Regular nail trimming is important to your dogs health and well being. If you do not keep their nails properly trimmed they can crack and split, which can then lead to infections. So regular trimming will save you money and from a trip to the vets and your dog a lot of pain and aggravation.
Why you should trim your dog’s nails
Just as it is important to keep your dog’s coat groomed, another important grooming process is trimming their nails.
If you do not trim the nails and they grow too long it can cause different issues, some more serious than others.
The reasons you should trim your dog’s nails
If your dog walks a lot on pavements, or spends time running around in areas on concrete then you may not need to trim as often, as hard surfaces can help wear the nails down.
If your dog spends more time on grass or maybe does not have or need as much exercise, then you will find their nails grow a lot quicker, and if they aren’t trimmed regularly they will become too long.
When the nails get too long there is a risk they could catch on something, for example carpets, bedding etc, and end up getting torn off, this can cause them to bleed and also a lot of pain and discomfort to your dog, and may result in a trip to the vets, it is important if this happens to keep the area clean to prevent infections.
Also, when a dog is walking around with longer nails, it can put pressure on the bed of the nail which will make it uncomfortable for them when walking. If they are in pain or discomfort when they walk they will change the way they walk so that it distributes their weight differently, which can then affect the alignment of the joints in their paws, toes and their forelegs, to give them an almost flat-footed look when they walk.
Also, if a dog’s nails are really neglected they will eventually curl round and in the worst cases they can end up becoming embedded into their pads, which will be very painful for them every time they take a step.
I had a rescue Shar Pei that had just been used for continuous breeding and had never, had any care or been taken to vets and her nails were so bad they had grown into her pads, and her feet became really deformed almost like webbed feet, her nails had even started growing in a different direction to what they should. Once they were trimmed we kept on top of them and she could get around without any pain but it did affect the way she walked and the length of her walks.
The last reason is that at the end of the day dogs are never keen on having their nails trimmed unless they have been done from a very early age and they are used to it. So letting them get too long till they are painful to walk on will also make them painful to be trimmed which will make the process even worse.
What you will need
Purchase a good quality set of nail clippers, they come in different sizes so make sure you get the one that is suitable for your breed or size of dog, some veterinaries sell them so ask there if unsure or at your local pet store.
It may also be worth getting a pot of styptic powder just in case you do cut the nail too short, as it stops the bleeding reducing the trauma.
How to trim your dog’s nails
The best position to trim your dog’s nails in is if you can get them to lie down. This is sometimes not possible and you may need someone else’s help. One of my dogs won’t lie down so I get someone to distract him with a treat and I lift his leg moving it back so that his pads are facing upwards and then I trim them and he is fine, our vets also showed me that while the dog is being distracted and their foot is on the floor you can steady the leg and trim nails while they are in a normal standing position this works really well and they do not seem to mind it.
You need to make sure when you cut their nails that you do not cut into the quick if you have a dog with pale nails this is easy to see it is the past or the nail at the top which looks pink. Make sure when you trim you do not cut into that as it will cause a bleed, this can sometimes happen though so do not panic, this is where the styptic powder comes in as applying a pinch to the area that is bleeding will stem the bleeding.
If you have a dog that has black claws then just take a little off at a time as you will not be able to see the quick.
When you are ready to trim the nail, apply pressure to the handle of the clippers and squeeze, this will make a smooth and quick cut. Continue with each nail until they are all done. Some people also file the ends over as well to smooth the edges. I don’t do this as they soon wear them down on their walks.
How often do you trim your dog’s nails
Most groomers and veterinarians would suggest once a month, again this will depend on your dog and the exercise etc that they get. If you do not feel comfortable trimming your own dog’s nails then take them to a groomer or a vet, there will be a small fee for this and generally a groomer will be slightly cheaper.
It is also worth investing in a pair of grooming scissors to keep the fur between your dog’s toes trimmed too, this will prevent dirt, stones etc from getting trapped between the toes, which can cause discomfort and potential infections.
Commitment to your dog
When you get a dog you are committing to look after them in every sense, feeding, walking, playtime, training, and care health wise which includes grooming. For their whole life, which can be around 15 years. Trimming dogs nails whether done by yourself or the vets is one of the things you need to do to make sure your dog stays happy, healthy and pain free. These things are nothing in comparison to what you will get back from your dog in unconditional love, loyalty and companionship.