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How to Trim Nails & Why it’s so Important

How to Trim Nails & Why it’s so Important

Why is trimming nails so important?
Long nails are lead to aches and pains in the feet.  The digits (“fingers”) can become splayed or the bones might appear similar to knuckles sticking up on top of the paws.  Arthritis can set in due pressure of their body weight on their nail instead of the pads of their feet.  I have seen nails that are neglected to the point that their bones become deformed as a result.


How can you tell if the nails are too long and need to be trimmed?
If your dog’s nails are touching the ground while standing normally, it is time for a trim!What is the quick and where is it?


What is the quick & what you need to know:
The quick is a blood vessel inside the nail that nourishes the nails. You can see the dark circle in the cross section of the nail.  It could be painful if you cut the quick because there are nerves located there. With practice you will probably become more accustomed to judging where the quick is so you can avoid cutting too close to it.  If the nails are clear, you can use a flashlight to see where the quick is.  Black nails can be scary for beginners because you can’t see the quick through dark nails.


What you will need:
-Nail clippers (guillotine or plier types) – large or small
Quick Stop
-Treats
-Possibly a nail grinder
-Plenty of patience – be calm!


How to:
Start trimming just a tiny amount as if you are peeling an onion.  I stop at the point that I see the cross-section of the quick.

Again, the quick contains blood vessel and nerves.  So I’m going to stop on this nail and move to the next one.

For dogs who get really nervous at the sound of the nail being clipped, you might want to try using a nail grinder (like a Dremmel).  If you decide to grind the nails and the dog has long hair you MUST pull back the hair so that it doesn’t get caught in the grinder as it spins.



Oh S&%t!  It’s Bleeding!!!
This is not a life and death situation.  Simply use styptic powder or quick stop.  All you need to do is take a tiny pinch of qick stop and plug the tip of the nail where the blood is coming from.  I have heard that flour or cornstarch can be used instead of styptic powder.  Corn products are highly allergenic and not healthy for dogs so I suggest avoiding that.  


 About healthy nails:
Healthy nails should cut cleanly; they should not crumble. Such brittle nails indicate dryness which is very often due to 

poor nutrition and most commercial diets.  I have plenty of articles about feeding biologically appropriate food.


Dew Claws:
Do not forget the dew claws, which can cause especially.  They are easily forgotten and can grow into a circle and eventually become painful.  Dew claws are 1″ – 4″ above the feet on the inner side of the legs.  Dogs sometimes have no dew claws (often they’ve been removed).  Most dogs have 2.  It is not very common to find dogs with 4, but they’re out there.  


Desensitization:
Some dogs are very sensitive to having their paws touched and freak out when their paws are handled.  It’s a good idea to get your dog used to being handled by petting him all over and then stroking his legs and gradually move to his feet.  Also, try to get him used to being touched on the pads of his feet as well as the top of his feet.  The environment should be relaxed.  Focus on your dog – not on your phone or other distractions…  You can do this exercise any time you are petting your dog.  Not only does this help your dog get familiar with your touch on his feet, but it also teaches your dog that just because you are handling his feet, it doesn’t automatically mean that he will be having his nails trimmed.

You can give treats while stroking and handling your dog’s paws to make it a more positive experience.

For dogs who are more skittish, be sure to give treats during the nail trimming process.

How to keep nail length at bay:
Activities like walking, hiking, and playing fetch on rough surfaces will help keep the nail length short.  Walking or running on concrete works like a charm.  These activites and grind down the nails.  However, often times, our dogs don’t have a perfect gait.  Therefore, some nails will grind down better than others depending upon which nails make contact with the ground and receive the most pressure.  Hind nails tend to stay shorter than the front nails.  Dogs who do not go out often will likely have longer nails and require more frequent trimming than dogs who don’t get much exercise.



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