She may not have to hit up the salon for a mani/pedi, but your dog’s claws need regular maintenance. In fact, lack of regular dog clipping can cause serious health problems for your pup. A really long dog claw may grow into the pad of her paw, just like an ingrown nail, causing an infection. Also, overgrown claws can become ripped or torn, causing a paw injury.
Regular dog clipping also keeps the dog “quick” (the portion of the nail containing blood vessels) from growing longer and longer, which ultimately prevents you from trimming the nails to the proper length. (FYI: The quick bleeds when you cut it—not exactly an invitation to clip away once things have gotten out of hand.)
Luckily, keeping those dog claws healthy and short isn’t a big mystery. Follow these easy steps to keep your pooch’s tips manicured and maintained.
Keeping Dog Nails Trimmed
Firstly, let’s begin with a clear understanding of why it’s necessary to trim your dog’s claws. A dog’s nails, if left untrimmed, can cause a variety of problems. Excessive nail length can be uncomfortable or even painful for a dog, causing issues with their gait and posture. Nails that are too long can also split or break, which can be very painful and might require veterinary attention. Moreover, long nails can cause damage to your furniture or floors, or can even accidentally scratch you or someone else in your home.
As suggested, a general rule is to trim your dog’s nails every six weeks. However, this is only a guideline, as the frequency of trimming can largely depend on the breed, age, lifestyle, and health of your dog. Some dogs may need their nails trimmed more frequently, while others may need it less so.
You may notice it’s time for a trim when your dog’s claws start snagging on carpet or other fabrics. It is also noticeable if your dog’s nails touch the ground when they are standing, which can be heard through a clicking sound when your dog is walking on a hard surface.
Exercising your dog outside regularly can help in maintaining your dog’s nail length. Walking your dog, especially on concrete or other hard surfaces, can naturally file the nails down. However, it’s important to note that this may not be enough for all dogs. This can be particularly true for older dogs or dogs with health issues that limit their activity levels, in which case their nails may need to be trimmed more frequently. Also, dogs that are more indoor or lead a more sedentary lifestyle may not experience the same natural wear on their claws.
The dewclaw, the claw on the inner part of the dog’s paw that doesn’t touch the ground, is a particular area of concern. Because it doesn’t get worn down naturally through walking, it can grow long and curve into the dog’s skin, causing discomfort or even infection. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the dewclaw and make sure to trim it regularly, regardless of your dog’s activity level.
While trimming your dog’s nails, you must be cautious not to cut into the quick, which is the sensitive part of the nail that has blood vessels and nerves. If you accidentally cut into the quick, it will cause your dog pain and the nail to bleed. If you’re unsure about how to do this, it’s always best to ask a professional groomer or your veterinarian for guidance.
Soft Claws Are Easier to Clip
It’s important to choose an optimal time to trim your dog’s nails for their comfort and your convenience. One such opportune moment is after your dog has had a bath or a swim. The reason for this is that the water softens the nails, making them easier to cut and less likely to split or crack during the trimming process.
When it comes to choosing the right tools for the task, it’s important to use clippers specifically designed for dogs, which can be easily acquired at pet supply stores or online. Dog clippers are constructed to accommodate the shape and thickness of a dog’s nail, which is significantly different from human nails. Using clippers intended for humans could lead to irregular cuts, potentially causing pain or injury to your dog.
A key aspect of nail trimming to pay close attention to is avoiding cutting into the “quick” of the nail. The quick is a sensitive area within the nail that contains both nerves and blood vessels. If you accidentally cut into this area, it can cause pain for your dog and result in bleeding. It’s essential to trim with caution to prevent such an eventuality.
In the case of dogs with clear or light-colored nails, it’s typically easier to locate the quick, as it appears as a pinkish area within the nail. However, if your dog has dark or black nails, identifying the quick can be more challenging. In this scenario, it’s recommended to trim just a small portion off the end of the nail to avoid accidentally cutting into the quick. Given this, you may need to trim your dog’s nails more frequently than the typical six-week interval to maintain an optimal length.
Additionally, you can shine a flashlight under the nail to help reveal the quick in dark-colored nails. Regularly trimming your dog’s nails also gradually recedes the quick, allowing you to cut the nail shorter over time. However, if you’re uncomfortable or unsure about identifying the quick or handling the process overall, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional groomer or your veterinarian.
In summary, clipping your dog’s nails post-bath or swim, using dog-specific clippers, and being cautious of the quick are essential aspects of maintaining your pet’s nail health. Regular and careful trimming is a key part of your dog’s overall well-being.
Don’t Let Him Make Snap Decisions
Dealing with a dog who displays aggression or resistance during nail clipping can be a challenging situation. While draping a bath towel over your dog’s head is a technique that some owners find helpful, it’s important to approach it with caution and consider other factors as well.
The towel method is based on the concept of providing a sense of security and reducing visual stimuli for the dog, which can help calm them down during the nail clipping process. By covering their head, you are limiting their field of vision and potentially reducing their anxiety. However, it’s crucial to note that this technique may not work for every dog, and it should only be used if you feel comfortable and confident in applying it.
If you decide to try the towel method, here are a few steps to follow:
- Prepare the towel: Choose a bath towel that is large enough to cover your dog’s head comfortably. Make sure it’s clean and free of any strong odors or substances that could cause discomfort or irritate your dog’s senses.
- Introduce the towel: Approach your dog calmly and gently. Hold the towel open and allow your dog to sniff and investigate it. This will help them associate the towel with positive experiences and minimize any potential fear or resistance.
- Cover the head: Once your dog is comfortable with the presence of the towel, gently drape it over their head, leaving their nose uncovered so they can breathe comfortably. Be cautious not to wrap it too tightly or cause any distress.
- Proceed with caution: While the towel may help in reducing your dog’s reactivity, it’s important to still be cautious when handling their paws and nails. Move slowly and deliberately, keeping a firm grip on their paw while being mindful of their body language and any signs of discomfort or agitation.
- Seek professional help if necessary: If your dog continues to display aggression or discomfort during nail clipping, it’s recommended to seek assistance from a professional dog trainer, behaviorist, or a veterinarian. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific dog’s needs and help address any underlying issues that may be contributing to the behavior.
Remember, the safety and well-being of both you and your dog are paramount. Always prioritize positive reinforcement, patience, and creating a stress-free environment when handling any grooming procedures.
Stop Quick From Bleeding
Accidents can occur during the nail trimming process, and cutting the quick is one such mishap that can cause bleeding in your dog’s nail. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to act swiftly and effectively to address the bleeding and ensure your dog’s comfort. One highly recommended product to have in your pet supply kit for such emergencies is a styptic product like Kwik Stop, which is easily obtainable at pet supply stores.
Styptic powders or gels, such as Kwik Stop, are specifically formulated to aid in clotting and stop bleeding quickly. These products contain ingredients that help constrict blood vessels and promote the formation of a blood clot at the site of the cut. They are designed to be applied topically to the bleeding area, helping to stem the flow of blood and prevent further discomfort.
In the event that you accidentally cut the quick while trimming your dog’s claws and bleeding occurs, it’s crucial to remain calm and composed. Your dog may pick up on your emotions, so maintaining a soothing and reassuring demeanor will help alleviate their anxiety during this potentially distressing situation.
Once you have gathered your composure, carefully apply the styptic powder or gel to the bleeding area of the nail. Take care to cover the cut and ensure that the product comes into contact with the bleeding quick. The styptic powder or gel will work to constrict blood vessels and facilitate the formation of a clot, thereby stopping the bleeding.
While applying the styptic product, it’s important to exert gentle pressure to encourage clotting. Be cautious not to apply excessive pressure, as it can cause discomfort to your dog. Maintain the pressure for a few seconds, allowing the styptic product to take effect. Keep a close eye on the nail to ensure that the bleeding has ceased.
After the bleeding has subsided, it’s crucial to prevent further irritation to the injured nail. Limit your dog’s physical activity for a short period and discourage scratching or engaging in activities that may aggravate the injury. Providing a calm and comfortable environment, along with gentle reassurance, can aid in your dog’s recovery and overall well-being.
Remember, if the bleeding persists or if you have any concerns, it’s always advisable to seek veterinary assistance. A veterinarian can provide further guidance, assess the situation, and offer appropriate care if necessary. By having a styptic product like Kwik Stop readily available, you can be better prepared to address any accidental nail quick cuts and provide prompt first-aid treatment for your beloved canine companion.
Dealing With a Dewclaw
Sometimes dogs are born with an extra claw, called a dewclaw, along the side of the foot. If left alone, a dewclaw can get caught on things and tear out, bleeding profusely and causing a dog foot injury. Some breeders remove dewclaws when their puppies are only a few days old because the procedure is simple and can be done without anesthesia. (You can even have it done at the same time as spaying or neutering.) If your older dog still has a dewclaw, have it removed surgically by the vet.