Trimming or filing your dog’s nails regularly should be a part of dog grooming. However, it can be stressful for many dogs. So, what’s the safest way to trim your dog’s nails? Keep reading to learn how to cut dog nails and the risks of neglecting to perform regular nail trimming.
How to Trim Dog Nails Safely
The simplest and safest way to trim your dog’s nails is to slowly introduce your dog to the sound and sight of the nail clippers before you attempt to cut your dog’s nails. Try bringing the nail clippers out, clicking them, and allowing your dog to smell them on various occasions without cutting their nails. Also, provide tasty dog treats when you take out the clippers. Here’s a guide to cutting dog nails safely:
- Find a quiet area free from distractions so your pet can be comfortable.
- Hold your small dog in your lap or on a steady surface. If you have a large dog, having another person hold your furry friend while you trim their nails would be helpful.
- Gently but firmly hold one of your pet’s paws between your forefinger and thumb.
- Extend the nail forward by pushing down slightly on the paw pad. Also, ensure no hair is blocking your view of the whole nail.
- Clip straight across the nail’s tip once your dog holds still. Avoid clipping behind the nail’s natural curve.
- Always provide lots of high-value treats before, during, and after the nail trimming process to associate it with big rewards.
Moreover, dogs with black nails present more of a challenge because it can be hard to see where the quick (the center of the nail that holds the blood vessels and nerves) begins. Once you start trimming, you might see a chalk-like white ring surrounding the quick. You do not want to trim beyond that point to avoid causing discomfort and bleeding. If you are uncomfortable cutting your dog’s black nails, you can set up a nail trim appointment at our office. Also, you can ask one of our veterinary staff to demonstrate how to trim black nails properly to learn the safest way to trim your dog’s nails.
Risks of Not Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
Cutting your dog’s nails is more than a cosmetic chore. Unhealthy nails can cause pain and possibly trigger irreversible damage to your pet.
Long nails can convert a sound paw into a splayed foot and minimize traction. That can cause deformed feet and injure the tendons over time. As the dog’s long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts abnormal force on the foot and its leg structure.
Dogs break their nails by snagging them on grass roots, carpets, upholstery fibers, etc. Or they might jump off a chair or couch and land on a toe with a long nail that the nail bends back and breaks. Sometimes, the nails of aging pets are so dry that they are prone to break very easily. Broken nails are painful and can lead to secondary infections, so its best to avoid this from happening by keeping your dog’s nails trimmed.
Growth into Pads and Infections
As soon as your pet’s nails touch the ground and grow past your dog’s paw pad, it’s time to take action! In the absence of regular nail cutting, some nails might grow so long that they curl back and begin digging into the foot pad. Also, ingrown nails can lead to paw discomfort and lameness. Unfortunately, the nail can dig into the paw pad to break the skin and cause a secondary infection of the paw.
Nail trims may seem minor, but they are important to ensuring your pet’s overall health and should be considered part of their regular preventative care. Regular nail trims not only protect your floors, but also keep your pet’s feet happy and prevent further issues from developing.
Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, We’ll Treat Your Pets Like Family!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!