Why You Must Cut Your Dog's Nails
If you are wondering whether you should cut your dog’s nails or not, you are not alone. Many dog owners ask this question, and the answer is yes!
I am not talking about the aesthetics here, although that counts as well since long nails on dogs aren't a pretty sight. Health issues, particularly pain and problems with posture, are the main reason why you must cut your dog’s nails. It's part of caring or your dog at home.
Consider your dog’s health.
Those of us who are not so disciplined in cutting our toenails regularly know that when they get too long they often hurt when pressed. Wearing tight shoes can seem like a brutal, medieval punishment at that time.
Well, dog nails are the same. Your canine can feel pain when he walks, especially when he strikes a hard surface like pavement or floor. Not to mention the pain that comes with breaking the nail, which can happen since long nails can get hung up on stuff and torn off. It's just one way to improve your dog's health.
Another, albeit not as common problem, comes from curling of the uncut nails which can grow into your dog’s paw pads or skin. This can lead to pain and infection. Even though this can happen with all nails, it is more common with dewclaws.
Dewclaw is a fifth nail that some dogs have on the inside of their leg, right below the wrist. And while some people argue about the purpose of dewclaws and propagate surgical removal of these “troublemakers,” it is also widely believed that they are used to provide a better grip and to help dogs with traction. Whatever the truth is, if your dog has dewclaws, you must cut them, preferably more often than the other nails since they are pointier than them.
In the end, your dog’s well-being is not the only thing you’re risking if you let his nails grow too long. Long nails can inflict some serious damage to your skin, but also to your floors, carpets and furniture.
How long is too long?
When your dog's nails touch the ground constantly and you can actually hear him walking around, it is time to trim his nails. When your dog is standing, his nails should never touch the ground. How much time will it take for your dog's nails to become too long depends on many factors (breed, diet, certain health conditions) and the best thing to do is to set up regular trimming sessions. Once every two weeks is fine, but if you can do it once a week that's even better.
Also, with regular trimming, your dog will eventually get used to it and you will probably have fewer problems with him being nervous or afraid and trying to get away from you when he sees you approach with clippers like some scary serial killer. His pain threshold will likely increase as well since longer nails can make him more sensitive.
Don't cut too short, either.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you cut your dog’s nails is not to cut them too short so you don’t cut the quick along the way. The quick is a tender flesh or tissue that grows below the nail. Dogs that have white or light-colored nails also have a visible quick and it’s not that hard to avoid cutting it accidentally. You will be able to see a pinkish shadow and you only have to avoid it while trimming.
However, some dogs have dark nails and that can present a problem since it is easier to make a mistake and cut the nail too short. That will be painful for your dog and you can expect a lot of blood because there are blood vessels and nerves in the quick. The best thing is to be as conservative as possible when you cut your dog’s nails and cut piece by piece until you see a black circle in the middle of the nail.
If you do cut the quick accidentally, you can stop the bleeding with styptic powder, like Kwik-Stop, or you can even use cornstarch. Just press it on his paw and hold it there for a few minutes. Even flour can help with the bleeding if you don’t have anything else at hand.
Once again, regularly clipping your dog’s nails will help you prevent these accidents because the quick will be shorter. The longer the nails, the longer the quick, I suppose someone said at some point in the history of mankind. If you haven't cut your dog's nails for months, it will take probably as much time to shorten the nails until they are at a healthy and pain-free length.
Trimming Tools You Can Use
The most popular and common way to cut the nails is with dog nail clippers. Whatever style or type of clippers you use, the most important thing is that they have sharp and clean blades.
Guillotine trimmers are also very popular and they are quite “controversial” since some find them easier to use thanks to their hole at the end, while others struggle with them. The trick is to put your dog’s nail through the hole and then squeeze the hands of the trimmer together. What happens is similar to the way that the real guillotine works since the internal blade chops off the end of the nail.
Other trimmer styles, like scissor and plier, are probably easier to use for most dog owners, but they require regular sharpening. That can be tough to achieve since, let’s face it, we haven’t sharpened anything in our lives. What to use and where to begin, right? Of course, you can always replace these nail trimmers once they become unusable.
For a finer and probably easier grooming, you should use grinders, like the Dremel rotary grinder. However, if you use grinders as an alternative to clippers, you will have to use them more often.
To get your dog’s nails trimmed, you need to make sure that you find the appropriate grinder for your dog, i.e., you need more clipping power if you have a large dog breed, while smaller breeds can be groomed with cordless models.
If you use grinders, you should be careful and watch out for your or your dog’s hair getting entwined in the spinning drum. Also, you should take it slow and get your dog used to the sound of the tool first. If you use clippers, here's a useful video to help you with the process.
I know that cutting your dog’s nails sounds like a stressful ordeal, and it probably sounds like that to your pooch as well. However, you must cut your dog’s nails to keep him in good health and doing it regularly will make the entire process less stressful for both of you. You'll need time, patience, and cuddles. So, get those nail trimmers out and get to work!