When a dog’s nails are trimmed regularly, they stay short and neat and help the dog grip the ground. But when the nails are neglected, they keep growing and eventually make the feet spread and cause serious damage to the legs and feet. Walking and running become uncomfortable, even painful, and eventually, the dog may become lame.
Long nails are not always the result of deliberate neglect. It’s surprising how many owners believe that normal exercise will wear the toenails down to comfortable length. Wild ani mals may wear down their nails in the course of daily activi ties, but things are a little different with domesticated dogs. Yes, those that walk or exercise a great deal on concrete or hard ground may wear down their nails, but they are in the minority. The average pet spends most of his time indoors, and when he does go outside, usually it’s to a grassy lawn or other surface too soft to shorten the nails.
It’s up to you, therefore, to establish a regular schedule for trimming your dog’s nails. The job can be done by a groomer or veterinarian, or you can learn to trim your dog’s nails yourself. You will need dog nail clippers sized to the breed (ordinary scissors will not do), and a file to smooth the rough edges after trimming. Insert the tip of a nail into the trimmer opening and cut it back a little at a time. Don’t cut into the quickthe fleshy area inside the nail that contains the nerves and blood supplywhich is very sensitive and may cause bleeding and fright. Nip off little sections at a time, especially when you cannot see the line of the quick in dark colored nails. If you do snip the quick, press a little nail clotting powder on the spot for a few seconds. Nail clotting powder is available at most pet stores.
Pay special attention to the upper inside nails or dew claws. Since these do not touch the ground they continue to grow, sometimes curling around to pierce the flesh and cause infection. This is a problem that requires immediate veteri nary attention. The dewelaws may be removed by your veterinarian.
Thorns in or between the pads, usually indicated by limping, should be taken out with tweezers. Cuts and abra sions will need thorough washing in soap and water. Then apply an antiseptic. Until healed, protect the foot with a ban dage or baby’s stocking to prevent infection. Also watch out for possible fungus infection of the toes which dogs occasion ally pick up from the ground. This is a case for the veterinar ian. not the amateur.