06th Mar 2021
Some dogs will naturally wear down their nails during walks and rarely need their nails clipped. Other dogs though, no matter how much they are walked, do not naturally wear down their nails – this could be due to the type of ground they are walking on, or it could be the natural placement of their paws. A senior dog may not wear their nails down as they will often favour grass or softer ground and will prefer not to walk on hard surfaces. This is when we, as their owners need to ensure good nail maintenance is put in place; whether that be a trim at home, with the vet or a dog groomer. As a rule though, you should be checking the length of your dog’s nails once a month.
Without trimming our dog’s nails they can quickly become long enough to make walking uncomfortable. Not many people realise the damage long nails can do to the structure of a dogs paw. Long nails can turn a healthy paw into a splayed foot, it reduces traction and it will also can cause deformed feet and injure the tendons over an extended period of time. If a dog's nails are too long, you will hear them click-clacking when the dog walks on hard surfaces. As the long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts force on the foot and leg structure.
Long nails snag easily on carpet, upholstery, and even your clothes. Snags can lead to a tear, which can cause the dog a lot of unnecessary pain and often bleed… a lot.
One of the main reasons dogs don’t get regular nail trims is because owners are afraid to do the job. They fear cutting into the “quick”. The quick is the sensitive, pink area at the base of each nail (looks a vein) and is full of nerves and blood vessels and will bleed profusely if cut – it is easy to see on dogs with clear nails, but not quite so easy on dogs with black nails. But if you know how to go about it, you can care for your dog’s nails yourself. A lot of owners also do not spend time conditioning their dogs to be comfortable with having their nails trimmed. Conditioning a dog to be comfortable having their nails trimmed can take time, but it makes for a much easier and relaxed experience for both dog and owner.
So what is the correct length? If a dog's nails are too long, you will hear them clack when the dog walks on hard surfaces. Deciding if your dog’s nails are too long is quite simple. The claws should not protrude over the pad and should not touch the ground when standing.
There are many different types of clippers available – use what you feel most comfortable with and most importantly, what the dogs comfortable with – the grinders make noise, so if your dog is sensitive to sound, you may not want to use them, or you may want to spend time conditioning your dog to the sound prior to using it. Whichever you choose to use, make sure you leave the nail smooth with no rough edges – you may needs to file off any rough edges.
Here is a guide on how to clip your dog’s nails safely and correctly.