• Emily

The Art of Nail Trimming - Part 1

One thing that most dog owners have in common is that we have nail-trimming issues. Trimming nails is a necessary evil of dog ownership, but it is often written off because of an owner’s confidence or a dog’s bad behavior. Here is a beginner’s guide to what you need to know about trimming nails.

The Importance

Did you know that long nails could affect the health and happiness of your dog? Nail trimming isn’t just for appearance; long nails can wreck havoc on a dog’s posture and body:

“Long, unkempt nails not only look unattractive, but over time they can do serious damage to your dog (not to mention your floors). When nails are so long that they constantly touch the ground, they exert force back into the nail bed, creating pain for the dog (imagine wearing a too-tight shoe) and pressure on the toe joint. Long term, this can actually realign the joints of the foreleg and make the foot looked flattened and splayed.

Again, this isn’t just an aesthetic problem, it’s a functional one: Compromising your dog’s weight distribution and natural alignment can leave her more susceptible to injuries, and make walking and running difficult and painful. This is especially important in older dogs, whose posture can be dramatically improved by cutting back neglected nails.

In extreme cases, overgrown nails can curve and grow into the pad of the foot. But even if they are not that out of control, long nails can get torn or split, which is very painful and, depending on severity, may need to be treated by a veterinarian.” Reference: here

There’s no ignoring that long nails can cause pain, bad posture, movement issues and more, which all could lead to injuries. It’s not just about keeping nails short and pretty, it is part of being a good dog owner and looking out for their health.

The Anatomy

It’s important that you understand the anatomy of a nail before trimming. The innermost part of the nail is the quick, which contains the blood supply. Most people are aware that it is painful if you cut into the quick, but there are a few layers around the quick that can help you identify when you are getting close. The next layer is live tissue surrounding the quick. There is a chalky/dead layer around that, which is a good indication that you are getting close to the quick. Finally, there is the hard, outer shell of the nail, which is mostly what is trimmed off.

All About Angles

How you trim is extremely important and can dictate how safe and effective you are. The closer you get to the quick, the more it will recede, leading to a shorter nail. If your dog’s nails haven’t been trimmed regularly, it’s possible that the quick is very long and it won’t leave you with much of the outer layers to remove. If you trim correctly and often, you can cause the quick to recede.