Why Is It Important To Properly Care For Your Dog's Nails?
Looking after your dog's nails and keeping them clipped to the correct length is important for several reasons. Nails that are not clipped regularly can cause serious health issues. One issue is obvious - nails that that are too long can curl around into the paw pad and cause a lot of pain and injury to the pad itself. Another much more serious issue is that nails that are too long can compromise your dog's weight distribution, in turn causing your dog's whole posture to be affected and leading to serious joint injuries.
How Do I Know If My Dog's Nails are too Long?
Look for the following signs to see if you need to get your dog's nails clipped:
The tips of the nails are touching the ground when your dog is standing.
The nails have begun to curl around towards the paw pads.
You can see a lot of space between the quick and the end of the nail (visible on lighter coloured nails).
Hearing your dog's nails 'tapping' on the ground as they walk.
You know it's been a while since you've trimmed your dog's nails, or since they've been to the groomer.
How often should my dog's nails be clipped?
This really depends on varying factors. For example, if you have an active, large dog like a young Labrador, who you walk regularly on varying terrains, there's a good chance your dog's nails are wearing down enough naturally that you don't need to worry too often. On the other hand, if you have a sedentary older dog, a small breed without much weight to them, or if you only walk tend to walk your dog for short periods or on softer terrains such as grass - you probably need to think about nail trims more often.
A good rule of thumb is to have a quick look at your dog's nails every couple of weeks and notice the rate at which they seem to be growing. If your dog regularly visits a groomer they should do the nails for you each time.
How do I clip my dog's nails?
Clipping your dog's nails can be done at home with some care.
Nail clippers can be purchased at pet supply stores (we like pet.co.nz and animates.co.nz), or sometimes even in the pet aisle of your local supermarket.
If your dog has pale coloured nails, you should be able to easily see the quick. This is the thin, pink line that runs down the nail. ONLY cut the part in front of the quick. Often on darker nails you can't see the quick, so you may want to visit your vet or groomer and let them do it instead. (FYI: Our nail clipping service is only $10. So it certainly isn't going to break the bank if you're too nervous to do it yourself and there is no shame in having somebody else do it!)
Dogs that aren't used to regular nail clipping or grooming of any kind may hate having their feet touched! Get into the habit of regularly touching your dog's paws from as early an age as possible. Have a handful of tasty treats to give them while you do it to help them associate touching paws with GOOD, POSITIVE, YUMMY things! Help your dog to see that it's not a big deal, it's just a normal part of life. (This actually goes for any aspect fo grooming, and why we LOVE to see puppies in our salon! Set them up for success, it doesn't have to be a big ordeal.)
DON'T FORGET... once a month we hold a FREE nail clipping event at our salon in exchange for donations to Cat Rescue Wanaka! We run this on a 'give-what-you-can-afford' basis and there is no minimum donation required. For details about the next one check our facebook page or flick us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org