Have you ever had to chase your dog down in order to trim their nails? It never takes long for them to figure out what you’re up to, but nail care is an extremely important part of puppy care. Because dogs are so sensitive about their paws and nails, this task is seldom an easy one.
Get them used to the idea
Before you wrestle your dog to the ground and force them to have their nails cut, try a different approach. When they’re young is the best time to start, but it will work on older dogs too. First, you can start preparing them for grooming by frequently handling their paws. Many dogs won’t be comfortable with you “man” handling their digits, so slowly introduce them to the idea with massaging and rubbing of their paws and the areas between their toes. After they let you do that, move on to the nail, but don’t do any cutting, just put pressure on the area by lightly pinching the nail. Then reward them with a treat for allowing you to handle their nails. After a couple of weeks of handling, you’re pup will be a little less “wild” when it comes to clipping time.
Cutting the nail
The best way to cut their nails is to take small portions at a time over time. Most vets recommend a trim every couple of weeks. This will prevent the nail from growing too long, and help give you a fair idea of where you’re pup’s nail length should be.
Remember that as you clip, check the nail for the dark spot that will let you know you’re going too far. The dark area is known as the quick, and is the most vulnerable part of the nail. You’ll need to stop when you’ve reached the pale inner layer or you risk hurting your dog.
The method of constantly trimming their nails in small portions instead of waiting until their nails are long will help prevent them from the risk of catching on cloth and carpet. It will also help them get used to the idea of you handling their paws and nails. And with consistent maintenance, it will help prevent you from cutting into the nails most vulnerable part- the quick.
The “quick” within the nail is almost like the root of a tooth. If you damage it, their nail can easily become infected and cause a lot of pain for your pup.
This is perhaps what makes puppy nail trimming so tricky. If you start cutting without any education or preparation, you can hurt your dog in several ways. Damaging the quick will often lead to a bacterial infection of the nail and paw. This would require immediate attention, such as disinfecting the area with silver nitrate and preventative steps. A trip to the vet may be necessary, especially in young or older dogs with weaker immune systems that are more vulnerable to infections.
Not cutting the nail
Of course, the opposite is exactly true as well. A dog’s nail left unchecked is just as easily a target for infection as an over-cut nail. Have you ever had your dog run through the house, skid across the tile floor, and when they try that on carpet, they end up with a nail caught in the rug. Now most dogs won’t understand that they need to stop pulling and tearing or they’ll just make it worse, so they usually end up tearing or breaking their nails if they get caught. This will also lead to infection since the nail is cracked or broken, revealing the quick as well.
Long or over grown nails, even though they haven’t cracked or broken, can also lead to infection. When nails get to long, they can begin to curl around, usually placing pressure back into the nail follicle and cause it to become ingrown. Their claws can also begin to curl over and actually dig in and cut into their skin. Without proper attention, overgrown and ingrown nails can cause infections as well.
Taking care of your pup means that you have to do what’s right for them, even if they don’t want to do it. Just like making sure you’re kids go to school and eat their veggies, dog’s don’t always want to let you handle their paws, but it’s something you have to do to ensure that they have a healthy, happy life.