As a dog owner, I am willing to do the necessary things to not only maintain but also improve my dog’s health. I have always wondered why it is essential to trim a dog’s claws but lacked the knowledge about the best method to use or how often should claws be trimmed. Not many dogs get excited about getting their claws cut, which makes it difficult for the dog owner to make it a fun and interesting activity. So what do you need to know?
Trimming your dog’s claws is essential for their health. Long claws can exert extreme pressure higher up into the foot bed which can cause excruciating pain. If claws are left unattended, your dog’s feet will not only be tender and extremely sore but could lead to posture issues as your dog attempts to walk differently to minimize pain.
Dog’s claws should be kept short so their claws do not hit the ground when walking. Trimming the claws should be performed every few weeks for optimal health. If claws are left untrimmed for longer periods of time, the quick (which is the nerve and vein that runs through the nail) will extend longer through the claw. The extension of the quick, along with the nail, means that claws need smaller trims regularly (at least every week) until the claw no longer hit the floor when walking, and the quick has receded higher into the claw towards the foot.
Caution should be used when trimming the dog’s nails so that the quick is not cut. This can be very painful for the dog while also causing bleeding. If the quick is cut, use cornstarch to stop the bleeding, or in a pinch, use flour. It is better to have a small container of cornstarch on hand so you can pack the claw quickly to stop bleeding.
Regardless of cutting tools, the blades should always be kept sharp for effective trimming sessions. Scissor-type or plier-style trimmers are the best for trimming claws due to lower risk of damaging the claw. Guillotine trimmers can also be used but it can be easier to wick the quick due to threading the claw into the contraption, which impairs sight while trimming. There is also a chance that the guillotine can crush the tip of the claw if the blade is dull, which can be extremely painful and may lead to infection. Dremels can be used to sand away the claw but the same caution should be used to prevent oversanding and hitting the quick. Using a dremel also takes patience as your dog gets acclimated to the sound and feel of the grinder next to their claws, and care should be used to prevent fur getting wrapped in the grinder.
It can be difficult to see the quick if your dog has dark colored claws (like my dogs have). For darker-colored claws, it can be useful to have someone shine a light behind you, making it easier to view the quick while trimming. If your dog has light-colored nails, it is easier to see the red-colored quick thus minimizing the risk of injury.
Consistency is key to maintaining your dog’s foot health. Dedicate certain days of the month to trim your dog’s claws to ensure weekly or bimonthly trims (such as the first and sixteenth day of every month). Trimming claws can take some practice but it gets easier with each session. Cutting claws should take less time as you continue to practice. As you become more confident, your dog should get more comfortable with trimming sessions. Positive reinforcement and treats can help alleviate stress during trims. If you do wick the quick, remember to pack with cornstarch (or flour) to stop the bleeding. Keep nail cutters sharp or replace cutters often to ensure a smooth trim for your dog. Trimming your dog’s claws will probably never get you votes for dog parent of the year but should give you reassurance that your dog is healthier and stronger because he is able to walk and run properly.