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Are Your Dog’s Nails Too Long? Find Out If They Are and What to Do About It
Do you hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor when you walk? If not, your dog’s nails are the right length for his health and longevity. Continue whatever activity keeps them tired. If the answer is yes and you can hear them clicking on the bare floor, your dog’s nails are too long. Is this a big deal? Yes, at least it will cause pain to your dog and a possible vet bill. At worst, it can cause your dog to develop arthritis and die prematurely.
A common misconception is that clipping the tips of a dog’s nails once or twice a year is enough. If you hear a click, it’s not working. Just like humans, dogs’ nails never stop growing. But unlike humans, their wing (the part that comes with the blood) keeps growing out. If the dog doesn’t cut or trim the nails naturally regularly, the nails will get longer and eventually cause the dog to step on its feet incorrectly and/or the nails may grow right into the dog’s pad. Claws growing into the padding can cause a painful infection that, if left untreated, can take the dog’s life. Long, straight nails cause an incorrect step, pushing the hips and back out of line and causing premature aging and arthritis. How many old dogs have you seen with very long nails that can’t walk or get up normally? These dogs suffer terribly and if they are unable to walk they will soon die.
You have three options for trimming your dog’s nails. You can start training your dog on asphalt or hard surfaces to naturally grind the nails. You can trim your own dog’s nails at home. 20 percent of dog owners are able to keep their dog’s nails trimmed at home. You are probably one of the 80% of owners who take their dogs to a professional groomer or vet to have their nails trimmed. If you have a dog with curly nails (such as a cocker spaniel or shih tzu), exercise is not enough if your dog has dewclaws. Dew nails have the highest probability of actually growing into the dog’s pad or skin. If your dog has straight growing nails (shepherds, boxers, labs), just training can help. There are several different clippers (and dremels) that you can choose from to trim your dog’s nails at home. If you hit quickly and the nail bleeds, you can stop the bleeding by using styptic powder (available from your groomer) or starch or flour packed on the nail. Whichever method you use, it’s helpful to know that a dog’s nails will naturally recede 1/8 to ¼ inch from the edge of the nail within a few days of trimming. This is why dogs who run every day never shed their nails and never need to trim them back.
How to get the nails to the right length humanely? Trim the nails back (i.e. ¼ inch in front of the quick coat) every 5-10 days until the nail length is back to where it should be – don’t click the floor when the dog walks. It is normal for the groomer to cut the nails too short if the goal is to get more than “just the tips”. It’s better for your dog’s long-term health to have a trimmer that consistently cuts too short compared to the alternative.
Nail clicking is an easy sign for all dog owners to assess whether their dog has the optimal nail length for their long-term health and happiness. It is the responsibility of the owner to take measures for the well-being of his four-legged friend. Once your dog’s nails have shortened to the optimal length, maintain your dog’s nail length. The average maintenance schedule for the average dog owner is a monthly trim. Every dog has a different growth and exercise pattern. Remember, be a Conscientious Dog Owner, enjoy your dog’s long life and optimal health – listen for the click.
Copyright 2010 DuAnn Lustig-Chambers
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