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Barking Dog Fitness Blog

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails


Have you looked at your dog’s nails recently?

How long are they?Dog nails too long and just right

Recently, we’ve noticed a larger number of dogs whose nails are much too long, to the point where it’s actually interfering with their gait. Long nails not only look bad, but they can also cause a myriad of problems. Some of these include:

  • Proprioception issues. Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense where it is in space. In dogs, the receptors in his toes help his brain understand where his body is in relation to the ground. This becomes distorted when nails are too long.
  • Posture problems. Long nails can realign the joints on the leg, making the foot look flat. This in turn redistributes weight and natural alignment affecting normal gait. This makes walking and running difficult at best and painful at worst.
  • Pain. When nails are too long, they touch the ground and actually exert a force back in to the nail bed causing your dog pain.
  • Safety issues. Long nails can’t grip flooring making them more prone to slipping. This in turn reduces their confidence especially on slick floors.
  • Nails growing in to the pad. We have seen this with dogs’ dewclaws. They are so long they actually curve in to the pad at the dewclaw. This can cause infections in the pad. Nails that grow in to the pads have to be cut out, a painful procedure.

Why are we seeing so many dogs with very long nails?

The answers are multifold.

These days dogs aren’t out running on various hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt, digging, climbing, and all the other activities most dogs used to do. These activities naturally wear them down. Instead many dogs spend their days indoors or hanging out on grassy surfaces. The consequences of this mostly sedentary lifestyle include weight problems, behavior problems, and yes, long nails.

Some dogs who aren’t properly exposed to having their feet touched at a young age have a real aversion to this and won’t allow anyone to trim their nails.

Others have been hurt while having their nails trimmed and will no longer allow anyone to trim their nails.

And there are some owners who are oblivious to the fact that their dog’s nails are too long. We see this often.

When the nail grows too long, so does the quick.

What is the quick?

It is the soft cuticle in the center of the nail. It is surrounded by the visible hard outer shell.

As nails continue to grow longer, the quick grows along with it, making it impossible (without causing pain) to cut the nails back to where they should be.

Therefore, you have to trim your dog’s nails often, taking off a little bit at a time. Trim them weekly as close to the quick as possible and in time, the quick will recede.

If you have a dog with black nails, it’s best to use a dremel so you don’t accidently cut the quick. Because the quick contains blood vessels and nerve endings if you cut through this area, it will bleed and cause pain.

If you’re unsure or uncomfortable trimming your dog’s nails, have the vet or a groomer do it. Your goal should be to cut the nails short enough so you can’t hear them on a tile or wood floor.

If you keep at it, your dog will start to feel better and it will become easier for your dog to feel like himself again!