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Dog nails and claws: why cut them and how?

Dog nail and claw care

Not enough physical activity or apartment life doesn’t always allow our dogs to naturally wear down their claws. Too long, broken, or cracked, they cause our dogs to have trouble moving, sprains, injuries, sharp pain, and potential infections. Regular maintenance of your dog’s claws is an easy act of kindness to implement.

Here’s why and how to take care of it.

Why trim your dog’s claws?

Reasons why to trim dog nailsWhen your dog moves, all his weight rest on his pads and claws. Poorly kept claws hinder movement, balance, and poses. They are sources of discomfort and intense pain when too long, since they curve back and penetrate your pet’s skin. Their maintenance is essential to keep your buddies healthy.

Note that the dewclaws located inside the legs don’t wear out as they don’t touch the ground. Your dog’s claws or nails should be checked every two months for potential trimming.

What to cut them with?

Tools to trim dog nailsGetting the right equipment is essential for everyone’s safety.

  • For small and medium dogs, scissors or nail clippers with a safety guard.
  • For large dogs, scissors with a guillotine clipper.
  • As a substitute or for finishing touches, an electric file.

All these items are available for purchase or on order at good pet stores.

How to cut them?

Some precautions are necessary before adopting this care routine with your pup.

Training your dog

  • A few days prior, press down on the widest part of the paw pad. This helps show the claw length to cut and gets your pup accustomed to the handling.
  • Be reassuring.
  • Give rewards for good behavior. Pup needs to associate your actions with fun times.

Practicing the trim

  • Pick a day when you’re relaxed.
  • Have your dog sit next to you.
  • Grab a paw and cut the hairs between paw pads if they’re too bushy.
  • Notice a pink line in the claw? That’s living tissue, avoid it to keep Fido safe.
  • Cut the claw quickly and confidently right before this line.
  • If your dog has black claws, stand it up and trim the claw at ground level. This keeps from cutting too short.
  • Do the same for all paws. Don’t forget the dewclaw, especially for species that are often out and going like retrievers.

In case of injury

Cut a bit too short and there’s bleeding? Apply silver nitrate with a pad, while calming your dog. Protect its paw for a few hours with a sock secured by a rubber band. You can find silver nitrate at a pharmacy.

When to consult a vet?

If your dog breaks a claw, get to a vet, because infection risks lurk, especially if part of claw is still in your dog’s paw. They’ll prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics.

Your dog will need to rest and wear a paw protection.

Smart tip

Got a new puppy? Start claw care early. If you get him used to it while young, he’ll tolerate the handling better. Worried about cutting your dog’s claws, especially if they’re black? Hire a groomer or ask your vet.

Don’t take any chances!

Images: Pixabay: Aleksandr Tarlõkov, Nature Blossom, Ulises Beviglia

Written by Lydie Dronet | With over 20 years in the field of animal care, Lydie shares her paws-on expertise and experience. Other topics she loves delving into are nutrition and the medicinal uses of plants.
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