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Nail trimming and general foot care are vital for healthy feet and happiness of your dog.
Nail trimming is important as untrimmed nails can break off, grow into the pads and cause foot deformities, all of which are very painful situations for your dog.
Many people are afraid to trim their pet’s nails, but you can do it! Usually people are concerned about cutting the quick, a blood vessel that runs through the center of the nail. However, by following some simple steps this can be avoided most of the time.
To trim your dog’s nails, you’ll need a sharp dog nail trimmers and styptic powder. I prefer a scissor-style clippers like the Millers Forge Designer Series Nail Scissor. These are easy to use and stay sharp for a long time. The styptic powder that I prefer is one with a pain reliever in it like Kwik Stop, which has benzocaine in it.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’ll want to approach your dog calmly. Animals can sense if you are nervous and will become anxious as well. Anxiety makes trimming nails very difficult. It often helps to have someone help you by holding and talking to your dog.
Next, with your dog standing, gently tip your dog’s foot back from the ankle so you are able to see the bottom of the foot and nails. Never force your dog’s foot or leg to bend in an unnatural way.
Time for trimming
Ultimately, the nails should be trimmed where they start to curve down toward the floor; however, this isn’t always possible if the nails haven’t been cut regularly. As nails grow the quick grows as well, so if nails have gotten longer than they should, the quick may have grown past the curve in the nail.
So, instead of cutting a large section of nail off, I recommend cutting small layers of the nail and watching for the quick to appear. It will look like a darker spot in the center of the nail. Once you see it, stop cutting. Cutting a little off the nails every 1 to 2 weeks will encourage the quick to pull back and you’ll eventually be able to get your dog’s nails to a proper length.
If you happen to hit the quick and cause some bleeding, don’t panic. Take some styptic powder and put it on the end of the nail. Bleeding usually stops immediately but sometimes a second coating of the powder is needed.
Other foot care
Another important part of foot care is keeping the fur between the pads of the feet trimmed. If not maintained this hair can mat making walking very uncomfortable and irritating feet as well. It also will collect dirt and debris that may cause your pet stomach upset if they lick it. A clippers is the safest way to trim this hair. If you’re not comfortable trimming it yourself, your groomer will be happy to help.
It’s also important to watch the health of the pads on the feet. Pads are typically black or pale pink. If they appear red and/or inflamed, have your vet check them. Allergies and chemicals like fertilizer or ice melt can cause irritation. Keep your dog’s feet clean and use a product like Musher’s Secret to protect and heal pads.