Most dog owners go above and beyond to take care of their furbaby, feeding them and keeping them clean. There’s more to a good grooming routine than bathing and brushing teeth, though.
If your dog’s claws grow too long, it can be extremely uncomfortable for them. It can also lead to injuries or infections for your pet, or nasty scratches for you.
How do you know when your dog’s claws are getting too long? And how can you trim them without hurting them? Newsweek has spoken to a veterinarian to find out more about trimming dogs’ claws. Below is everything you need to know.
What Happens If You Let Your Dog’s Claws Grow Too Long
Dr. Christian Broadhurst, senior staff veterinarian at Clay Humane in Florida, told Newsweek that claw care is an important aspect of dog ownership, because claws left untrimmed can cause injury to both the animal and the owner.
He said: “Long claws are prone to splitting, getting caught between boards on decks and walkways, or even being partially ripped out by getting ensnared in blankets or carpets. While not life-threatening, these are painful injuries that make dogs foot shy and make further nail trims more challenging.”
Claws splitting can lead to infections, which will require an immediate, and probably costly, visit to the veterinarian. Excessively long claws can also cause pain and pressure on the toes and paws, which can result in strain on their legs.
How Do You Know When Your Dog’s Claws Are Too Long?
One tell-tale sign is that you can hear the claws tapping on the floor when your dog walks on a hard surface. Good-size claws are not supposed to make any clicking sounds.
You can also tell from looking at their paws. If you can see the claw protruding over their pad and touching the ground when they’re standing, it’s definitely time for a good “pawdicure.”
There’s a touch test too. If you hold your dog’s paw flat on the palm of your hand and the nails touch your hand, they are too long.
Tips to Help You Trim Your Dogs’ Claws
The easiest thing to do when your pupper’s claws are too long is take them to a grooming salon. Trained experts will trim them and you won’t have to worry about hurting your dog.
If you prefer doing it at home by yourself there are some things you need to know first.
Inside each claw is the quick, which is a highly sensitive bundle of nerves and blood vessels. These bleed when cut or injured, so you must be really careful when handling them.
If your dog’s claws are clear, which is usually the case when it has white paws, the quick inside them appears pink while the nails are white—so it’s easy to tell where the quick starts. If the dog’s claws are dark it’s much harder to tell where the quick is.
According to Dr. Broadhurst, owners that start with their dogs at young ages can become very comfortable trimming their claws, but many people fear quicking the nails.
He said: “Quicking the nails means cutting them back to the blood supply, which is a painful and bloody experience that makes your pet much less likely to let you trim their nails again.
“If you are going to do it at home, get high-quality trimmers and start by taking small snips off the end of the claws. You can always take more off later.
“Don’t forget the dewclaws, the equivalent of our thumbs, that most dogs have on their front legs.”
To make it a more positive experience for your dog, he recommends rewarding them with praise and lots of treats for letting you near them with the trimmers.