Dog nail problems can be avoided by keeping them trimmed. Long nails pose a threat for several reasons. First, the clicking on concrete can make a dog’s feet sore. Second, they can easily become snagged on rugs or clothing.
Third, longer nails are more likely to be pulled loose from the skin, which can be excruciatingly painful. Finally, they can become ingrown, causing pain and an awkward gait.
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Dogs that take regular walks on hard surfaces do not require much nail trimming. The concrete acts as an abrasive, which files the nails down to an acceptable length.
The nail that needs the most attention is the ‘dew’ claw. This is the nail furthest away from the ground. It is least likely to become worn down by walking, and must be trimmed.
How to Safely Trim Nails
Nail clippers specifically for dogs are sold in pet supply stores. To work effectively, the trimmer must be very sharp. When they are dull, you have to put more pressure on the nail, which can be painful for your dog.
Beneath the hard layer of nail is a blood vessel. This must be avoided when trimming. If your dog’s nails are white, look for where the pink area begins. The pink coloring is the blood vessel, so make the cut below the pink border. In dogs with dark nails, use a flashlight directly behind the nail to locate the blood vessel.
Don’t panic if you accidentally cause the nail to bleed. If it happens, apply direct pressure, followed by 10 minutes of a sterile towel soaked in cold water. If you happen to keep Syptic Pads on hand, even better. These medicated pads stop bleeding instantly from a broken nail or a nail cut too short.
Split nails usually aren’t a problem. Trim the nail as far as possible down without cutting into the blood vessel. The nail will eventually re-grow into one piece.
Nails that are torn loose are very painful and have a high risk of getting infected. Take your dog to the Vet, who will probably remove the rest of the nail, using an anesthetic to ease the pain. Keep the area bandaged to protect dirt and moisture from getting in.