Dog health care: How to care for your dog’s nails

Caring for your dog’s nails

A puppy is born with long, hard nails. In theory, his was so the puppy could help push itself out of the birth sac. But upon its birth, the long nails become a hazard to its mother and its littermates. It is best to start trimming the nails soon after birth.

When the puppy starts walking, the nails will tap on the hardwood floors. It is again important to trim the nails, and to do so on a regular basis.

Don’t wait until your next vet visit to take care of the nail problem. This is something any responsible pet owner can take care of at home. It not only saves up to $10.00 per dog to do it yourself, it can build a bond between you and your dog.

First, you will need a good pair of nail clippers. Pet stores carry a wide range of these. Get the correct size for your size dog. One with a replaceable blade is especially good.

Dog health care: How to care for your dog's nails

Second, introduce the clippers gradually. Let your dog get used to you grabbing its paws. Make it a fun experience on the floor together.

The dog will instinctively think the clippers are trying to hurt him or her and may even try to bite you. Do your best to make this a rewarding and fun experience for your pet.

Make sure you have plenty of light for this delicate procedure. With light-colored toenails, there is less danger of cutting the “quick” when trimming the nails. The quick is the fleshy part of the dog’s nail that begins when the unwanted detritus ends. In dogs with black nails, it is exceedingly difficult to locate the quick, but there is a solution.

Cut the dog’s nails a tiny bit daily. The quick will slowly start to recede so you can clip more and more of the nail. If you wait a long time between trimmings, the quick will grow closer to the tip of the nail.

If you do cut the quick and the nail starts to bleed, it’s a good idea to have some powder or blood-stopping agent around. The dog will be fine but may not want you to come near his toenails for a while!

If you make it a pleasurable experience for the dog, it eventually won’t mind the clippers at all.

Why is it so important to cut a dog’s toenails? Doesn’t walking the dog on concrete wear down the nails?

The answer is yes, but dogs would have to walk on hard surfaces a great deal for this to have a noticeable effect. A dog’s nails are curved and if they are allowed to grow unchecked, they will eventually curve around and dig into the toe! This is especially true of the dewclaw.

The dewclaw can be found one to five inches up from the dog’s forefinger nail on the inside of the leg. If the dewclaws are still intact, they have no contact with the ground and can get very long. The risks of infection of the dewclaws are great, and if you don’t want your veterinarian to remove them through a simple operation, keep them trimmed.

Trimmed nails are an integral part of having a healthy dog. Trim the nails so the nails do not touch the floor when the dog is standing. Once you have the nails to their desired length, only weekly maintenance is needed.

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