Unless your dog runs around on hard surfaces that help keep toenails short, you have to clip them about once a week - if you hear them clicking on a hard surface, it’s time for a trim.
Most dogs detest having their feet handled, so clipping may never be your favorite shared activity, but getting your dog used to this ritual at an early stage helps you both weather the process. Try giving your dog a yummy treat after the trimming session, along with a big hug, a boisterous “Good dog!” and a healthy scratch behind the ears.
Unlike human nails which are essentially flat layers of keratin with a hidden blood supply, dog nails are living appendages with a blood supply and sensitive nerve endings that run directly down the center of the nail called a “quick”.
The outer portion of the nail is hard and has no feeling because it has no nerve endings, while the core of the nail “the quick” is comprised of small blood vessels and sensitive nerve endings, should you in a zealous quest to cut your dogs nails hit the quick, it will not only be extremely uncomfortable for the dog and create a negative association with the process, it will bleed.
Ideally in a perfect world all dogs would have transparent nails allowing you to easily distinguish exactly where the quick ends, however in reality many dogs have nails that are completely black which totally obfuscates the location of the quick within the nail.
Dog Toe nail color is generally determined by the color of the surrounding hair and skin, dogs with dark hair around the nails will generally have dark or entirely black nails, while dogs with white or light colored hair around the nails will be the opposite having nails that are more translucent. The rule to remember when triming nails - little and often!
The average Dog Toenail in need of trimming. The quick is represented as the grey shaded area in the drawing and is the pink area in the actual nail picture.
This nail is excessively long, to the point that the nail tip touches the ground as the dog walks pushing the toes up and altering the way that the pads touch the ground.
A properly trimmed and maintained dog toenail. Notice that the quick has receded to a point that the nail can be cut to a healthy and manageable length.
There are 2 main styles of nail trimmers on the market today, the Scissor type of which there are two main variations, a Curved blade type and Straight blade type and the Guillotine variety which is fairly standard and of which there are not a lot of variations.
If you get over zealous and either decide to push it and trim a little more after seeing the grey oval form or if you make an honest mistake and trim a little to close. At this point the dog may feel some discomfort but you have avoided actually trimming off the end of the quick causing major discomfort and bleeding.
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