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May 6, 2014


Dear Dr. Wise,

Can we trim our dog’s nails at home?


Yes! Proper nail care will keep your dog healthy and help prevent unnecessary pain and infection later on. Most dogs don't like to have their feet handled, so go slowly one paw at a time and make foot handling a part of playtime. Your dogs nails should just touch the ground, if the nails are clicking on the floor this is an indicator that it is time for a trimming.

Regular exercise on a hard surface may keep a dog's nails worn down. However, most dogs will need to have their nails clipped monthly. If your dog has dewclaws (the smaller claw on the back of each leg, higher than the paws), those will always need clipping. If the nails or dewclaws are allowed to grow, they may curl inward into the pad causing pain and may become infected.

Use nail clippers designed specifically for dogs. One type, known as the guillotine style, has a round opening for the dog's nail and a blade that slides across to clip the nail. Another type works like a pair of scissors.

Trim only the "hook" end of the nail. Clipping a nail too short can be painful and may cause bleeding. Frequent trimming of a small amount of nail always is better than waiting until the nail is long.  If the nail starts bleeding at home, the bleeding can be stopped by putting a small amount of flour on the end on the nail and applying pressure on it for a few minutes.

The quick in dogs with white nails is easy to see as a pink structure within the nail, try to leave at least 1/8th of an inch of nail between the nail clippers and the quick. In dogs with black nails the quick cannot be seen. In these dogs a small amount of nail must be taken off at a time. As you cut off small pieces of the nail, look at the cut edge of the nail. The light tissue (1) is the curved bottom part of the nail. The mottled light and dark tissue (2) is the top part of the nail. As you cut the nail deeper, you will see a homogeneous gray to pink oval (3) starting to appear at the top of the cut surface of the nail. Stop cutting the nail at this point as additional cutting will cut into the quick.  I hope this information helps, but the most important thing to remember is to give your pet a treat when you are finished.



Dr. Wise



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