Long claws are more prone to chipping, tearing, splitting and breaking, which can be very painful and may require veterinary treatment. As well as being prone to damage, when a dog stands or walks on a long-clawed paw it puts pressure on the wrong parts of the foot, causing pain and discomfort.
The easiest, stress-free way to keep those nails filed down is “naturally.” This happens when your dog is walking or running on rough surfaces enough to keep the nails short.
Long nails bend and catch on just about everything, causing both immediate and long term pain. It's important to examine your dog's nails and keep them adequately short to prevent pain and limping. Have your dog's nails trimmed regularly, but if one breaks seek veterinary care immediately.
As long nails hit the ground, it puts force on the foot and leg structure. This force can potentially lead to arthritis and ongoing pain. The growth pattern of a dog's nails forms a curved shape. If left untrimmed, the claws will eventually curve under the dog's paws and dig into the skin, creating pain when they walk.
Anatomy of a Nail
Just like human nails, dogs do not have any feeling in the nail itself, but the quick contains a nerve that transmits sensations back to the brain. When trimming the nail, it is important to stay far enough from the quick to avoid causing pain or drawing blood.
Dogs need their nails clipped and filed on a regular basis, usually every 3 to 4 weeks. It is not uncommon for dog owners to wait too long between nail clipping. Overdue nails can raise health issues. Extended growth can result in painful ingrown nails.
In the wild, wolves and coyotes keep their nails short through digging and running after prey for hours. Since your dog is likely not running around in the wilderness all day, you may need to walk them on concrete to help keep their nails at a reasonable length.
It's best to not cut within 2 millimeters of the quick. As you cut the nail deeper, a gray to pink oval starts 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 and cause bleeding.
Place the nail clipper over each nail. Hold your dog firmly but gently and reassure him, provide a treat or distraction. Start squeezing clippers near the toes to make a clipping sound but do not actually clip the nail. Place the clipper on your dog's nail, but near the end, far away from the quick, and clip the nail.
The other advantage of grinding vs. clipping is how the high-speed filing makes it easy to round off the tip of the nail, whereas clipping often leaves sharp edges. If your dog tends to paw at people for attention, this can be problematic until the nails naturally wear down into a more rounded shape.
First, gently hold your dog's paw in your hand. While looking down at your dog's semi-transparent nails, locate the pink region in the center of each nail. This pink area showing through the outside of the nail is the quick. It's that simple!
Ideally you should not hear your dog's nails clicking on the floor. You don't need to get the nails very short because your dog still needs to dig into the earth when running outside. The nails should be short enough to avoid touching the floor when standing.
Ask for a sedated nail trim.
Unless there is a medical reason not to sedate your dog, your vet should be able to do a sedated trim. Being sedated should make the nail trim process less traumatic for your pup.
So if your puppy whines when you are cutting his nails, it doesn't necessarily mean you've hurt him. It may just be that he's anxious about the process and the strange pressure on his nails.
The main reason dogs hate getting their nails clipped is because of the pain. It doesn't hurt them if they are clipped correctly but if your dog has been cut too close to their nerve in their nail, even once, he will remember it.
No one should physically force a dog to have its nails trimmed, even if it is muzzled. If it is aggressively trying to stop the process from occurring by growling, snarling, or trying to bite then an injectable sedative should be administered or the nail trim should be stopped.
Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Include the dewclaws, located on the inner side of the paw. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting what is called the quick (the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels).
In most cases, after a dog's nails are trimmed the quick will start to recede after about 7 days. Depending on how long your dog's nails and quicks are, it might take a few months before you can get their nail to the desired length.
Trimming slowly and vertically on both the top and bottom of the nail as well as the sides a bit, allows you to avoid the quick by visualizing it sooner. It's important to go slowly and give your dog lots of praise and positive rewards (treats) throughout the process.