You may have seen recently that the Herzhund E litter of Labradors left K9 Pro HQ for their new homes, and I was lucky enough to be able watch and take part in the first 8 weeks of their lives.
The confidence these puppies displayed with everything they did and very new challenge that was put to them was amazing to see.
This was due to a combination of both superb genetics and the time and knowledge that was put into raising them.
The groomer in me was particularly interested in ensuring that the pups were conditioned to having their nails clipped – this was done usually twice a week since birth.
They also were comfortable having their ears, paws, eyes and coat cleaned and touched, and of course happy to have a bath. And that they were.
But many of us dog owners haven’t had the luxury of owning our dogs since puppy’s or if we have they may have not been exposed to as much at such a young age and it’s something that is often overlooked but can impact their health later on in life.
One of the first things I often notice on a dog is their nails, it’s an OCD trait of mine. But if they’re not annoying us by clicking on the floorboards it’s often not something we think about, but at that length they’re already pushing into the soft tissue of the paw and impacting the dogs structure and gait.
Toes can become sore, twisted and even arthritic.
And many owners would tell me how their dogs don’t like having their nails trimmed, and when their nails are already long and sore and being manipulated to be cut I can see why.
In fact when I took on my Pug as a 5yo ex puppy farm breeder she would much rather cause herself to hyperventilate than have her nails trimmed.
But although it may not be fun for the dog or ourselves, the more often it’s done, their less painful it is for all involved, the quicker the quick will recede, the pain declines and the process becomes much quicker and easier.
My favourite tools of the trade are the Herm Sprenger nail clippers these are perfect from puppies through to adult dogs with the exception of giant breeds.
They have a scissor action and slice through the nail rather than crushing the nail like the guillotine style clippers.
They also have a limiter which prevents the user from cutting off too much nail. http://k9pro.com.au/nail-clippers-herm-sprenger/
I make sure I’m trimming my dogs nails in a well-lit room and on a surface my dog is comfortable with. You can’t make an accurate cut on a moving target so make sure your dog is well secured!
I hold the foot firmly but gently to avoid cutting the quick should the dog decide to suddenly move or pull away, using my fingers to separate the dogs toes to clearly see each nail I’m working on. Be careful not to squeeze the dog’s toes or foot.
Keep the nail clipper blades parallel to the nail, never cut across as this can squeeze the nail causing discomfort.
I then clip the nails via the guide below, using the first cut angle to remove the bulk of the nail.
You may find you need to do this cut more than once taking small amounts at a time to remove the insensitive nail without cutting the quick.
I then do the second and third cut angle to remove the sides of the insensitive nail and encourage the quick to recede.
Keep in mind that I’ve never known of a dog dying from a quicked toenail, no matter how much carry on or blood there may be.
If you do happen to nick the quick, keep the dog calm, a highly aroused dog will lead to a higher blood pressure and make it harder to stem the bleeding.
Put pressure on the quicked nail with a gauze and then dip styptic powder or cornflour to stop the bleeding.
For nails that are needing to have quite a bit of length taken off them I would recommend trimming them at least weekly and fortnightly for regular maintenance.
My other favourite tool of the trade is a cordless Dremel. If your dog struggles with the sound or feel of nail clippers than a cordless Dremel may be an easier option. It works in a filing motion and removes the nail slowly.
This can be done daily to help recede the quick, be sure to only have the Dremel touching the nail for a short period of time to avoid the nail heating up.
When to call in a professional?
If your dog knows you’re uncomfortable trimming their nails or you’re concerned about trimming black nails it’s time to see your groomer or vet for a quick, and inexpensive appointment that can have a profound effect on your dog’s comfort, structure and gait.
We have had dogs at K9Pro that have had extreme reactions to having their feet touched, nails trimmed etc.
It can be worthwhile to have a behaviour consult to look at the root cause of this, be it trauma in the past, or another reason, there can be other things going on that can drive this.
We recently had a dog come to stay with us for board and rehab and Steve discovered that the dogs back needed some treatment, as there was some inflammation and swelling through the back.
This meant that lifting the dogs leg off the ground was very painful, and was driving an aggressive reaction…
Love to hear all comments and sharing is welcome!
Claire Richards K9Pro – The K9 Professionals