Dog nails wear down naturally from daily walking, and the length remains short enough to look good and
also such as not to hinder walking or paw placement. Lack of regular walking and exercise or inherent
changes in the local anatomy of the toes may lead to overgrown nails that are visibly long, make a
clicking sound when the dog walks on hard surfaces or in extreme cases grow long and curve inwards
towards the digital pads. The latter is especially the case in toy breeds and also in dew claws (because
they don’t touch the ground and thus the dew claw nails do not wear as would the claws on the main
weight bearing toes. Overgrown nails that curl and pierce into the digital pads cause extreme discomfort
and infection – this makes the pet resistant to handling and may even change the demeanor entirely
leading to a dog wanting to keep to themselves or being aggressive towards others for no apparent reason.
Maintaining the correct length of the nails is a function of nature, the owners and the veterinarian. All
three should ideally act in such unison that the dog will never have to suffer long, unsightly, painful
nails. Nature provides for normal wear, and the owners should instill a routine for walking their dogs
regularly to take advantage of this among other health benefits of walking and exercise for both dog and
human. Owners are also responsible for ensuring that their dogs are well socialized from an early age to
allow handling of their paws and toes such that they are not averse to nail clipping. Indeed, the best
person to clip nails would be the owners in the comfort of home and in a place where the dog feels safe
with minimum anxiety. The veterinarian ultimately is charged with educating the owners on the
interaction between nature, socialization and regular monitoring of their pets. As it would be in most
cases, the veterinarian has to clip nails of many of their patients, and it is always best if the dog is well
socialized and is used to handling, all said and done, dogs still exhibit different levels of anxiety when
having their nails trimmed varying from minimal stress to absolute resistance to handling and
To ensure minimal stress and success around nail clipping sessions consider the following pointers;
Avoid letting the nails overgrow in the first instance
Prepare the dog for the vet visit way in advance to minimize anxiety and stress, especially if a
dog doesn’t like nail clipping.
Never expect to cut all the nails in a single session.
For very long nails, the quick (nail bed that contains the blood supply) is usually overgrown too
so consider trimming the nails in two or three sessions some weeks apart to minimize bleeding
and discomfort (for the pet and owner)
Distract the dog as much as possible when clipping nails even if they tolerate it makes the
experience that much easier, and they are less likely to resist the next time they need to have
their nails clipped.
Use the right tools – some dogs will not like the sound of power tools and if using manual
clippers ensure they are of the right size, and that they are always sharp.
Always give treats and don’t forget to praise the dog even if the session was dramatic!
We trust this short article is useful and please do get back to us if you need any further clarification on
this or other matters concerning dog socialization, exercise and fear free practices.