5 good reasons to trim your dog's nails on a regular basis!

english Dec 27, 2020

I felt like writing a bit about dog nail trimming. I know how quickly the days can go by – and the days can turn into weeks – before you remember to check your dog’s nails.

You may think that your dog will wear down its nails by itself or that it’s not so bad if they grow too long – but in reality, there are many reasons to keep an eye on nail length. Here are 5 good reasons:

  1. Keeping the nails short will prevent them from being pressed up against the toe when the dog walks. This is important during the rollover phase (where the toe is pressed down towards the ground as the dog takes a step forward). Long nails will put pressure on the small toe joints and your dog will be more likely to develop soreness – and, in a worst-case scenario, osteoarthritis.
  2. Your dog's nails are formed to point slightly towards the ground, so it can flex its toes to grip the surface or avoid slipping. But when the nails get too long, they will point further and further forward. This overloads the toes and toe tendons, and causes them to stretch too far. Over time, this can contribute to toe problems like injuries and inflammation, and can make them less flexible. In addition, the clawing ability will be poor, and the dog may slip more easily.
  3. Long nails require your dog to spend more time on the rollover phase. Have you ever tried walking in shoes with very long tips? Your steps become slower – the loading phase and the rollover phase, which would normally be quite quick, take longer, leading to increased load on the legs. This interferes with the dog's biomechanics (movement pattern) and affects the way it walks, which can lead to overload in the whole body.
  4. Long nails attach more easily to the ground – especially in forest terrain and terrain where nails can be hooked into something. Making a sharp turn on an uneven surface with long nails may also cause the nails to twist too much. This can cause fractures, ruptures or soft tissue injuries in the toes.
  5. Towards the winter, long nails will more easily become cold, which means dogs that are sensitive to cold temperatures – or all dogs, if it is very cold – will be more likely to freeze or get frostbite in their paws.

My advice is: Cut the nails just a little bit at a time, but often. This will help your dog get used to nail clipping as something normal and common. If you find clipping difficult, seek professional help.

You should at least check the nails every single week, and cut when needed.

For those of you who work with dogs, either in treatment or training: this is knowledge that is worth having. If you see a dog with long nails, remember that the owner is usually more willing to listen to logical explanations than admonitions :-)

Hope you enjoyed the tips!

Line Oesterhagen/ Strong Dog

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