Nail Care For Dogs


What is the quick and what do I need to know about it?

  • The quick is the living part of a pet’s nail and has blood vessels running throughout. Cutting into the quick during nail trimming will result in bleeding. The higher up you cut the more painful and fierce the bleeding will be.
  • Another important fact to note is that the quick grows with the nail. As a pet’s nails grow longer the quick will also lengthen. So if your pet’s nails are overgrown you will not be able to clip the nails to the correctly desired length without cutting into the quick.
  • There are two ways to deal with this:
  1. You will need to trim the tips of your dog’s nails often, and over time the quick will shorten OR
  2. your vet or groomer can cut them right back, stop the bleeding, disinfect and seal the cut.

Why do dogs need to have their nails cut?

Not all dogs need their nails cut.  If you pet walks often and on a hard surface where the nails can naturally grind down, you only need to check up and make sure the dew claws (the nails that are a little bit higher up on the leg and not all dogs have them) are kept trimmed.  These nails do not come in contact with the surface and does not get the opportunity to grind down by them self.

Having overgrown nails can cause several health issues for your pet.  When the nail grows, it naturally curls.  Best case scenario it curls over itself and misses the pad.  Worst case which happens quite regularly, it grows right into the pad and causes infection and severe pain every time your dog walks. This can cause secondary health issues because of the discomfort the dog is in, he or she will attempt not to walk on the leg with the ingrown nail.  Over time this will cause an imbalance in posture which then will lead to complications such as arthritis. Convinced yet?

How will I know nails need to be cut?

Dog’s nails are naturally longer than human nails so we cannot compare and say their nails need to be cut because it is longer than ours.

In dogs with white nails, it is easy to see where the quick or blood vessel runs. In black nails, it is trickier.  You can attempt to cut one nail and snip it off a bit at a time until you can see the start of the quick.  Or just go and get help from your animal care provider. As a rule of thumb when you hold your finger on your dog’s paw pad, the nail should be flush with the pad.  Any growth over that should be cut to help your dog move easily.

What if I accidentally cut the quick?

If you accidentally cut the quick, try any of the following home remedy methods:

  • dip a cotton bud in cornstarch or baking powder and dab it against the bleeding nail
  • Push the nail through a wet bar of soap. Don’t wipe the soap off until the blood has clotted.
  • You can buy the styptic powder that groomers use
  • Vets use potassium permanganate powder: it acts as both an antiseptic and a disinfectant. It also promotes clotting. Be very careful though because it leaves a terrible brown stain on dogs with white coats.  It will also stain any material and surfaces it comes into contact with.

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