Saturday, September 27, 2014

5 rules on dog nail health

Jasmine fought the cat and lost.

I had just started to feed the dogs and I guess Jazzy got nervous when Galadriel walked in. All of a sudden there was snarling and hissing and shrieking and barking!

Naturally I checked the cat first after I separated them. There was blood in her fur but I found no actual wound. Jasmine, on the other hand, was licking her paw furiously. Her dewclaw nail was hanging by a thread, there was blood every where. 

Jasmine's paws, her damaged dewclaw, and the dewclaw on her other paw.
I managed to find a vet open early enough on a Saturday morning. But I was freaking out. I don't deal with my dog's nails. I take them to the groomer. So seeing the nail like that had me panicking.

I asked groomer Brenda Cox from Blue Ribbon Pet Grooming in Oregon.  She helped me learn five new things about nail health.

1) You should have the nails cut every month, three weeks if you need them shorter.
Brenda says the hard and fast rule is if you can hear the nails as the dog walks, they need to get cut.

"Nails are very important to keep up on for the dog," Brenda said. "When the nail gets too long it's like wearing shoes too small and in time the nail will twist or toe will turn which can lead to early arthritis, but always will have a sore painful foot."

2) Watch for the quick (kwick).
"Every nail has a quick or vein in them," Brenda said. "Depending on how the dog walks or level of activity will say where to trim, but always just to the quick."

This diagram below gives you a good idea what the quick look like. This also shows you that if you let the nail get too long, the quick will get longer too.

3. Dark or black nails are as difficult as they look.
An experienced eye can better see where the vein is. For the rest of us, Brenda offered this advice.

"If there are some clear or pink nails, one can sort of judge the same amount trimmed off," Brenda said.

Which only makes me more determined to stick with my groomer.

4. Clipping or grinding is more preference than anything.
"Either is fine, but dremeling will get closer to the quick or vein in nail," Brenda said. "Also for thin skin people dremel is better."

5.  Treat a broken nail immediately. And yes, lots of bleeding is expected.
"If it is hanging on still, then trim if off immediately," Brenda said. "Vet would be ok but expensive. Your local groomer can also just have to hold the nail in a towel till it stops bleeding enough to put quick stop on."

Also, just know that just because your dog doesn't like having his nails cut, doesn't mean you should cut the nails less.

"Most people take that as "the dog doesn't like his feet messed with" and will do it less," Brenda said. "The opposite needs to happen and keep it up more to keep dogs paws out of pain!"

We are taking part in the Caring for Critters Round Robin.
 Head to the Heart Like a Dog community page to learn more about pet health.


  1. That must have been terrifying for you. I'm glad your vet was open and could help you with the nail.

    I like to have Sampson's nails trimmed by a professional because we have made him bleed a couple of times. One thing which may help is Styptic powder. If the nail is bleeding take a bit of the powder on a q-tip and pack it into the nail. It is the same stuff men use to stop the bleeding when they cut themselves shaving.

    Thank you for adding this to the Round Robin.

  2. I would have freaked out with all that blood, too! All of us hate nail trimming here at our house. Too many black nails and guess work :-(

  3. Black nails scare the crap out of me Sue. Glad I'm not the only one!


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