Tips for cutting pets’ nails
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
As predicted, the spring parade of broken nails and preventive nail trimmings has begun. We commonly trim our fingernails when they get long to prevent nail cracks or chips. The same happens to our pets, mostly our K-9 friends, after a long winter of growth without wear.
Why not just get out the clippers and trim the nails? Not only are most pets fearful or reluctant for this process, but many pet owners are also afraid to do this relatively basic grooming procedure. Many come with horror stories of bleeding nails and excessive struggling to get the job done.
An early intervention with the puppy by handling the feet and lightly trimming the nail with a regular nail clipper introduces the pet to the nail trimming concept. A few treats and a calm voice will go a long way in reducing future nail trim anxiety. Ask your veterinarian to explain toenail anatomy so you understand the structure.
An introduction to Kwik-Stop powder is important and should be a part of every nail trimming kit. No matter how cooperative your pet or how experienced the trimmer, there may be a sudden movement resulting in a short nail and exposure to the quick (soft tissue) and bleeding. Having the clotting powder right there will save many anxious moments and possibly an emergency visit to your veterinary office.
For those dogs already overly anxious or reluctant to have nails trimmed by their owners, many veterinary practices or pet groomers offer this service. This small investment is much less than having to medically deal with a deeply quicked or broken nail.
There are those few very fearful dogs that may require sedation by a veterinarian once or twice a year to do the preventative nail trim.
Some pets have elevated dew claws that appear to grow much faster than the other nails because they never touch the ground to be worn down. As these grow and start to curl, they may require more frequent trimming to prevent them from hooking onto carpets or other materials and being pulled off to expose the bone and soft tissue inside the nail. With this injury, as with other nails deeply cracked or torn, your veterinarian may recommend removal of the exposed tissue under sedation to allow a new nail to grow and reduce discomfort and the potential of infection.
On a final note, some dogs, if introduced early, may accept a nail grinding with a Dremmel-type tool or even a fingernail file rather than the regular nail trimmer. It has been my experience that the rechargeable battery type, compared to the plug-in multitools, have a slower speed and lower pitched sound and tend to be better accepted by pets.
Again, ask your veterinarian or skilled veterinary technician about nail trimming. This is an important part of your pet’s overall paw health.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.