Quick Tip. The Best Schedule for Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Introduction

The quick is the soft tissue inside a dog’s nails that supplies nutrients and oxygen. Healthy nails keep the quick short and protected behind hard nail material. However, if a dog’s nails grow too long without trimming, the quick can extend and grow inside the nail. This is problematic because the quick contains nerves and blood vessels. Cutting into an overgrown quick will cause pain and bleeding.

Regular nail trimming keeps the quick at a safe, short length inside the nail. Most dogs require nail trims every 2-4 weeks to prevent overgrowth. Neglecting regular trims allows nails and the quick to elongate, putting dogs at risk for health issues like infected nails, embedded debris, and bone deformities from altered gait. Therefore, it’s vital to trim overgrown nails carefully and gradually to recede the quick back to a healthy position.

Signs Your Dog’s Quick is Too Long

There are some clear signs that indicate when your dog’s nail quick has become overgrown:

  • Long nails clicking on the floor as your dog walks. This sound often signifies nails that are too long.
  • The nails are curving and starting to grow in a circle shape that can embed into your dog’s paw pads. This causes pain and discomfort.
  • Your dog avoids fully touching their paws to the ground and walks gingerly. Overgrown nails put pressure on the toes and are painful.
  • Nails that are splitting and cracking. Brittle, overgrown nails are prone to breaking which exposes the quick.

Paying attention to these signs will allow you to identify overgrown quicks early and take action to shorten them before they become problematic.

Dangers of Overgrown Nails

Overgrown nails can cause significant pain and discomfort in a dog’s feet. As the nails grow too long, they put pressure on the dog’s toes and push the toe joints out of their normal positions. This altered gait can lead to soreness in the feet as well as joint problems in the legs, hips, and back from improper movement and weight distribution (The Kennel Club).

dog with overgrown nails

Long nails are also more prone to splitting, cracking, and breaking, which is extremely painful for dogs. The quick inside the nail continues growing as the nail lengthens. Long quicks have little structural support from the nail around them, making them vulnerable to injury (Rover). This can cause bleeding and discomfort.

Furthermore, excessively long nails interfere with a dog’s ability to stand and walk properly. The nails may clack loudly on the floor and get caught on things like carpets or bedding. It becomes increasingly difficult for the dog to perform normal activities. They may have issues with balance, posture, and agility.

How Often To Trim

Most adult dogs will need their nails trimmed every 2-4 weeks. This helps keep the quicks short and the nails from getting too long. According to Rover, monthly nail trims are appropriate for adult dogs who have nails that are already in good shape.

Puppies often need more frequent trims, such as every 1-2 weeks. Their nails grow more quickly and the quicks are softer. Trimming them regularly when they are young will make it easier to maintain short quicks as adults.

Some active dogs who run on hard surfaces may wear down their nails naturally. These dogs may only need trims every 4-6 weeks. It’s important to closely monitor the nail length and quick of individual dogs to determine the optimal trimming frequency.

Trimming Technique To Shorten Quick

The key to safely shortening your dog’s quick is to trim only a small amount of nail at a time. Taking off just a tiny bit each session prevents trauma to the quick.

Be sure to use high-quality, sharp trimmers to cut the nail cleanly without crushing it, which can be painful. Nail clippers designed specifically for dogs, like the Safari Professional Nail Trimmer (https://www.rover.com/blog/how-to-trim-dog-nails-that-are-overgrown/), are recommended.

trimming dog's nails

Cut the nail at a slight angle, following the natural curve of the nail, to avoid hitting the quick. Cutting straight across perpendicularly increases the chances of quicking. Only take off about 1/16th of an inch at a time to be safe (https://www.scenthound.com/dogblog/how-to-get-your-dogs-overgrown-nail-quick-to-recede).

Inspect the cross-section after each trim. The quick will be a darker center surrounded by lighter nail. Stop trimming as soon as you see any sign of the quick to avoid bleeding and pain.

Aftercare

If you accidentally cut the quick and your dog’s nail starts bleeding, it’s important to stop the bleeding right away. Apply a small amount of styptic powder or gel directly to the nail with a cotton swab or paper towel. Styptic powder helps constrict the blood vessels and stop bleeding fast (1). Be sure to praise your dog and give them a treat after applying the styptic, so they don’t become afraid of having their nails trimmed.

Monitor your dog’s nails for the next few days following the trim. Check for signs of infection like persistent bleeding, redness, swelling, discharge, or foul odor. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian. Most minor quick nicks will heal on their own within a few days if kept clean (2). Avoid strenuous walks or playtime that could open the wound back up until it fully heals.

It’s also a good idea to keep styptic powder or gel on hand in a first-aid kit so you can quickly treat any future nail clipping mishaps.

Sources:
(1) https://wahlusa.com/expert-advice/grooming-pets/how-treat-dog-nail-bleeding-during-trimming
(2) https://toegrips.com/how-to-stop-a-dogs-nail-from-bleeding/

At-Home Options To Shorten Quick

There are several at-home options to help shorten an overgrown quick:

Frequent Trimming Technique:
Trimming the nails frequently, a small amount at a time, can help condition the quick to recede. According to Rover.com, trim “just the very tip of the nail, clipping off a tiny bit of the overgrown part daily or every other day.” https://www.rover.com/blog/how-to-trim-dog-nails-that-are-overgrown/ This gradual trimming allows the quick to slowly recede back.

Filing/Grinding Nails:
filing dog's nails
Using a nail file or grinder to gently smooth down the overgrown parts of the nail can be less traumatic than clipping. Work carefully to avoid the quick. The gentle filing action can help desensitize the quick and get it to recede.

Concrete/Rough Surfaces:
Allowing your dog to walk on abrasive surfaces like concrete or a rough dog nail file can help wear down overgrown nails naturally. The friction scrapes away excess nail length. Be sure to avoid having them walk on hot pavement that could burn their paws.

Vet Cauterization:
In rare cases of extremely overgrown nails where the quick is protruding, a vet may cauterize the tip of the nail to stop bleeding and allow for trimming. This should only be done as a last resort when other options have failed.

When To See A Professional

In some cases, it’s best to take your dog to a professional groomer or veterinarian for nail trims instead of trying to trim them yourself:

  • If nails are very overgrown – Long quicks can be difficult and risky for an owner to trim. Professionals have the proper tools and experience.
  • If you quick the dog frequently – Accidentally hitting the quick while trimming can be painful and scary for a dog. Seeing a pro can reduce quicking.
  • For anxious/aggressive dogs – Dogs who get stressed, nip, or won’t let owners touch their paws may do better with a groomer or vet.
  • For medical issues like ingrown nails – Ingrown nails require medical treatment. Vets can provide medication and surgical options.

Seeing a professional groomer every 4-6 weeks can maintain healthy nail length and prevent issues from developing with overgrown quicks. For severely overgrown nails, a vet visit may be required. Ultimately, professional trims reduce the risks of at-home trimming for owners.

Preventing Overgrown Quicks

The best way to prevent overgrown quicks is to start trimming your dog’s nails at a young age. Puppies’ nails grow quickly, so get them used to regular nail trims during the first year. Give your puppy treats and praise during each session to make it a positive experience.

Also, handle your dog’s paws frequently, not just during trims. Gently touch their toes and press on their pads to desensitize them to having their feet handled. This makes nail trims easier as they get older.

handling puppy's paws

Allow your dog to walk on rough surfaces like concrete or pavement whenever possible. The abrasion helps wear down the nails naturally. However, beware of hot pavement in the summertime, as this can burn paws. Do outdoor walks early or late when it’s cooler.

By establishing a lifelong routine of regular trims, rewarding cooperation, handling paws often, and providing abrasive surfaces, you can prevent overgrown quicks and avoid associated health issues.

Summary

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed to an appropriate length is crucial for their health and comfort. Overgrown nails can lead to pain, mobility issues, and broken quicks. By regularly trimming your dog’s nails every 2-4 weeks, you can avoid the quick becoming overgrown.

If your dog’s quicks happen to be quite long already, there are techniques such as frequent trims, filing, and the use of a Dremel tool that can help shorten them over time. Avoid cutting into the quick, as this is painful for dogs. Go slowly and trim only a small amount each time.

If your dog has extremely overgrown quicks that are proving very difficult to shorten at home, consult your veterinarian. They can trim small amounts under sedation or use cauterization methods to shorten the quick. With diligence and gradual trimming or filing, most quicks can be shortened at home. Consistent nail care will keep your dog comfortable and prevent lengthy quicks from developing.

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