Keeping your dog's nails trimmed is an important part of your grooming routine. If you regularly walk your dog on pavement, the hard surface acts as a nail file for dogs, wearing down your pup's nails so you don't need to trim them as often.
Problems with long dog nails
Allowing your dog's nails to grow too long can cause a lot of problems for your pup. As the nails continue to grow, they can curl around and grow into your dog's paw. This is called an ingrown nail. In addition, the long nails can change the way the paw contacts the ground. The result is that the foot is splayed. This stretches out the tendons and can cause permanent damage over time.
Video of the Day
In addition, the longer the nail, the longer the quick. The quick is the part of the nail that has blood and nerve supply. This means that if your dog does wear down his nails or breaks a nail, it is more likely to bleed and be painful for your pup. However, nails that are regularly trimmed have a shorter quick that is less likely to be damaged.
Dog walking on pavement
Pavement and other hard or rough surfaces can act as a nail file for dogs. The more time your dog spends walking and running on sidewalks and asphalt, the more the nails wear down. This means that you don't need to trim her nails as often. But you will likely still need to trim your dog's nails, unless you are walking on pavement very frequently.
Keep in mind that dogs also have dewclaws on the inside of their legs. Most dogs have them on their front legs, and some dogs will even have dewclaws on their hind legs. These claws won't come in contact with the pavement, so be sure to check your dog's nails each week and trim them as needed.
Pavement safety considerations
While walking on pavement can be beneficial for wearing down your dog's nails, there are some dangers from which you need to protect your dog. During the summer months, hot pavement can easily burn your dog's paws. When the temperature rises to 85 degrees Fahrenheit or more, it is time to start taking precautions when walking your pup.
Check the temperature by placing your bare hand or foot on the pavement for 10 seconds to see if it is too hot for your dog. Consider walking early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler. If you must walk during the hotter parts of the day, opt for shady areas or play in a grassy field.
Likewise, snowy and icy roads can be a concern for your pup. Many municipalities may treat sidewalks and roads with de-icing salts. These can irritate your dog's paw and are dangerous if ingested. Sharp ice can cut his paws. If your dog has long fur between his pads, snow can build up into a ball and be quite uncomfortable. Keep the fur trimmed and wash your dog's paws as soon as you return home to remove any harmful chemicals.
Clippers or nail file for dogs
Even if you walk regularly on pavement, you will still need to trim your dog's nails on occasion, especially the dewclaw. It is a good idea to check the nails each week and handle your dog's paws. Even if a trim isn't required weekly, getting in the habit will ensure your dog is used to having his paws handled. If you have concerns about trimming your dog's nails on your own, you can take her to a groomer or ask your vet tech to give you a demonstration and tips.
Sharp nail clippers for dogs are probably the fastest and easiest way to trim your dog's nails. Hold your dog's paw with one hand and with the clippers in the other hand, cut to remove the tip of the nail. You can also use a grinder or nail file for dogs. This takes longer, but you are less likely to hit the quick with this method. Each file has a different design and instructions, but generally, you will want to grind the bottom of the nail first to shorten the nail and then smooth out the rough edges on the tip of the nail.
- American Kennel Club: Nail Neglect Can Lead to Health Problems for Your Dog
- VCA Animal Hospitals: First Aid for Broken Nails in Dogs
- American Kennel Club: How Hot Is Too Hot for a Dog’s Paws?
- Preventive Vet: How to Properly Care for Your Dog's Paw Pads
- American Kennel Club: How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails Safely