CARE DOG TOENAILS

Overgrown or ingrown toenails can be very troublesome. The nails of young puppies grow rapidly, particularly if the puppy doesn't get outdoors where he can wear down the nails by digging. Consequently, you can expect sharp nails, capable of putting holes in your stockings, trousers and skin. If neglected, the nails can become quite curved, snagging on clothes, rugs and other objects. Also, a pup can dislodge a nail when he tries to yank them out of a rug or cloth. Long nails make a dog slip-prone and interfere with his traction on smooth or glazed floors.

Approach the first nail-clipping session with caution. A young puppy may put up a fight and it will be safest to have someone restrain the dog while you do the nail trimming. Work quietly and easily, reassuring the pup as you work. Use blunt-end scissors or your own toenail clippers. Just snip off the transparent end of the nails; if you cut too much, you may cut into the "quick." The quick is sensitive and likely to bleed. If you should happen to cut into the quick and bleeding occurs, take a piece of gauze, clean cloth or tissue and press against the bleeding part. Keep the pup quiet and off his feet for a few minutes, until the blood has had time to clot. After clipping the nails, you can smooth the rough edges with an emery board.

Older dogs that live indoors most of their lives need to have their nails trimmed every two weeks or so. You can easily judge when the nails need trimming. Either the nails make a clatter when the dog walks on the floor or they touch the floor when he is standing up straight. If your dog has noisy nails or they are too long, a nail-trimming session is in order. Use regular human toenail clippers for small dogs. Larger breeds need special nail clippers available is most pet shops or pet supply stores.

Clip the older dog's nails carefully and watch out for the quick. Some dogs have dark nails and the quick is not readily seen. In this case, it is better to take off small bits, enough to stop any clattering or dragging on the floor. After clipping, file off any rough edges or snags. A routine nail clipping will cause the quicks to recede and they will remain short, just so long as you trim the nails about every two weeks.

Dewclaws or dog thumbs

On the inside of your puppy's legs, just above the paws, you will find some extra claws. These are the dewclaws. They are vestigial claws, once having served as thumbs during the early evolution of the dog. In young puppies, the dewclaws are attached rather loosely to the leg with cartilage. Later on, they become more firmly fastened to the leg bone. They are useless and should be removed.

Removing the dewclaws is a job for the veterinarian and should be done while the puppy is still young. The operation is a comparatively simple one. One breed, the Great Pyrenees, features the dewclaws as a breed standard, so if you have a Great Pyrenees and want to show it, leave the dewclaws on.

If you have an older dog with dewclaws, clip the dewclaw nails when you trim the other nails. Dewclaw nails also have quicks, so watch out for them. Occasionally, dewclaw nails grow backward and into the surrounding skin. When they do this, they become a source of pain and infection. Overgrown dewclaw nails may have to be surgically removed.


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