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  • Writer's pictureSacha Packer


Hairy feet always concern me because what lays beneath is hidden and when something is hidden it is often missed, not managed or rectified. As you can see from the photos, when you see the dog with its hairy feet, you don't really think much of it, you don't think there are incredibly long nails under that coat that are causing the dog much pain. In my clinic, I see the same thing reguarily with dogs with hairy feet - what happens is, the owner can't see how long the nails are or it makes them look shorter than what they are.

If you have a dog with hairy feet, I'd like to ask you to pull back the hair on your dogs feet so you can see where the nail actually starts so you can see how long it is...what do you think? Too long? A dogs nail should not touch the ground so if you walk your dog on a hard surface you should not be able to hear the clicking of their nails.

Best practice is to make a day every week to grab your scissors/hair clippers and nail clippers and trim your dogs hair around their pads and their nails. Clipping around their pads will also mean they can make better contact with slippery surfaces. Watch videos on how to trim your dogs feet hair here Weekly, to many people sounds like over kill because in the past people have been told to clip their dogs nails monthly however, this does not account for dogs whose nails grow very fast. Our very own Labrador x has to have his nails trimmed every 3 days to keep on top of them - we're not sure why, perhaps it's just genetics or perhaps it was that his nails weren't maintained as a young dog before we adopted him, nevertheless, the take home point here is to trim your dogs nails as often as they need to be trimmed.

Quicks Quicks are the internal structure of the nail which bleed when you cut them, the length of quicks are different in every dog. Some clients we see who we cut their dogs nails will have nails that grow but the quicks don't so it's incredibly easy to just go snip snip and we're done.

This photo is an example of a dog (Left) whose nails have been maintained weekly since they arrived as a puppy. The nails grow but the quicks do not, they are very easily managed and it's very easy to see where you need to cut when you look at the underside of the nail. Then you have dogs whose quicks grow with the nail (Right) which means you can't trim much off, this becomes a problem when the dog's nails are not maintained reguarily as the quick just continues to grow longer and longer and then you end up with a pretty big problem. This is our Lab x before a nail trim, you would only be able to take the tips off these nails and they would need to be done again in 3 days. We manage these nails best with a Dremel. Then, you have a nail that has a lot of 'flesh' that sits infront of the quick, this misleads the dog owner to think that what they're seeing is the quick when in fact it's not - these nails are super frustrating because you have to slice away at them bit by bit until you start to see the quick appear - these types of nails are the ones that become very overgrown very quickly and the owners loose confidnece trimming them - they are best sorted out with a dremel. Dew Claws

Dew claws are another issue, they're often forgotten and under a long coat, owners often don't see how long they get. They often have a sharp end on them and if that grows in an unfortunate manner it can grow into the dogs leg as they tend to curl as they grow.if the dogs dew claw is allowed to be long then there is more chance it will catch it on something and cause itself an injury. What if your dog hates having its nails cut or you simply can't do them yourself? The one thing you don't do is nothing, you'll need to have a friend, Vet or Groomer cut your dogs nails reguarily. On Facebook, there is a Nail Maintainence Group that offers members support and lot's of great ideas about how to get nails done. If you'd like to try at home to get your dog used to its feet being handled and nails being cut we recommend you come at it in small managable sessions: Feet Handling

Introducing your dog to the Dremel

Trimming your dogs nails with the Dremel

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