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What to Do About Extremely Overgrown Dog Nails?

White speckled paw with overgrown nails on a tile floor

Nail trimming is an important aspect of a dog’s care regime because dog nails can grow wildly. It makes your pup’s paws look ugly and can also be very painful. Hence, overgrown nails can trigger irrevocable damage that can be easily averted through a simple trimming session. Read on to know about the problems associated with overgrown dog nails and learn how to avoid them.

Signs of Overgrown Dog Nails

The following are some common indicators that your dog’s nails are long and require immediate maintenance.

Scratchy Nails

When a dog’s nails are overgrown, you will get scratched every time they paw at you. Whether they are seeking attention or just trying to cuddle, they will leave a scratch on your body. Dogs don’t scratch their owners on purpose, but their overgrown nails can result in these unintended marks.

Tapping on Floor

Overhead view of a pug sitting on hardwood floors

You will hear the tapping sound in your dog’s walk if you have hardwood flooring. This is a sign of overgrown nails because normal nails stay above the pads and don’t touch or drag along the ground.

Uneven Stride

Dogs use their nails for traction and balance while walking or running. When the nails are overgrown, the toes are lifted and nails start touching the ground. When the paw can’t touch the floor completely, dogs lose the stability in their stride. They have to tiptoe instead of walking properly.

Curling Nails

White dog paw with overgrown nails that are curling under resting on a wood surface

Ideally, canine nails should not grow past the extent of their paws. This is because it prevents them from curling. If your dog’s nails are curling towards the paws or in any other direction, they must be trimmed as soon as possible. This is particularly essential for the dewclaw because it doesn’t get affected by wear and tear during walking.

Slipping and Sliding

If your dog keeps skidding or slipping on the floor, it is a sign of overgrown nails. For grip, dogs need fairly good contact between their paws and the floor. This is why pups with overgrown nails can easily lose their balance while walking or running.


Shaggy dog with front paw lifted up outdoors standing in grass

If you see your dog staggering or walking with difficulty, overgrown nails could be one of the reasons. Your dog might be having some pain and thus favoring one paw over the other.

Profuse Licking of Paws

Canines usually lick that part of the body where they feel irritation, pain, or itching. Therefore, if your pooch is licking the paws, again and again, overgrown nails can be the culprit.

Why Overgrown Dog Nails are a Problem?

2 tan dog paws with a pair of clippers on a green / blue painted wood surface

According to ASPCA, overgrown nails can be uncomfortable and painful for canines. They can cause multifarious problems for dogs and some of them are listed below.

  • They can get lodged into the soft tissue of the paw causing trouble during walking, standing, or running.
  • The instability and sliding while running can lead to other injuries, such as joint luxation or a hairline fracture.
  • Overgrown nails are prone to breakage. Splitting of nails can be particularly agonizing for dogs because they contain quick (a lump of blood vessels). If it gets damaged during an injury, it will result in extremely severe pain and even bleeding.
  • Long and curly nails can easily get caught into carpet, furniture, or plants. They can then rip off completely and may require surgery.
  • According to European School for Advanced Veterinary Studies (ESAVS), overgrown nails can distort the bone structure and the nail itself.
  • Overgrown nails can house infectious bacteria materials and will lead to many diseases. Moreover, the quick grows along with the nail so the chances of damaging the quick also increase in long nails.

How to Trim Overgrown Dog Nails?

Yellow lab laying on its side on grass with person trimming its nails

Here is a stepwise method for securely trimming the overgrown nails of your canine.

Make Your Pooch Comfortable

Never try to hustle things while trimming your canine’s nails. Eliminate the phobia of cutting equipment from your dog’s mind and ensure that he/she isn’t agitated with the trimming process. You can also try to create a positive affiliation between your pooch and the tool you will use. The best way is to reward them with treats for not overreacting after seeing the trimming equipment.

This method can take some days so you need to show patience. If you are thinking of using a Dremel for grinding your canine’s nails, first make him/her used to its noise.

Find a Suitable Nail Trimming Position

Dog paw in a human hand having its nails clipped on a wooden surface

Get your canine in a cozy nail-cutting position. It is a good approach to trim the nails while your dog is already snugging on his/her mat or couch. You can also seek the assistance of a family member to keep your pup distracted while trimming overgrown nails.

Make sure that you have a clear view of your dog’s nails before you cut them. Try to keep your dog’s leg closer to his body while cutting the nails. This will prevent him/her from pulling it back while the nails are being trimmed.

Mark the Vicinity of the Quick

It is the most important step in the entire nail trimming process. This is because if the quick gets cut, it will cause plenty of pain to your canine and may even start bleeding. It is easier to discover the quick in lighter canine nails. In lighter nails, quick appears as a pinkish dot in the core of the nail.

Comparatively, it’s far tough to locate the quick in darker nails. Therefore, it’s advisable to trim the nail in small bits if your pup has dark nails. Similarly, grinders (instead of clippers) are recommended for darker nails. When you see a grayish-purple oval on the surface of the trimmed nail, stop the cutting process.

Trim the Nails Confidently

Smiling chihuahua having hails trimmed

Once you’re prepared to trim the nails, progress in a secure and brisk manner. If you take too long to cut your pooch’s nails, he/she might get nervy and attempt to escape. If you suspect that you’re not prepared for doing it yourself, then don’t take any risks and seek the assistance of a groomer.

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