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Do Long Nails Hurt Dogs?

Dog paws and nail clippers on a blue/green wooden surface

Yes, long nails hurt dogs. Long nails can cause several problems for dogs. First of all, they can be uncomfortable when walking on hard surfaces. Secondly, they can get stuck in things and cause injury when a dog tries to pull itself free. Thirdly, long nails can make it harder for a dog to move around and could lead to lameness if the nail becomes overgrown.

Long nails may also affect the health of your dog’s mouth due to bacteria build-up, which could result in diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease. So, if you’re considering cutting your dog’s nails, do so with caution and make sure you are doing it properly. Cutting your dog’s nails too short or too close to the quick will result in bleeding, inflammation, or infection.

Long Dog Nails Can Cause Limping

If a dog’s nails are long, they can get caught on the sidewalk or other surfaces. As the nail bends back and forth, it can create pressure and cause pain in the foot. The equivalent for people would be if your toenails were so long that they got caught in your socks when you were walking. This can really hurt!

Long nails can also cause the dog to shift his weight to one side or another as he walks in an attempt to avoid discomfort. This can lead to a muscle imbalance, which ultimately causes a dog to limp.

Healthy Dog Nails Vs. Unhealthy

Close up of a tan dogs dark nails

It is important, first of all, to determine if your dog’s nails are healthy or unhealthy.

Healthy nails are smooth and have a small dark edge where they connect to the paw. The nail itself is slightly curved and white in color.

Unhealthy nails, on the other hand, are brittle, have ridges, grooves, and/or a dark center, and could be bent or broken. If the nails are unhealthy, it is best to take your dog to the vet for a nail trim. A vet will be able to examine the nail closely to determine if it should be trimmed or not. If the nail is unhealthy and you try to trim it at home, you could make the problem worse.

How To Cut Your Dog’s Nails Correctly?

Person cutting dog nails against a white background

As mentioned above, you should only cut your dog’s nails if it is unhealthy. If your dog’s nails are healthy, there is no need to cut them. When cutting your dog’s nails, make sure that you are cutting straight across the nail (not at an angle). Doing so will help prevent you from cutting the quick, or the area inside the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels.

If you cut the quick, the nail will bleed. If you cut the quick by accident, apply a little bit of styptic powder or corn-starch to stop the bleeding. If you get scared or nervous about cutting your dog’s nails, you can always ask a friend or family member for help. If you don’t have anyone to help you, you could also visit a groomer or veterinarian for assistance.

3 Steps to Trim Your Dog’s Nails Safely

Black and red nail clippers isolated on a white background

There are 3 easy steps to trim your dog’s nails safely.

Step 1: Make sure the area is safe and secure. To ensure your dog is safe and comfortable, you should do the nail trimming either in a veterinary office or in your bathroom.

Step 2: Make your dog comfortable. Put your dog in a sit, down, or stand position, depending on what is most comfortable for him. To make him feel more relaxed, you can also put a towel over his eyes or give him a treat to eat.

Step 3: Hold your dog’s paw. Once the area is secure and your dog is comfortable, gently hold his paw in one hand and use the other hand to cut his nails.

Some Final Words

White dog laying down with nails and paws facing the camera, isolated on a white background

As your dog grows, so do his nails. Over time, long nails can grow out of control, causing your dog to pull his foot when he walks. This can cause injury to your dog’s toes and foot.

The first step to preventing your dog from developing long nails is to trim his nails regularly. This process is also important for maintaining a healthy nail appearance and preventing potential complications related to a long nail. If your dog loves to play outdoors, you could also try taking your dog to a groomer to get a nail trim every month or two. A groomer will be able to do this more easily than you can.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.