Trimming nails is an important part of the grooming process to keep your pet comfortable and healthy. Nails that are allowed to grow too long can become ingrown, especially the dewclaws located on the inside of the leg since they don’t get worn down. The claws of older cats that don’t have the outer sheath removed by normal sharpening behavior are also at increased risk of becoming ingrown and painful. A few cats are born with extra toes, termed polydactyly, and those claws are also at greater risk to become ingrown. In addition, excessively long claws are at increased risk of breaking, which in turn can lead to infections of the toe. Finally, long claws can lead to deformities of the feet as the claw causes the toe to turn and not align normally.
As a general rule the nails should be trimmed if you can hear the feet click on the floor when they walk, or about every 2-3 months for indoor dogs that don’t spend much time on pavement. Plan on checking your pet’s nails monthly to see if foot care is needed.
All puppies should be trained as early as possible to accept handling of the feet and restraint for nail trimming. Giving treats for calm, relaxed behavior while the feet are being handled will make for pets that will better accept nail trimming in the future.
This article is contributed by Dr. Brian Hunter of Hunter Veterinary Clinic. You can contact Dr. Hunter at 509-327-9354.