If I had to pick the #1 unintentional area of neglect with most doggy owners, I would pick the feet – nail trimming/clipping in particular.
We groomers see and deal with all kinds of downright fwunka (for lack of a better term); lucky for y’all, I’m one of those strange people that find gross things kind of interesting. I’ll have owners approach me with the walk of shame; heads hanging as they guiltily hand over the mats, the fleas and the brown ears. I know because I used to be one of those owners, and I would feel all kinds of bad dropping off Angus and Molly with a little mat under the armpit or something. Seriously y’all, that is 1)not really a biggie (unless their coat is just one big knitted knotty mat) and 2)kind of our job to make it better.
The bigger issue is the nails. Depending on your dog, you can go a pretty long time in between grooms…some dogs don’t ever need to visit a groomer. However, fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and nails gotta be clipped. The only exception to this is a highly active dog who is getting his nails naturally worn down on outside surfaces. Most pooches do not get that level of “natural filing” and therefore benefit from regular clipping. Here’s the why:
Inside the nail lives a quick which is basically a blood vessel: check it out! If your dog’s nails are white/clear, the little pink line inside is the quick. This quick grows inside the nail. In a perfect world, the nail gets regularly clipped, the quick receeds back, the nail happily rests clearing the surface of the ground, and the healthy footed dog uses his little leathery pads to sense his walking surface. In a more common scenario, the nails grow to the point that they are on the ground vs the pads which leads to the quick growing longer. This means when you cut the nails, you have to cut that quick in order to get the nail back to a healthy place resulting in a less than pleasant experience for the dog. If not, overly long nails can lead to ingrown nails, splayed pads and sore paws. I’m thinking I would not like to carry all my weight on my toe nails, how about you?
The jury is out as to whether nail clipping or cutting the quick hurts a dog or not. Angus and Molly are two shih tzus about 2 lbs apart: Angus couldn’t care less and practically holds out his paws for me. With Molly you would think I was subjecting her to cruel and unusual torture as she will fidget, fuss, cry and hyperventilate to try to get out of this 1 minute ordeal. I have seen all shapes, sizes, breeds and personalities, and I can never predict what the response to clipping is going to be. From a practical point of view, I think clipping probably doesn’t hurt – it’s just a pinching thing that some dogs fuss about. Quicking probably does cause some discomfort; much like when you bite or break a nail below the natural bed line.
So what’s “regular clipping”? Well, that depends if your dog gets any natural grinding or not. As a general rule, I would say every indoor dog would benefit from a nail clipping or sanding every 8 – 12 weeks. I vary between a traditional nail clipper and a sander…some dogs prefer the sander as there is no pinching. However a sander takes longer and I tend to use the clipper with fidgety dogs who don’t like their paws touched at all; may as well get it over with faster for me and for the dog! Senior dogs and Terrier breeds tend to have longer quicks so their nails will naturally be a little longer.
Nail trimming is part of all my grooms whether it’s a bath or a full styling. And if money is tight and you can’t afford a groom, at least get those nails clipped if they need it. Groomers tend to offer nail clipping cheaper than a vet’s office visit!