Part of our assessment when meeting new dogs is to look at their nail length and the hair between their toe pads.  Why?  Because it makes a big impact on a dog’s posture and their ability to fire their muscles.

Imagine a woman in high heels.  Her body weight is tipped forward.  The same goes for a dog but in the opposite direction.  If their nails are too long their weight is shifted backwards and they aren’t able to use their muscles properly.  This can have a HUGE IMPACT on a senior dog who might already be experiencing weakness and more difficulty moving around.

The dog also gets a lot of balance information from being able to spread their toe pads out on the floor.  If they can’t do this, they can lose their balance.

What we hear often from owners when we bring it up is that they are nervous about cutting their dog’s nails for fear of cutting the quick.  The quick is the blood supply to the nail.  As the nail gets longer, the quick gets longer.  So if a dog has really long nails, they probably have a really long quick and not a lot can be trimmed off a nail at a time.  If you are uncertain about cutting your own dog’s nails, consider taking them to your vet where the nails can often be trimmer by donation to a charity of the month or hire someone to come into the home that is experienced to have the nails trimmed.  If the nails are very long, it might take trimming every few weeks to get the nail back to a good length.

A good rule of thumb is if you can hear nails “clacking” along the floor as your dog walks, they are probably too long.

The hair between the toe pads is easy for any dog owner to trim with a pair of sharp scissors.  Keeping this hair short keeps the dog’s toe pads in contact with the floor in order for the dog to have traction – the hair is slippery.

So the long and the short of it is…KEEP ‘EM SHORT!