Nail Trimming

Long toenails make for painful arthritic feet. Black nails are hard to trim safely. Here is the how-to.



I’ve recently acquired my deceased mother’s dog. I’m taking her to the vet soon to have her checked out and to get shots updated. My main question is her toenails are so long that they curve and lay to the side. Can I trim them back to the normal length without causing her any harm? I’m really concerned about her.


Dr. Nichol:

Caring for your mother’s dog is a genuine act of love. Your compassion for that little girl surely comes in part from the example set by your mom. She would be proud.


Taking this pup to the doctor is the way to start out on the right paw. A thorough physical exam may uncover a few more things that need routine maintenance. I recommend carefully following advice on dental care, skin problems, or managing any lumps or masses. This way your mom’s dog can be around a long time.


So, her nails. Those long curved nails laying on their sides are twisting the joints in her toes when she walks. Arthritis can result. Buy a Resco nail trimmer at the pet supply store. To make sure that you don’t trim them too short look carefully at their shape and color in good light; they will be either black or clear. You’re in luck if they’re clear like human nails because you can see the pink tissue inside that carries the blood supply. If you cut into the pink area you will cause her to bleed and feel pain. You want to trim off the clear part to a point about an eighth of an inch away from the pink area. So that she’s relaxed for her pedicure give her a rawhide or other snack and she’ll be yours forever. And as long as you’re giving her a pedicure, make her feel real special and give her a facial and massage too.


All of that works great IF her nails are clear. But what if they’re black? The internal anatomy of her nails is the same either way but until you have experience knowing where the blood supply is you could make the mistake of getting them too short. So for black nails I advise you to take a lesson from the staff at the veterinary clinic. Don’t try this at home; we’re professionals.