It's Fit Dog Friday!
Today I'm touching on something important for your dog's overall health that's often looked over: nail care! Nail length has a huge effect on your dog's structure, as well as their comfort. Overly long nails can cause splayed or flat feet, and throw off the dog's front and rear assembly, in addition to putting stress on the spine (an important thing to remember for my fellow dwarf breed owners). Not to mention that if your dog still has her dew claws, keeping them short greatly reduces the risk of injury. Keeping the nails short is one of the most vital parts of grooming.
Nola is my first dog, and once we moved where she wasn't walking on concrete every day, her nails grew like crazy. By that time though, she was terrified of the clippers and I couldn't cut them without seriously stressing her out. With weeks and weeks of counter conditioning and desensitizing, in addition to switching to a dremel, I could grind them down without her becoming freaking out. It's not her favorite thing, but she is comfortable and accepting rather than panicked and frantic.
The changes to her paws and even the way she stood was shocking to see, and definitely made me feel bad for letting them grow that long. However, I've been good about staying on top of nail care (Dremeling twice a week for Nola, and every week or two for Pike and Olivia. Their nails grow much more slowly than hers for some reason), and it she's much happier for it. ;)
For most dogs, the nails shouldn't touch the floor when the dog is standing. Some people say the nails shouldn't click on hardwood floor, but sometimes the dog's foot structure just...makes them walk clicky, even if the nails are short.
There's a recent fad of getting nails so short they're almost non-exisistant, and I'm personally not a fan. Dogs do use and need their nails, especially ones with a more active style. Not touching the floor is a good rule of thumb, and then you customize to the individual. Nola runs/walks/jogs with me every day, and climbs and hikes in the cooler months. As such, her nails are longer for gripe and traction. Pike's less active, and his nails stay quite short on their own.
Here are a few photos that really show the difference between long and short
|Standing, long nails. See the extreme easty-westy feet (paws pointing in opposite direction), the long, flat toes and the slightly down pasterns (wrists).|
Note: dwarf breeds tend to be easty-westy by design, but long nails exaggerate the issue.
|Standing, short nails. Her feet are still easty-westy (dachshund trait), but it's much more mild. Toes are well arched, and her pasterns are more upright with just enough give to absorb shock.|
|Sitting, long nails. Same issues as the first.|
|Sitting, short nails!|
|Long nails, with splayed and loose toes.|
|Short, with tighter, well arched toes.|
|A nail day collage!|
And some obligatory fitness photos!
|Slowly working on "march!".|
|Sit pretty is her favorite trick now.|
|She'll offer it to me for everything!|
- Dachshund Mommy