So What Are Dew Claws For?
A dew claw is comparable to a thumb on a human and classified as a vestigial digit, but it’s not a dead appendage
Canine’s use dew claws on a daily basis. The extra digit aids them with climbing, or grasping and holding items, such as a bone or toy. Having the extra digit could also cause injury to the dog when the claw snags on the carpet or becomes caught in an object, such as a toy.
The dewclaw does not touch the ground so it does not wear off like the other toenails and therefore must be trimmed more often. If this is not done there is a danger of the nail actually growing around in a complete circle and penetrating the skin near the origin. I have seen this on several occasions. But, of course, it is completely preventable if you just pay attention to your dog's feet and nails.
There is a danger of having a dewclaw ripped off -- which can happen in working dogs and dogs that play in rough areas like the mangroves. If it is injured, it can be painful and quite bloody.
Careful of the Quick
The quick is the blood vessels and nerves that supply the nail. Knowing where the quick is will help you to trim to just before that point. The general recommendation is to cut approx 2mm away from the quick. But if a dog has black or dark claws it can be difficult or impossible to see the quick and this will make nail trimming more difficult. You may prefer, in these cases, to try filing your dog's nails or to have your vet or dog groomer trim them for you.
If you cut the quick
Don't panic. If you accidentally cut the nail too short and it starts to bleed, hold some tissue tightly to the bleeding. Alternatively, use a styptic pencil, styptic powder or styptic pads to stop blood flow. Even without treatment, the bleeding should stop within about 5 minutes. If your dog licks the wound it will slow the healing and clotting process and bleed for a bit longer.
The longer the nail the longer the quick. If your dog's nails are long it is better to cut a little at a time because the quick will also be long. Cut a little bit from each claw and then wait a few days or a week for the quick to recede before cutting again. Once you have the claws at a sensible length then cut monthly or as required.
How Often Do I Need To Cut Them?
Keeping your dog's nails trimmed is important. Schedule it into your diary if you are likely to forget. Make a foot inspection part of your usual health routine with your dog. Apart from the pain of long nails, your dog could get infections, broken or ingrown nails and other painful conditions. So with just a little bit of effort and know how, you can keep your dogs feet in tip top condition.
How often a dog's nails need to be cut will depend on the breed and lifestyle, which can change with age.
Many dogs naturally wear their nails down by walking and play, especially if the walk involves hard surfaces. An inactive dog may not wear their nails down. Similarly an older dog will often favour grass and softer ground and will prefer not to walk on hard surfaces, so their nails will not naturally wear down as much either.
It is therefore important to keep your dog's claws well trimmed at the correct length. If they get too long it can put pain and pressure on the toes and paws, which will ultimately put strain on the legs. Long claws are also prone to splitting and infection.
Correct length for a dog's nails
If a dog's nails are too long, you will hear them clack when the dog walks on hard surfaces. Deciding if your dog’s nails are too long is quite simple. The claws should not protrude over the pad and should not touch the ground when standing.