Q: I just adopted a five-year-old Pug from a shelter. His nails are really long, so when I brought him for a health check, I wanted to get his nails trimmed. However, the vet said she couldn’t cut his nails because it’d bleed—apparently the “quick” grew out! What can I do to solve this problem, or will he be stuck with long nails for the rest of his life?
A: Our furkids’ nails have a vein (also known as the quick) with nerve endings that hurt and bleed when cut through. As a result, whenever we cut our pet’s nails, we try to trim near but not too close to its quick. When a dog’s nails are not trimmed or filed regularly, the quick will grow along with the nails, and in some cases, they may even lengthen so much that they reach the tip. In such instances, trimming the nails without risking cutting the quick becomes a challenge. The good news is that with proper and consistent care, it is possible to shorten the nails and even bring them to an optimal length.
Trim your pet’s nails regularly
Never trim the nails short all at once as it will lead to profuse bleeding, causing pain and even trauma to your pooch. The nails will need to be cut a little at a time, so as to allow the quick to recede. For a start, it is recommended to bring your pet to a professional groomer once every two weeks for trimmings.
Walking on rough ground
Some dogs’ walking gait allows the nails to be filed down shorter naturally. In addition to the fortnightly trims, regular walks on pavements would facilitate the receding of the quick. In cases where the nails are too long and cause your dog to walk in an irregular way, manual filing every other day should be considered. Manual filing can be done using a regular board file: Hold the file perpendicular to the nail and file in an upward motion (like how you would draw a tick). File about 1 to 2mm off or when you notice that the quick is near, which can be identified by a black dot at the cross section of the nail.
The rule of thumb for nail length is that when your pet is standing on even ground, the nails are not in contact with the surface. This allows your dog to walk comfortably and naturally without altering his gait.