Westie, Fox Terrier & Schnauzer Nail Care

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How to trim dog nails

A regular part of grooming should be clipping and care of the paw, something which at times we forget to do.

This little Cairn Terrier dog had her nails trimmed.

Considering all dog breeds, there can be many differences in their paws, feet and nails.  Some are very compact and some are webbed so that they can swim.  But all need clipping if they become too long.

I know exactly when my dog needs her nails trimmed.  She will not walk on the hardwood floors.  Her nails are hitting the floor and being pushed back into the foot causing pain.  And since her pads aren't in contact with the floor she will slip and slide and she hates that!

Some have very hairy paws and some are short hair and you have no difficulty in noticing when the nails are too long or there is an injury to the paw.


A dogs walks like a horse in the fact that he puts his weight on the toes.  People without toes cannot run very well.  Toes are there for agility and make the dog very stable.

Terrier feet have very strong feet, often with nails that grow very fast.  This is because Terriers were bred to catch vermin.  They often had to dig in and around rocks, which are a natural nail file.

If you wonder why your dog's nails are too long it's because they have not been ground down by every day hunting.

Trimming tools:

nailtrimmersThis type of nail clipper is the one to buy.  It is much easier on the dogs nails and does not hurt as much as the guillotine clippers.  Do not buy the clippers in red. wrongclippers They pull on the nail as it is being clipped and hurts the dog.

Each foot has four nails with dew claws on the inside of a dog's front foot.

These dew claws are usually removed by breeders when they know their dog is a good prospect for the show ring.  Otherwise for pups that are going to be sold for families, they are usually left on.

I was lucky.  I bought my dog at the pet shop and he had his dew claws removed.  I immediately wondered why?

I think he was headed for sale by the breeder, then because of an accident to his jaw, he was sent to be sold.

I was very lucky to have found him.

If you are going to trim dogs nails, look for the red line in the nail.  That is the blood vessel and the nerve.  If you cut this part of the dogs' nail it will hurt like having your nails ripped off.

Instead, cut just a tiny bit of nail off when first starting.  A little less is always better than having your dog in pain.

Dog paws, nails, foot, feet and care of these areas.

Daily grooming or a once over will alert you to potential problems with the paws and nail growth but also catch problems that have just started and you can easily take care of.

A few times I noticed that after my dog had jumped from the sofa he started limping and would not put any weight on the foot.  He held it up and was hoping around the house for 2 days.  Finally I took him to the vet and he wanted to take 6 or 7 X-rays of his foot.

I told him "let's take one, I'm not made of money and if that shows a problem we can take more".

After that one X-ray he took a look at the paw because the x-ray showed nothing.

We decided that what had happened was that my dog jammed a nail back into the foot when he jumped off the sofa and caused a bruise which was too painful to put any weight on that foot.

From then on the first thing I look for in a limping dog is the nails, the paw pads and for splinters.  Most of the time it's the length of the nails that was the reason.

I can't stress enough that you must go easy on your dogs feet.  Most dogs hate their feet to be touched and if some one cut into my nail (actually that happened to me) the pain is unbearable.

I was 12 years old and cutting paper at school.  My thumb was under the big knife when the arm dropped right onto my right hand thumb.

Once you cut into a nail it does not stop bleeding.  You cannot stitch it up and my father did not take me to the ER because he knew they would have taken the nail off.

I remember that night.  My Dad put a very tight bandage across the nail to stop it from bleeding.  My thumb throbbed with pain all night long.  I slept with my hand in the air because the minute I lay it down the pounding pain was unbearable.

Now of course a doctor would give me some pain pills.  But once you cut the quick of the nail of a dog, it bleeds a lot and besides applying styptic powder or silver nitrate on it, the blood has a very hard time clotting.

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Any information contained on this site relating to various medical, health, and fitness conditions of Westies and their treatment is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own veterinarian. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing dog allergies - you should always consult your own veterinarian.

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Paw Problems in Dogs

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