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Nail Maintenance:

Most people know that the weight of a dog's body is carried by the paw pads. But most people don't realize what happens if the paw pad is not the first thing to land on the ground during a step. If a nail makes contact with the ground first, the tendons on the top of the paw have to stretch to allow the paw pad to carry the weight of the body. This hurts and limits their range of motion, leading to a host of mobility challenges. As our dogs age and arthritis becomes a part of their life this is particularly painful. The paw can also become deformed, elongated or twisted by long periods of time with untrimmed nails. 

It is easy to prevent, and here is how! 

Regularly trimming your pet's nails or having them trimmed by a professional every 3 to 4 weeks is key. The amount of nail that may be trimmed safely is determined by the location of the quick (vein) inside the nail. 

If the nail grows long, the quick will grow long to feed it, it will recede as the nerve that runs along the quick senses contact with the ground close to the edge of the nail. So after a nail trim, the nerve and vein will begin to recede. In this way we can follow the nerve back and shorten the nail without causing injury or pain. 

If the nails have not begun to grow long, regularly trimming them will prevent it from happening all together. Sometimes, simply running a nail file along the nail is all that's required, such as with many high energy, outdoorsy type dogs. Ideally, your dog's nails would never touch the ground during a stride unless the pooch in question was gripping the ground for traction. If you hear tick tick tick tick as your dog walks behind you, they need a nail trim! If you live in a carpeted house, make a point to take them outside on cement and listen. Our dogs can't say, "My toes hurt!" And many don't let it slow them down, that it doesn't mean they don't feel it every step of the way. Your best furry friend will feel much healthier, happier and super grateful to you for keeping their nails maintained. Yes, even the ones that put up a fuss about having their feet touched will be happier dogs for having it done!

For consultation, instruction or supply please feel free to reach out to me at Give a Dog a Bath 413-663-4819 or

Kendra Baker is the owner and operator of Give a Dog a Bath, Fear Free dog Salon and Spa. With a focus on skin restoration and skin and coat health, certified in canine skin science, among many others. For more information on her and her career please visit

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