Although squeamish about trimming dark nails, The Pet Safety Crusader™ thought she knew how to handle this important aspect of caring for our canine family members. Well, I was wrong! I mean, I knew the old fashioned way, that would sometimes make me nervous and feel a bit like I was smashing or crushing my pooch’s sharp appendages, but after taking Dr. Buzby’s DIY Dog Master Course: Nail Trimming Without Fear, I am so much more confident and so much more in the know.
I’ve always admired Dr. Julie (as I like to call her) for the awesome PAWSome ToeGrips® she developed to help our best pals from slipping. Any of you with an older dog know how, as the years go by, muscle’s atrophy and the paw pads lose traction, that your best bud slides and struggles getting up from smooth surfaces. Now, I am even more impressed with Dr. Julie and her high performance nail trim because it just makes so much doggone sense, and it’s something the majority of us don’t think that much about, but must!
First off, let’s talk a bit about canine nails. They are made of keratin just like human nails. When they get too long, they affect the toes, either pressing toes up or twisting them to the side. As Dr. Buzby explains, “Stand up and curl your toes under in your shoes. Notice how it affects your muscles and balance.” She refers to this as the “goat on a rock” syndrome. When your dog’s nails are too long, it feels like he is standing on an incline (even when he’s not), so he must bring his hind legs in, under him, to maintain his balance. This prevents him from keeping his body square to the ground like a table with legs causing his posture (the way he stands) to be out of whack as well as his gait (the way he moves).
This shows that long nails are more than a cosmetic problem or something that can scratch us or the dog himself! Especially since most modern day dogs spend their lives walking on plush lawns or carpets, they don’t create enough wear on their nails, so we must step in as good pet parents and make sure nails are trimmed for health and safety’s sake! Too long nails are not only detrimental to posture and gait but may actually cause your dog’s toes to twist or curl into the pad. Long nails are more prone to catching on carpet or other material, and then breaking or cracking causing pain and bleeding and the need for pet first aid if not veterinary care.
Dr. Buzby’s high performance nail trim (and I’ll tell you why it’s called that shortly), is different from what I’ll bet you or your groomer currently does. Instead of a horizontal, parallel to the ground cut, Dr. Buzby professes a series of conservative angled cuts, past 90 degrees, sculpting the nail from the top and actually removing more nail than the usually-accepted cut provides. What I like best about it is that there is less chance of hitting the quick (the blood and nerve supply situated in the lower part of the nail) than with the horizontal trim.
Her lessons, which take only a few hours to get through, watching videos and studying infographics and pdfs, clearly show you the objective landmark to watch for: the pre-quick! A dense “licorice-like” material in dark nails while pinkish in the lighter colored dog claws. For dogs whose nails are just too long, you must conservatively nip only a little away until you reach the pre-quick and stop! Then again, in 5-7 days, trim away. By continually exposing the pre-quick to vibrational stimulus, it will recede (move backwards) into your dog’s nail and allow you to trim the nails shorter without causing pain or bleeding.
The point is to set you and your pooch up for success by showing you the 4-1-1 you need to know to make this a pleasant procedure for you both. After all, just like humans, dogs don’t get their nails trimmed once! It’s life-long maintenance, and the reason this technique is referred to as the high performance nail trim is this…by safely taking away more nail, there is less nail for your dog to have to “break-over” with each stride. What this means is as he picks up is paw, rolling off the toes, there is less nail to break-over before he can lift the paw from the ground allowing him to make a longer, more comfortable stride. The concept is used in race horses, but applies to our canines as well.
In Dr. Buzby’s do-it-yourself nail trimming course, the various modules teach you about the nails along with the best tools for the job as well as a variety of positions so that you can find which is the most comfortable for your dog and for you. Many dogs may feel most at ease lying on their side (lateral recumbency), while longer legged fellas and ladies may enjoy standing and the smaller ones — cradled in arms. For those dogs who tend to pull or jerk their paw away, Dr. Buzby suggests holding their leg in flexion, bent close to their body, which eliminates their option of pulling the leg back and injuring their joint from the repeated jerking. Others do well with you just supporting their extended leg as you sculpt away at the nail.
The course contains modules on trimming black nails, light nails, large nails, small nails and even puppy nails. She even shares which set of paws are generally the easiest to do and which you should start with. Dr. Buzby demonstrates on a variety of dogs and her fun and easy-going instruction makes you feel confident that you can tackle a nail trim yourself.
Dr. Buzby’s tips to get started include:
- Take your dog for a walk or a little playtime. A tired dog will be more cooperative.
- Get prepared by gathering your supplies: clippers, styptic powder (just in case) and fun high value treats and/or toys to keep your best pal busy while you trim away.
- Find the perfect position for you and your pooch, and then…
- KEEP IT POSITIVE! Happy voice the whole time.
Not matter your pets age, it makes sense to keep him healthy and safe by keeping those nails trimmed! To learn more about Dr. Buzby’s Do-it-Yourself Dog Master Course: Nail Trimming Without Fear, click here: https://courses.drbuzby.com/ It comes with a set of nail clippers (the only ones recommended by Dr. Buzby to do the job right, styptic powder (just in case) and a quick reference guide. Your dog will be walking and standing pretty while you’re smiling about not only doing something good for your best friend, but also about the more than $2,100 you’ll save over your dog’s life by trimming his nails yourself!