I am not one to paint my dogs nails; this photo was done as a special assignment for a magazine request.  It is my little Jessie girl who was beyond patient for this shot.  

Rain again this morning, we are going to have a very green spring here in Southern California.  We are in for some cold rainy weather in the next few days so you know what that means?  I'll be out in it with Luke and Elsa.  Seeing that we were to have more rain I focused on feet a couple of days ago.  Many dog owners never have to think about shaving feet; if you have a smooth coated dog they don't normally need trimming.  But even our little Jessie needed a trimming between the bottom of her pads once in a while.  Not often but if it were going to be especially wet I'd trim them to help them dry faster.

I shave my guys feet regularly.  It is purely for cleanliness and care.  They easily pick up stickers when their feet are very furry which can be very painful.  Feet are much easier to keep clean and dry when they are shaved nice and short.  With my breed I have to shave between the toes on the bottom of their feet as well as the top.  All dogs are different so some have huge furry slippers under there and some don't get much growth at the bottom.  Having done it for years and years now it takes me just a few minutes to shave their feet.

This also gives me a good chance to check on the health of their feet.  Yes, you should be looking between toes; above and below the pads.  How do the nail beds look?  While you are down there looking around, check out their dew claw if they have one.  Both of my terriers had a remnant piece left from having their dew claw removed improperly.  I had to take great care that these little straggler pieces were kept short as they tended to grow at odd angles.  Jessie's was a very tiny piece that grew straight out towards her other leg.  Mandy's grew up and around like a curly sheep horn.  Check on their nail condition and length as well.

Our dogs feet are put through a lot.  We subject them to all sorts of surfaces and rarely think about them until there is a clear an obvious problem, limping.  Feet need care like anything else and they should be checked on weekly.  Dog nails need to be trimmed or ground down to keep them at a nice length if a dog is not wearing them down on their own.  Elsa rarely needs her rear nails done as she has such force behind her running with that rear of hers.  She wears them down quite nicely with all of her power take offs.  But she does need her front feet done weekly.  I use to only use clippers but now I prefer my dremel tool for the job.

Strictly leaving feet up to the groomer is never a good idea.  Sure they can touch them up but they typically need more attention than every 5-6 weeks.  The longer you leave trimming the more that needs doing.  If you let them get too long it can take quite some time to get them to a good length again.  Leaving nails to get over grown can cause a great deal of discomfort for your dog.  It gets hard to walk when their nails are too long causing each step to be painful.  Have a look at your dog's nails; they should not touch the ground when they are standing still.  If they are then you need to take a bit off so that your dog can walk in comfort.

Many dogs do not get out for daily walks.  Some never walk on pavement and only get grass walks so that their nails never have a chance to wear down.  So we need to attend to them.  As dogs age their nails typically become harder making it a longer process if you are using a dremel.  If you are using clippers, make sure that they are sharp or they can damage the nail.  Dull trimmers can also cause pain by creating a crushing sensation instead of just quickly trimming off the nail.  Luke has extremely hard nails so a bit off every couple of days works great for him.  But Elsa's nails are still soft and done in a flash.

Today might just be a good mani/pedi day right?


  1. What a timely post. My boy is having problems with his nails recently. I just had him at the vet on Monday for another split nail. She said his nails all look healthy, even the ones that split. But I was wondering if there was anything I could do to help his nails stay strong and not break. Any suggestions? Also, any suggestions on nail clippers? Think I need new pair.


  2. Hi Sherri,
    Love your blog, dogs and photos!
    I thought this would be an appropriate entry to comment on another foot related issue- toe cancer. I have 2 black standards, and apparently this issue is most common in large black-coated breeds - black standards, Labs, Bouviers etc. . It is definitely genetic, so if people have such a dog and he/she starts limping (and the toe/foot is hot) if a round of antibiotics doesn't help, go straight to X-ray. We were fortunate to get our guy's toe removed (to no ill effect) but some folks we know lost their Lab at 8 yrs old because they (and their vet) weren't aware of this and after 3 (!) rounds of antibiotics didn't help, the surgery was too late to stop the spreading (to the lungs). My dog's sire also died at 9 yrs from a similiar story. It's actually Squamous Cell Carcinoma (same as we get), and is usually quite treatable if caught early. We now get our guy's feet X-rayed every year as a precaution. It actually just cost me $450 today to get it done, tho that's small town Canada and kind of on the expensive side. But we do what we gotta do!
    Anyways, I just wanted to let as many people as possible know about this and this seems like as good a time and place as any. Google poodle toe cancer for more info.
    Cheers, and thanks for the great site.

  3. Yes Lisa it is a sad thing that as you said many vets do not know about. I was planning on blogging about it in a few weeks. So glad that your guy is okay and that you are being proactive with the xrays.



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