Contrary to popular belief dog have claws and not nails! Claws have a blood and nerve supply and grow directly from the phalanx bones. Human nails are flat and sit on top of the ends of our fingers and toes as opposed to dog claws that come to a point and protrude from the ends of the toes… If a claw is cut too short it will bleed and cause pain to the dog.
Claws are required for a number of tasks which can include digging, gripping and in some breeds, climbing. All dogs, however, gain vital feedback from their claws. They help with the proprioception of their paws and gives them information about what type of surface they are on if stood at all! Claws also tell the dog how level they are. Like in the sport of dog agility a dog knows they have landed going by the information provided to them by their claws.
We can also gain useful information by checking their claws out on regular bases. We can check to make sure their claws are wearing down evenly. When you take your dog to your friendly vet for a checkup they will look at your dog’s nails as this can provide them with information about their general health, for example, if your dog’s nails were brittle this could indicate an issue and from there your vet will probably want to perform a number of tests to confirm or clear a diagnoses.
As mentioned above, claws grow directly from the phalanx bones and grow to a point. Inside is the quick which carries the blood supply. Nails that are not regularly worn down will have a long quick which then creates a problem when you want to trim the claws back. There is however a way to shorten both claws and quicks back without harming your dog. More on this later. Next week I will be rabbiting on about why it is so important to maintain short claws.