Why can’t my dog’s nails be trimmed as short as I would like?

Nail trims are a daily occurrence at Woodland Veterinary Hospital – we see dogs, cats, and even the occasional rabbit! One of the most frequent requests we hear with nail trims is “please trim them as short as possible.” This can be a delicate balancing act – we want to keep the pet comfortable, and make sure your wishes are fulfilled as well!

Pets’ nails grow constantly, and just like with people, some animals’ nails grow faster than others, or are worn down more quickly. Within the nail, there is a “quick” – a pink area containing the nail’s blood supply. Pets whose nails are very long usually have long quicks to match. If the quick is nicked, the result is somewhat similar to pulling a hangnail on a person – a sharp burst of pain that does not dissipate, and often there is bleeding as well. Many animals who have been “quicked” will cry out and flail, and they become naturally wary of nail trims. Woodland Veterinary Hospital’s Dr. Dennie also notes that “some dogs that have been trimmed too short in the past become so fearful and anxious about having their nails trimmed that it is better to have them sedated for it than doing it forcefully and making it even more traumatic.”

At Woodland Veterinary Hospital, we want to make sure your pet is happy and in the best shape possible when they head home, so when an animal with very long nails comes in, the final result may be longer than the owner would prefer. Rather than traumatize a pet and cause them deliberate pain, we want to make their “pawdicures” a pleasant experience. By trimming the nails more frequently (every 3-4 weeks instead of every few months), the quick will naturally start to recede inside the nail, and eventually we will be able to trim the nails shorter, closer to the ideal length for owners and pets alike!