Previous: 3 New Animals!
Next: Thriving vs Surviving



View count:18,696
Last sync:2023-01-29 09:15
Jessi describes how dog nails grow and why it's so important to trim some animal's nails regularly. Pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, parrots and other birds all need help managing their nails.

Our Video Sponsors:

Richard Campbell
Lucy McGlasson
John Brimley
Paul Ferrari
Riley Oosting
Kerstin Soderquist
Ilari Lamberg
Megan Wetzel
Adrian Cortez

Thank you so much for helping make these videos possible!

If you'd like your name here or featured at the end of an episode, you can become a sponsor at
Looking for more awesome animal stuff?
Subscribe to Animal Wonders Montana to see all of our videos!

Other places to find us:
Amazon Wishlist:
Many of the animals that are kept as pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, parrots, and lizards have nails that not only protect their toes but also help them dig or climb.  In the wild, animals would use their nails all the time and that constant use would wear them down.  Their nails, just like our nails, grow continually.  For animals living in captivity, not in the wild, their nails aren't always used as often as they need to be to keep them worn down.  Just like we have to manage the growth of our nails by trimming them, animals in captivity also need their nails taken care of.

It can sometimes be challenging to trim our pets' nails and it might be tempting to just not do it or do it as little as possible, but that's really the opposite of what you should be doing and here's why.  Nails grow from a nailbed, which is where the nail attaches to the skin of the animal's toe.  Nailbeds are supplied with blood in order to grow the nail and inside the dog/cat/parrot's nail is something called a quick.  The quick is attached to the nailbed and is at the center of the base of the nail.  It's sensitive and it's really important to pay attention to.

When the animal is a baby, the quick of the nail extends close to the tip of the nail because the nail is new and hasn't been used very much.  When a nail gets used regularly from running and climbing, the nail is worn down and the quick recedes back toward the nailbed.  If the nails aren't being used as often, like in many captive or sedentary animals, the quick will extend further toward the tip.  So if your dog isn't outside digging and running around a lot, their nails aren't going to get worn down as much as they're designed to.

The nails will continue to grow, getting longer and longer and eventually, they will become uncomfortable for your dog to walk on.  You can see when the nails get too long because when they're standing still, instead of resting on their pads, the long nails will touch the ground first and push their toes up off the floor.  The same is true for parrots and guinea pigs, among others.  The nails can even start to curl under their toes an grow into the pads of the feet, which is extremely painful.

Now, if the nails have not been kept short by regular use or trimming, when you go to clip those long nails, they'll be sensitive and the trimming can be painful.  This is because the quick has grown down into the nail and when you cut into the nail, you can cut the quick, causing pain and bleeding.   Once a dog's nails have become too long, it takes many small corrections to train the quick to recede.  Over the time, the quick will get short enough that you can finally get the nail trimmed down to an appropriate length.

If you just go ahead and trim a long nail down to the right size and you do end up catching the quick, it can make your dog wary of the nail trimming process, and the next time you go to trim, they'll likely try and avoid the situation.  The best way to handle nail trimming with dogs, cats, rabbits, parrots, etc is to use positive reinforcement from the very beginning and teach them that it's not scary or painful to have their nails trimmed--it's actually quite nice.  

Even if you're starting with an older animal, giving them body massages, treats, and sweet soothing words during the process can go a long way in making the experience relaxed and even enjoyable.  So patience, planning, and prevention are the best ways to make sure your pet's nails and toes stay healthy and they stay happy.

Thanks for joining us on this adventure into why nail trimming is important.   If you'd like to help us continue making educational videos, you can become a Patron on Patreon, where your monthly donation will also be used to improve our animals' lives.  Check out the link in our endscreen.  Thanks, and we'll see you next week.