By Kathy Salzberg, NCMG | Posted: February 29, 2012, 9 a.m. EST
Q. I have a Miniature Dachshund. I cut her nails myself. They have been somewhat neglected, but not terribly neglected. They are not so long as to cause her discomfort, but to the eye I can tell they are too long and they click when she walks on the hard floor. As this is the case I can only cut the tips each time I cut her nails so that I don’t make them bleed. I have heard that the quick of the nails will draw up each time you cut them. Is this true? If it is true, how long does it take for the quick to draw up? How often should I cut the nails in order to get them as short as they properly need to be for her comfort?
A. If your little Dachshund’s nails make it sound like she’s wearing tap shoes when she walks across your hardwood floor, they are probably too long. You are heading in the right direction by cutting off those tips often but unfortunately you are also correct in your assumption that just “tipping” them will not retract the quick—that vein inside each nail that bleeds when you nick it. If the nails are only tipped, the quick will continue to grow, eventually making it impossible to obtain the shortest desirable length for your dog’s comfort and foot health.
Although nails that are too long can spoil the look of a dog’s neat tight feet, nail trimming is not just done for cosmetic reasons. Overgrown nails can interfere with your dog’s ability to walk and run, impeding her ability to get the exercise she needs to stay healthy and prevent unwanted weight gain that often results from life as a couch potato. For a Dachshund, preventing obesity is particularly important. Because of this breed’s distinctive long back and short legs, it is particularly susceptible to disk problems and carrying extra poundage increases that likelihood. In fact, teaching these little wiener dogs to stand up on their hind legs or allowing them to jump off furniture should be strongly discouraged because these activities can aggravate their elongated spinal columns, leading to debilitating back pain and even paralysis. Overgrown toenails can also deform a dog’s feet by permanently splaying out the toes and can cause major discomfort by breaking or becoming ingrown, painfully digging into the footpads.