Dog’s Ingrown Toenail

A groomer’s carelessness can be dangerous for a dog.

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Q. I own a Yorkshire Terrier who weighs in at 2.3 pounds. She is 1 ½ years old. I have been taking her to the same groomer since I got her at six weeks of age. She goes to the groomer every other week —she has a better beauty regimen than I do!

The other day I decided to bathe her in between groomings and to my surprise, I noticed that one of her nails has not been cut in a long time and is growing into her paw. I questioned the groomer and her response was, “Oh, I must have forgotten to clip it.” I, however, do not believe that it is a result of forgetting to clip it one time. It seems to me that it has been forgotten for a long time.

How do I handle clipping that nail? I am scared to do it myself but now find myself not happy going back to that groomer.

A. Trimming the dog's nails is part of every grooming service unless the pet is extremely uncooperative and unmanageable, and I’m sure this is not the case with your little Yorkshire Terrier. I agree that because you have her groomed on such a frequent basis, it’s highly unlikely that her nail would have grown long enough to curl around and perforate her footpad if the groomer forgot to clip it on just one visit.

In our salon, clipping the nails is job No. 1 when a pet comes in for a grooming. I find it helps if the groomer follows a routine. I always start with the left rear paw for no other reason than it works for me to be a creature of habit. Using a #10 or a #30 blade with a light and careful touch, we also scoop out any hair growing between the pads, both for cleanliness and to make sure there is no debris stuck between the pads or toes that could irritate the pet’s foot. While doing this, we get the opportunity to observe the nails again and make sure we trimmed them all.

However, a Yorkie is a tiny dog, weighing only four to seven pounds and standing six to eight inches tall, so it’s not inconceivable that your groomer may have missed one of your pet’s nails. I think the rather offhand explanation you reported that she gave did leave a lot to be desired but that’s probably more about her communication skills than her grooming.

Groomers are human and they occasionally make mistakes and your pet has been going to this person since early puppyhood without any other problems. Would you consider talking this over with her once more to explain your understandable concerns about your little pet?

A perforated footpad is not a minor thing. The wound it causes can easily become infected and should be checked by the vet who may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent or treat any resulting infection. Your groomer may have been rushed or stressed the day this happened and she may now be now be having second thoughts about losing you as a customer. Most reputable groomers would offer to reimburse you for the vet visit or offer a credit towards future grooming services.

The nail in question that was not cut may have been a “dew claw,” located a short distance above the inside of one of her front feet (sometimes rear feet as well). Since dew claws are not exposed to friction from walking on hard surfaces, they often grow longer and can easily be missed if you don’t go looking for them, especially if the dog has a full or long coat.

Such neglected dew claws will often grow into a full circle, becoming ingrown. At that point, the way to cut them is to use a scissor-type nail trimmer and clip in the middle of the circular nail. Once you pull the nail portion out of the skin, you need to apply hydrogen peroxide or antibiotic cream and for safety’s sake, I would still recommend a trip to the vet.

Clip your dog's nails every four weeks or so. Elongated nails raise several health issues. In addition to becoming painfully ingrown, they can affect the comfort and health of dogs, making it difficult to place their full body weight on their feet without pain. As a result they may develop sore feet, legs and hips. In addition, their toes may become permanently splayed, ruining the foot’s neat, tight appearance but more importantly, making walking and running such a painful experience that it impacts their quality of life.

Learn How To Clip Your Dog's Nails

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Halaluani   Saco, Maine

2/13/2013 12:26:46 AM

Great article. I've read a couple of dozen of them on this topic; this one is far superior.

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