How to Make a Dog's Nail Quick Recede

Don't cut beyond this line, that's where the dog's' nail quick is!
Don't cut beyond this line, that's where the dog's' nail quick is! | Source

Identifying a Dog's Quick

What time is it when you hear Rover's nails clicking on the kitchen floor as he walks? It's definitively time for a nail trim! As much as this sounds like a riddle, in real life, long nails can lead to a multitude of problems. For starters, when you allow those nails to grow long for too much, the nails become frail, and easy to fracture, and since long nails allow the quick to grow along with the nail, it can lead to pain, bleeding and a possible infection. On top of that, long nails may also cause your dog to walk in an irregular way which in the long run may lead to skeletal problems. If your dog's nails have grown too long, don't try to cut them short all at once. Instead, ask your vet or groomer for help. Chances are, the nails will need to be cut a little bit at a time so to allow the quick to recede.

What's the quick exactly? A dog's nails are composed by the nail and a soft cuticle rich in blood vessels and nerves known as the quick. If you own a dog with light-colored nails, it will be quite easy to identify the quick as it's a pinkish area in the center of the nail. In dark-colored nails identifying the quick can be tricky and trimming them can be a bit of a challenge. See the picture above to identify the quick.

When you fail to trim your dog's nails as frequently as needed, the quick grows along with the nail. In some cases, when the nails are extra-long, the quick may lengthen so much that it reaches the tip. When this happens, you won't be able to trim much nail without risking cutting through the quick. Don't try to trim those nails short all at once! Ask your veterinarian or groomer to show you how to gradually trim the nail and encourage the quick to recede so Scruffy can start to walk comfortably again.

Ouch! An example of a bleeding quick

Broken toenails can be very painful and lead to infection.
Broken toenails can be very painful and lead to infection. | Source

What if You Accidentally Cut the Quick?

In your effort to help the quick recede, you may accidentally cut through the quick. This will cause pain and bleeding. In such a case, don't panic. You didn't cut through a major artery and your dog won't bleed to death, unless he has an underlying bleeding disorder you are not aware of. In such a scenario, follow the directions outlined in my hub: Tips for a Dog Broken Nail

How to Make Your Dog's Nail Quick Recede

If your dog's nails are very long and the quick is very close to the tip of the nail, you may have no other choice than simply trimming the very tip of the nail to avoid bleeding and pain. Ask your vet or groomer to show you how much you can cut for the very first times. After trimming that little bit of nail, generally, within seven days, the quick should have receded enough to allow you to trim off another little bit of nail again according to the book "The Everything Puppy Book: Choosing, Raising, and Training Our Littlest Best." Consider that each time you trim that nail a little bit more every week, the quick should gradually recede farther and farther up into the nail bed. Your ultimate goal in this case is to have the quick recede more and more so you can allow your dog the luxury to finally have healthier, shorter and stronger nails. The secret to this is to, therefore, give frequent, gradual nail trims.

Another helpful way to allow the quick to recede naturally is to allow your dog to walk on hard, abrasive surfaces. The constant pressure on the ground allows the quick to recede towards the nail. If you think about it, how did dogs in the wild live without seeing the groomer to get those infamous nail trims? The secret was constant walking and running on hard surfaces. Add on top of that digging too. Consider though that if you're planning to make the quick recede and your dog is not used to walking, running and exercising on concrete, he may develop blisters and abrasions on his paws according to St. Bernard's Animal Medical Center. Also, if his nails are too long they may split and fracture. Gradual exposure goes a long way. With time, your dog's paw pads should toughen up and the nails should grow stronger and stay shorter.

What's the perfect length of your dog's nails? Ideally, the nails should be short enough so to not touch the ground when the dog is standing on a firm, level surface, but should be long enough to aid the dog when climbing up a hill or digging, according to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation.

If you're wondering how long it takes for the nail to recede, the answer is it depends. Just as humans, a dog's nails may vary from one dog and another. Some dogs have nails that grow faster, thicker and longer than others. It also depends on your dog's activity levels, age, location and breed. For instance, the more active the dog, the likelier to have shorter nails. Also, if your dog lives indoors and walks on carpets or outdoors on soft, grassy areas for most of the day, the higher the chances for long, brittle nails and long quicks.

If you don't feel to comfortable in trimming your dog's nails and want to have those quicks to recede fast, you can ask your vet for help. Some vets are willing to sedate or anesthetize your dog for the purpose of trimming those nails way back. This means, the vet will expose the quick and cauterize the quick to reduce bleeding. Ideally, this should be done when your dog is gong under for some other medical procedure such as a dental cleaning. Because the nails are cut way back, expect your dog to have some pain after the procedure.


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Comments 8 comments

Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 3 years ago

Great article! My dog's nails grow way to quickly :-). It's unfortunate he won't let me trim it, so I have to make frequent trips to the groomer. I know it's my fault, because I didn't make him comfortable at early age with the nail trimming, but I never had a dog before, and simply didn't know. He behaves pretty good at the groomer though!

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for stopping by Monis Mas. Many dogs don't like to have their feet handled. It's good he's a good boy at the groomer. My dogs used to have long nails when we lived in Missouri. They were walking on grass and carpet all the time. Now that we're in Arizona and we have tile floors and they run outside on concrete and other hard surfaces, their nails are getting very short and their quick receded. It looks like I don't need to trim nail as often as before as they're naturally filed by the abrasive surfaces they run on!

lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 3 years ago from Central Virginia

What a great article and an important one. As the owner of a small dog with nails that grow like grass, I can certainly echo the importance of frequent nail clipping. When I hear Luna tapping across the kitchen floor, it's time to see the groomer. Great job on this one.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Lrc7815, long nails is often an overlooked problem that can have devastating effects. Helping the quick recede is important to keep the nails in top shape.

MAXWELL 13 months ago

A great article to read, got right to the point and answered my question with helpful advice, thanks!

alexadry profile image

alexadry 13 months ago from USA Author

Happy to hear this article on how to make a dog's nail recede was helpful to you. Kind regards!

Karyn 3 months ago

My dog is 6 years old and never had a nail trim, she has black huuuuge nails now :( I cut them a little bit being careful with the quick but they're still large and I wanted to know when can I cut a little bit more so the quick could get shorter, this is the only place I got an answer so Thank You!

I cut like 4mm today (2mm every time), so next week I'll cut a little more (this is going to take ages). One tip is to look at the nail where the cut is, if it is white you can cut 2mm; and if you see a black little circle in the middle you stop because next is the quick (it worked for me and my little huge nails).

alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 months ago from USA Author

Karyn, I am glad this article on dog nail quick helped you. good luck on your dog's nails!

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    Adrienne Janet Farricelli (alexadry)1,687 Followers
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    Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

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