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My Pet World: What to do when the 'quick' is at the end of the nail

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have a 55-pound male mixed German Shepherd/Border Collie. The dog gets groomed every four weeks. He doesn't get his nails trimmed. For some reason, the quick is very close to the end of his nails, especially on his front paws. If we walk him on a long walk, about a mile, his quick will bleed. We walk him on the sidewalk next to grass so he can do his business. If we shorten the walk, there is no issue. I have shown this to my vet. The only resolution we can come up with is for him to wear dog socks to protect his feet. Any suggestions?

— Ben, Cooper City, Florida

Dear Ben,

Dogs and cats need regular nail trims to keep the quick from growing out. When they don't receive frequent nail trims, their quicks grow to the end of the nail, making it difficult to cut their nails without causing pain and bleeding.

There are only two solutions at this point. One is for your vet to anesthetize your dog and cut his nails, so the quick is cut back to a good starting point again. Then maintain regular nail trims with every four-week grooming session.


The other option is to gently clip/file his nails every few weeks so the quick can recede on its own. It helps if you can file or Dremel the shiny surface part of the nail, but not every dog will tolerate that process. If your dog does, though, that's great because the filing or Dremel action will cause the nail to dry out more quickly, causing the quick to recede faster. Faster is a relative term in this case since this process can take many months before you see results.

Since you take your dog to a groomer, I would ask them to begin removing little amounts of the nail each time. They won't be able to clip the nails, but maybe they can file 1/16 of an inch off to begin the pushback process. If after a few months you don’t see much progress, then anesthetizing your dog may be your only option.

In the meantime, there are nail tips you can buy, which are typically used when dogs are scratching themselves or other things in the home. But you can try them to see if it helps your dog when he is walking. Keep walking him on the sidewalk, as that helps file his nails, and take him for shorter walks until you see some progress with the quick. If you have floors only throughout the home, put place small carpets in areas where he likes to lay, so his paws have something to grip when he gets up off the floor.

Dear Cathy,


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