Nail Trims Equal More Than Cosmetic Improvements
Important Information on Changing Your Dog's Posture and Movement
The Nails Determine How Your Dog Reacts to Gravity
Posture is the interaction of your dog's body with gravity. How your dog interacts with gravity is very important in maintaining optimal health and activity levels. How your dog stands is determined by the brain and central nervous system. Input about the earth from the muscles and joints of the body is sent to the brain, which interprets it and sends instructions to the muscles instructing them on which way and how fast to move.
A proper stance is one that allows minimal energy expenditure to keep the body in a stationary upright position. In most dogs the front legs will be situated so that they are prependicular to the ground and the body. This allows the stabilizing muscles to hold the dog up. These muscles have short muscles fibers, use a local energy source and have lots of connective tissue. This stance provides for the most efficient interaction possible.
When your canine companion has toe nails that touch the ground as they stand or walk they afre getting input which may be causing them some considerable problems. A dog's toe nails should only touch the ground when they are digging a hole or walking up a hill. When the brain receives this data it responds by telling the body to lean forward. This allows the body to utilize gravity to help maintain a stable stance just like Dr. O is leaning as he rides the moving mat up the slope. Remove the slope and your dog and Dr. O must bring their butt up under them or fall on their noses.
This stance causes the body to use mobilizing muscles to stabilize. These muscles have long muscle fibers, use an energy source that must be transported into the muscle and have almost no connective tissue. When this stancei s taken for any length of time there will be a lactic acid buildup in the muscles. It is a very inefficient interaction with gravity and causes the muscles to become fatigued. Fatigue is the primary cause of sports injury in any species.
Not only is standing like this tiring, it also has some health indications.
First it causes your dog to have a humped back. This causes the abdominal muscles to work abnormally and can lead to altered digestion and respiration. The hump in the back restricts the movement at the back of your pet's head making it difficult to eat, drink, and interact with other family members in an appropriate fashion.
When the back legs are brought up underneath the body of the dog it changes the angle at which the stifle (equivalent to the human knee) works. This change in angle decreases the inherent stability of the joint making it more susceptible to damage. The most common injury we usually see as a result of this is a rupture or tear of the cranial cruciate ligament.
In the front of your dog this stance places an abnormal strain on the shoulders and lower cervical spine. The stresses placed on the lower neck can cause problems similar to whiplash type injuries in people.
All of these problems will be reduced by keeping your dog's nails trimmed properly.
Dr. Amy Hayek, DVM, CVA, CVC
Dr. Wm. Ormston, DVM, CVC, DVetHom
1328 Missouri Street
Celina, Tx 75009
Proper Nail Trimming
A proper nail trim begins with a basic understanding of the anatomy of the nail.
The spine of the nail is on the top of the nail, is the strongest part of the nail, and is where the growth begins. The best nail trim will cut as much of the spine away as possible. This will allow the weaker parts of the nail to wear away and shorten before the spine grows back out.
The quick or vascular part of the nail is located in the middle to bottom part of the nail. This is the part that bleeds when clipped but can be shortened by clipping the spine and allowing the quick to wear back.
The nerve is located along the bottom curvature of the nail and is painful when clipped, however it is not painful as it naturally shortens after the nail's spine is clipped.
The properly trimmed nail will have more taken off the top and sides with the bottom being left to be worn down as your canine companion moves around. The nail will only touch the ground when your dog is walking up a hill. This will allow your dog to stand in an energy efficient manner with the most appropriate angles in the joints of the upper portion of the leg. This stance will allow proper input from your pet's feet to enter their brain, ensuring appropriate responce to the enviroment in which your dog plays and lives.
Keeping your dog's nails trimmed properly is not only one of the most important grooming items, it is also a very important health step.