We see them every day, in sets of four usually, but sometimes 5 or even 6. Multiply that by 4 legs and it adds up to a lot of nails that we see, clip and address with clients each and every day.  But do we really understand all that we should about these incredible little appendages?

We should first realize the larger picture. Dogs walk on their toes like a horse, not on their pads or the “soles” of their feet like a human. So this puts weight dispersion and balance of the dog’s entire mass on a very small center of impact absorption (especially if they are also overweight). Meaning that if they feel pain in a toe or a nail, they will then have to rock back on their heels and extend the ligaments of their larger pad and the back of their ankles to try to ease the pain in their toes. This puts them at a tremendous risk of injuring their ankles, elbows, hocks, shoulder and hips, as well as their connective tissues such as ACLs. Everything in one’s musculoskeletal system is connected with every other part of the body. So, simple overgrown nails can be the root of not only much discomfort, but much financial expense in the long run.

Overgrown nails on a dog is one of the leading causes of obesity. If we really think about it, it is likely the leading cause.

Overgrown nails lead to discomfort of the bones and tendons and ligaments of the toes, then up to the larger bones and tissues of the foot, up the arms and legs and into the larger bones of the shoulders, hips and then on to the spine. Everything touches something else. And when one thing is out of line at the root of one’s center of mobility, it puts everything else in the body out of sync, and therefore in some level of discomfort. After time, this leads to genuine physical deterioration and then to eventual disability. So, looking at the total structure of the dog, and in thinking about how we feel when our feet hurt or are injured, it is easy to see that the comfort and care of the feet and toes are at the forefront of one’s most important necessities–both human and canine or feline.

More on “All About Nails” to come…

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