Abbott Road Animal Hospital
Abbott Road Animal Hospital

The Importance of Nail Trims

Why are toe nail trims important?

By: Luanna George, LVT, CCRP


Normal foot placement is heel to toe when reaching forward (protracted).

The weight shifts from decelerate phase (protracted) to an accelerated phase as the pet's center of mass is passing over the weight bearing limb.


When the toe nails are too long and touching the ground, a message is sent to the brain that triggers the pet's posture to think that it is walking up a hill or standing on a hill.


This compensation puts stresses on all of the joints and also puts extra load on the weight bearing surfaces of the hips, stifles and hocks as the muscles become trained that the long toe nail posture is the NEW and CORRECT way to be engaged.


The consequences of long toe nails:

  • The pet's center of mass to be distributed to the hind end
  • Difficulty rising to a standing position
  • Difficulty initiating a gais (walk, trot)
  • Lack of ability to drive (not a car!)
  • Altered spinal contour, can develop kyphosis (hunchback)
  • Compensatory hypermobility
  • Hypersensitivity to feet from having constant stimulation from toes toucing the ground
  • Structural damage is caused to the feet which results in diffuctly touching and working with the feet


Orthopedically, what do we see with long nails?


  • Hypermobility and Degenerative Joint Disease of spinal transition zones
  • Spondylosis and articular facet damage
  • Lumbar-sacral hyperflexion and stenosis

Hind limbs

  • Sacroiliac pain
  • Hip dysfunction and dysplasia
  • Sciatica
  • OCD
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Stifle and hock hyperextension
  • Patella ligament disorders
  • Hamstring muscle fibrosis
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