The How And Why Of Trimming Your Dog’s Toenails

trimming your dog's toenailsOne of the most difficult things to do with your dog is to trim their nails; especially if they don’t like having their nails cut. Trimming your dog’s nails is an important grooming task that helps them stay happy and healthy. When their nails grow too long, health problems could occur. Dogs that run around on hard surfaces like concrete or blacktop, their nails are often worn down naturally. For dogs that spend most of their time indoors or running around on soft surfaces, their nails don’t get worn down regularly.

Nails that are too long are at risk of being torn off. This can result in an injury that could require veterinary care if it is serious enough. Longer nails also make it harder for dogs to walk around comfortably. If a dog’s nails hit the floor constantly as they walk, more pressure is put onto the nail bed that can cause discomfort that forces your dog to distribute their weight differently while they walk. In the end, this all can cause the way their toe and paw joints are aligned to be affected in a negative way.

If your dog is not used to having their nails trimmed, one should start getting them used to the clippers and having their paws handled. You can do this by forming a positive association with it by rewarding them with treats and praise until they allow you to clip their nails without getting too nervous.

There are several types of dog nail trimmers including scissors, guillotine-type, and grinder tools designed for dogs. You can use whatever type you are most comfortable with, or whatever works best for your dog. It is a good idea to have some sort of styptic power or other clotting power on hand to stop bleeding in case you cut a nail too short.

To trim your dog’s nails, pick up one paw, and firmly but gently place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way. Next, push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail. Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Include the declaws which are located on the inner side of the paw. Lastly, avoid clipping past the curve of the nail. This helps you avoid hitting the quick, the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels. If you were to hit the quick, it is extremely painful and will bleed. On dogs with dark nails, there will be a chalky white ring marking the quick.

Trimming your dog’s nails can be a difficult task that you and your dog do not like. With praise and positive association, trimming time can grow to be a painless task for you and your dog. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.

Proper Hygiene Tips For Your Pet

proper hygiene for your petIt is essential to maintain proper hygiene for your pet to ensure that serious problems don’t happen. Basic general hygiene can also help keep them happy, healthy and away from that dreaded trip to the veterinarian.  Dental care, grooming, and keeping their eyes and ears clean from the start can have major health benefits as they grow older. The added bonus is a happy pet that looks great, as well as saves you on vet bills.

Here are some tips of basic proper hygiene for dogs:

Ears- It is good to clean the ears at least once a week.  Check for ticks, redness, inflammation and unusual odors.  If any of these symptoms exist, see your veterinarian right away.  This may indicate that your pet has an ear infection.  Due to the anatomy of the ear, ear infections and complications can occur easily, especially in the long, floppy-eared dog breeds.  To clean the ears, use a cloth dampened with an ear cleaning solution and get rid of the dirt slowly.  It is important to not stick a Q-tip deep into the ear canal, as it can puncture the ear drum easily.

Nails- It may not seem like an overly important health concern, but it can be.  A lot of pets have long nails and the main complaint is that “we hear them when they walk across the floor”  but it can be quite dangerous.  Excessively long toenails can be easily torn, resulting in major bleeding episodes and sometimes a trip to the emergency vet.  These pets are very sore and frequently lame.  The long nails can also be so long, they even curve and grow into the pad leading to pain and infection.  These pets usually need to be sedated to cut the nail away and clean out the wound that was created.

Eyes- Eyes must always be kept clean.  Eye infections can be a big problem that you will want to avoid if possible.  Irritants in the air like dust and pollen, as well as other factors like chemicals, shampoos and injuries, can cause eye infections.  The most common eye infection is conjunctivitis; the cause will determine the treatment and a visit to your veterinarian.  Common symptoms include frequent blinking, redness, discharge from the eye and swelling.

Different eye types need different kinds of care. Dogs with skin folds (English Bulldogs) or excessive weeping will need a daily cleaning and dogs with protruding eyes will be prone to dry eyes and may need daily moistening drops.  When cleaning the eyes it is important to use a clean cloth and wipe the dirt away from the eyes.  Start at the center of the eye and wipe towards the sides.  Not the other way around.  If you notice a yellow discharge from the eye, consult your veterinarian right away.

Teeth- Dental care is just as important for your dog as it is for you.  Regular teeth cleaning will ensure their teeth are free from decay, plaque and tartar that can lead to infections and illness, as well as costly vet visits.  Poor oral hygiene can cause gum disease like gingivitis and periodontal disease, where eventually gaps will form under the teeth and bacteria will grow.  This can cause bone loss and tissue damage between the teeth and gums.  When brushing your dog’s teeth, it is important to start as early as possible in the puppy stage to get them used to it and always a formulated toothpaste for dogs.  Brushing will also keep your pet’s breath fresh, which is always good.

Grooming- Your regular grooming routine should include brushing, trimming and bathing.  Grooming your dog will keep their skin shiny and healthy.  This will also reduce matting which can cause skin problems.  It also gets rid of bacteria and built up dirt and grime that can lead to a number of skin conditions like hypersensitivity and infections.  Grooming promotes blood circulation and hair growth along with removal of loose hair.  It also offers quality time between you and your dog to create a special bond.

It is important not to bathe them too often as their skin can become dry and cause them to itch.  When bathing it is important to use shampoo that is formulated for pets and not to use human shampoo.  It is best to use cool water and do not use a blow dryer to dry them.  Warm water and the blow dryer can dry out the skin.

You don’t need to be a Powerball winner to take proper care of your pet. All of the above tips are very inexpensive to accomplish. Just remember poor hygiene can lead to discomfort and serious illness for your pet, not to mention costly vet bills for you.  Just like you, pets need general hygiene to maintain good health and wellbeing.  There are hundreds of different pet care products available for all species, breeds, and budgets to make sure that you can provide your pet with the best care.  If you have any questions or concerns at all, don’t hesitate to contact our office.