Why keeping a dog’s nails short and sweet should be a top priority for all dog owners.
(Excerpted from Whole Dog Journal)
By Denise Flaim
Let’s get this out of the way first: Nobody, it seems, likes to “do” dog nails. Not you, not the dog, nor anyone else who may be called upon to take on nail-clipping for you (such as a technician at your local veterinary hospital or even a professional groomer). But for the health of your dog, it must be done, and should be done frequently enough to keep your dog’s nails short.
Why Dogs Need Their Nails Trimmed
When dogs spend a good deal of time outdoors, running on various hard surfaces, including concrete and blacktop, their nails are gradually worn down, and they have less of a need for formal nail-grooming sessions. But today, with many suburban and urban dogs increasingly confined indoors when their owners are at work, and running mostly on soft surfaces such as lawns when they are outdoors, this welcome friction is often absent in their daily lives.
Long, unkempt nails not only look unattractive, but over time they can do serious damage to your dog (not to mention your floors). When nails are so long that they constantly touch the ground, they exert force back into the nail bed, creating pain for the dog (imagine wearing a too-tight shoe) and pressure on the toe joint. Long term, this can actually realign the joints of the foreleg and make the foot looked flattened and splayed.
Again, this isn’t just an aesthetic problem, it’s a functional one: Compromising your dog’s weight distribution and natural alignment can leave her more susceptible to injuries, and make walking and running difficult and painful. This is especially important in older dogs, whose posture can be dramatically improved by cutting back neglected nails.
In extreme cases, overgrown nails can curve and grow into the pad of the foot. But even if they are not that out of control, long nails can get torn or split, which is very painful and, depending on severity, may need to be treated by a veterinarian.
And in the end, unattended nails create a vicious cycle: Because the extra-long nails make any contact with his paws painful for the dog, he avoids having them touched, which leads to unpleasant nail-cutting sessions, which makes both human and dog avoid them, which leads to longer intervals between trims, which leads to more pain …
The Basics of Clipping Dog Nails
So what’s the goal? What’s the “right” length? While some breeds (most notably the Doberman Pinscher) are often shown with nails so short they can barely be seen, the most commonly accepted rule of thumb is that when a dog is standing, the nails should not make contact with the ground. If you can hear your dog coming, her nails are too long.
The nails of mammals are made of a tough protein called keratin. Technically, dogs have claws, not nails, though we’ll use the latter term in its colloquial sense for this article. (The distinction is that nails are flat and do not come to a point. And if your nail is thick enough and can bear weight, it’s called a hoof.)
Dog’s nails differ from ours in that they consist of two layers. Like us, they have the unguis, a hard, outer covering in which the keratin fibers run perpendicular to the direction in which the nail grows. But unlike us, under their unguis, dogs have the subunguis, which is softer and flaky, with a grain that is parallel to the direction of growth. The faster growth of the unguis is what gives the dog’s nail its characteristic curl.
The Canine Toenail Quick
There’s a reason why the phrase “cut to the quick” means to deeply wound or distress: Running through the nail is a nerve and vein called the “quick.” Nicking or cutting this sensitive band of tissue is very painful for the dog – and messy for the owner, as blood often continues oozing from the cut nail for what seems like an eternity. (Keeping a stypic-powder product, such as Kwik-Stop, on hand can help promote clotting and shorten the misery. Or, in a pinch, try flour.)
Shortening the nail without “quicking” the dog is easier said than done – unless your dog has white or light-colored nails, in which case, you’re in luck: The quick will be visible from the side, as a sort of pink-colored shadow within the nail. Avoid going near it. If you trim the nail with a clipper or scissors, trim a bit off the end of the nail, and notice the color at the end of the nail (in cross section). As soon as the center of the nail starts to appear pink, stop.
You can’t see the quick in a black or dark-colored nail. With these nails, you have to be even more conservative about how much nail you trim off. After making each cut, look at the cross-section of the nail. If you see a black spot in the center – sort of like the center of a marrow bone – stop cutting. It’s likely your next slice will hit the quick.
The longer a dog’s nails are allowed to grow, the longer the quick will become, to the point that taking even a very small bit of nail off the end “quicks” the dog. Then the goal becomes a matter of snipping or grinding the nails to get as close as possible to the quick, without actually cutting it. This is perhaps easiest to accomplish with a grinding tool (such as a Dremel), though it can be done with clippers, too, with practice. By grinding away the nail all around the quick – above it, below it, and on both sides – the quick has no support or protection, and within days it will begin to visibly recede, drawing back toward the toe.
If a dog’s feet have been neglected for months (or, horrors, years) at a time, it might take months to shorten those nails to a healthy, pain-free length. But if you keep at this regularly, it should get easier for the dog to exercise. And the more he moves, the more his nails will come into contact with the ground in a way that will help wear the nails down and help the quicks to recede.
We get a fair number of folks asking about bad breath in dogs. Many times we have an over the counter treatment (toothbrushing, mouth rinse, chews, etc) that will help. But sometimes it’s a more serious issue. Here’s a piece from petmd.com……
Halitosis in Dogs
Halitosis is the medical term used to describe an offensive odor that comes from the mouth, producing bad breath. A number of causes may be responsible for this condition, notably periodontal disease, a disease resulting from bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria is also associated with plaque and cavities.
Small animal breeds and brachycephalic breeds (characterized by their short-nosed, flat-faced features; e.g., the Pug, Boston Terrier, Pekingese) are the most prone to periodontal and other mouth diseases, in large part because their teeth are close together.
Symptoms and Types
In most cases, there are no other symptoms aside from a bad odor emanating from the mouth. If the cause of the odor is a disease of the mouth, other symptoms may become apparent, including pawing at the mouth, inability to eat (anorexia), loose teeth, and excessive drooling, which may or may not have traces of blood.
A variety of conditions may lead to halitosis, including metabolic disorders such asdiabetes mellitus (commonly known as sugar diabetes); respiratory problems such as inflammation of the nose or nasal passages (rhinitis); inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis); and gastrointestinal problems, such as enlargement of the esophageal tube, the main channel that leads from the throat to the stomach.
Other possible causes of halitosis might be traced to a trauma, like that of an electric cord injury. Viral, bacterial or fungal infections can cause foul odors to emit from within the body, and dietary problems can play a role in the emission of odor as well. For example, if your dog has been eating offensive foods, or is exhibiting a behavior called coprophagia, where it is eating feces, your dog will have correlating foul breath.
Further possibilities are pharyngitis, an inflammation of the throat or pharynx, andtonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils. The presence of cancer, or the presence of foreign bodies may also result in disease of the mouth and accompanying bad breath. But, the most notable cause of halitosis is a disease of the mouth such asperiodontal disease, which is due to plaque bacteria buildup.
Diagnostic procedures to evaluate periodontal disease as the most likely cause of halitosis include X-rays of the inside of the mouth, and an examination of the mouth for characteristics such as tooth mobility and sulfide concentrations.
Once the specific cause of halitosis is known, various therapies may be used to address the problem. In some cases, multiple causes may be to blame. For example, your dog may have periodontal disease along with having a foreign object present in the mouth. Treatment for the condition is dependent upon the cause(s).
If periodontal disease is to blame, treatment will include cleaning and polishing the teeth, or extraction of teeth that have greater than 50 percent loss of the supporting bone and gum tissues around them. Some medications may help to reduce odor, and help to control the bacteria that infect the gums and other oral tissues, causing bad breath.
Living and Management
You will need to continue to remain observant of your dog’s symptoms. It is important to consistently provide proper professional dental care to your dog, as well as to supplement this with at home tooth care. Daily tooth brushing can help prevent the plaque buildup that leads to related halitosis. You will also need to prevent your dog from eating bad-smelling foods, such as garbage. Cleaning the yard frequently will also avoid incidences of coprophagia.
Spring is a wonderful opportunity to spruce up your home, perhaps add some new accessories and generally get rid of all signs of what has definitely been a long, cold winter. It’s also a great time to spruce things up for your pet.
Start by walking around the house and looking at your home from your pet’s perspective. Spring is definitely an opportunity to pack away that extra-warm pet bed. Check its durability and, if it’s still in good condition, wash it before packing it away. If it’s worn and flat and no longer offering your pet padded comfort, throw it away. There are lots of great beds available with popular home décor colors and designs.
Instead of an actual bed, you may want to consider a stylish pet couch to add a nice feature to your living room.
It’s important that pets stay properly hydrated year-round, but this is particularly important as the weather gets warmer. Clean out your pet fountain including the pump. Replace the filters and run the bowl (whether it is ceramic or stainless steel) through a strong cycle in the dishwasher. Water bowls should be washed weekly and refilled daily as standing water brings algae. And remember to clean food bowls, too. Don’t just keep filling them up.
Spring is a time when pets shed their thick winter coats. So be sure to step up your grooming routine. It’s unhealthy for pets to ingest hair — especially cats as it makes them prone to hairballs. Brush your pet to help with shedding and it’s a wonderful way to spend quality time together on the couch! If you’ve avoided bathing your dog in the cold winter months, either book a grooming appointment with our groomer for a professional trim and bath or consider bathing your pet yourself in our self-wash. We have a wonderful selection of shampoos and conditioners to ensure that your pet has a healthy skin and shiny coat.
Of course, brushing your cat and dog on a regular basis keeps shedding under control and off your beds and furniture. When you are spring cleaning your home, be sure to take the hand tools to get into crevices and get rid of any fur buildup that tends to gather in these areas.
For dogs that have been cooped up indoors during the cold weather months, spring is a great opportunity to once again spend more time outdoors in the garden. Keep your home mud-free by making sure you wipe down their paws before they come back inside. Put down a dog floor mat outside the door to take the brunt of muddy, wet paws.
And don’t forget to treat for fleas and ticks with a product you can trust, like Wondercide. Spring is all about fleas and prevention is key.
Wholesome Pet Essentials will be closed on Easter Sunday, March 27!
from our friends at vetstreet.com
What’s almost as much fun as welcoming a new dog into your home? Going on a shopping spree to make that welcome complete! Let’s face it. Even though your new dog can thrive on love and attention, even dogs have a materialistic streak, and they won’t turn down a plush bed, a fun toy or an entertaining chewy.
Consider the following items for your shopping spree:
Fence. If you plan to let your dog loose in your yard, you will need a fence. The fence should be dog proof from the start, so your dog is never encouraged by successful escapes. Make sure it also prevents marauding animals from getting in. Buried electric fences, while better than no fence, are not ideal because they don’t prevent other animals from getting inside the boundary, and your dog can also run beyond the barrier even though he’s getting a shock, and then not be able to get back inside.
Crate. All dogs should be crate trained, and the best time to start is now. Crates come in three types: wire, which folds flat and has better ventilation; plastic, which is cozy and is approved for airline shipping; and cloth, which is lightweight but can be shredded by dogs who want to get out. Wait until your dog behaves in a hard-sided crate before trying a cloth one.
Baby gates. Baby gates allow your dog freedom while still blocking off restricted areas in your house. Don’t use the old-fashioned accordion style, which can close on a puppy’s neck. Even a long, sturdy piece of cardboard can possibly do the job in a pinch.
Exercise pen. An exercise pen (X-pen) is a 4 foot-by-4 foot portable enclosure that functions as a doggy playpen. It’s safer than locking your puppy in a bathroom, and he’s less likely to object because it doesn’t have that closed-in feeling that a small room gives him. Set the pen in your kitchen or den, where he can be out from underfoot yet still be part of the family when you can’t watch him. They’re also great for traveling to keep your dog from bolting out of motel rooms.
Bed. Beds can range from a cardboard box packed with comfy towels to a miniature bedroom suite that matches your own. But leave the fancy ones until your dog is over his chewing urges.
Anti-chew spray. Like an off-limits sign for your furniture legs, these sprays taste bitter so your puppy will be discouraged from chewing inappropriately.
Collar or harness. A collar or harness is a means of controlling and identifying your dog. A buckle collar is OK for most dogs. A slip (“choke”) or, better, a martingale collar is a good choice for walking on leash because your dog can’t let it slip over his head. However, it’s dangerous to leave them on your dog unattended, as they can get caught on things and strangle your dog. In fact, don’t leave any collar on a puppy unattended, as they have a penchant for getting their lower jaw stuck in it. Make sure any collar is loose enough for you to get a couple of fingers between it and your puppy’s neck, but not so loose that it could slide over his head when walking on leash — or that he can reach down and bite it!
Leash. Start with a sturdy lightweight leash, 4 to 6 feet long. Don’t get a chain leash, which is hard to hold on to.
Retractable leash. These give your dog more freedom, but too many people give them so much freedom that the dog wanders into the road or up to strange dogs or under people’s feet. Retractable leashes should be retracted unless you’re in a safe place away from other people and dogs. They’re an unpopular choice in veterinary waiting rooms.
Identification. Almost any large pet supply store sells identification tags you can make on the spot. Get one.
Cleaning supplies. For rug accidents, use anenzymatic carpet cleaner, which destroys the odor-causing molecules rather than simply covering them up.
Poop scoop. Scoops with a rake on one side are better for grass, and the flat-edge pusher varieties are better for cement surfaces. Two-part scoops are easier to use than hinged versions.
Poop bags. A variety of special doggy poop disposal bags are available, but you can also use a baby diaper disposal bag or a cheap sandwich bag.
Bowls. Stainless steel bowls are durable and easy to clean. Ceramic bowls can be put in the microwave. Plastic bowls hold germs, and a few dogs are allergic to them. Self-feeding or watering bowls are handy but must be cleaned just as often as regular bowls.
Brush. A soft-bristle brush is ideal for getting your puppy used to grooming. Later, you can buy more appropriate grooming tools for his adult coat.
Rinseless shampoo. When you can’t give your dog a real bath, just squirt some rinseless shampoo on him, rub it in and wipe the dirt away with a towel.
Toothbrush. A doggy toothbrush and toothpaste is ideal, but a child’s toothbrush will do. Don’t use human toothpaste, though, which is not made to be swallowed.
Plush toys. Puppies love soft fuzzy toys. Make sure no parts can come off and that your puppy can’t gut it and swallow any noisemakers. Avoid bean or Styrofoam stuffing.
Throw toys. Balls and other toys that encourage playing with people are especially good for social development.
Interactive toys. Toys that challenge your puppy to dislodge food treats can occupy him while you’re away. Rotate several interactive toys with different challenges to help prevent him from getting bored.
And that’s just to get you started! Happy shopping!