Wednesday, July 21, 2010
By Suzanne Alicie
One of the tasks that often gets overlooked by dog owners is the doggie pedicure. Unless you have a breed that gets groomed often you may not spare a thought to grooming your dog’s feet. But this is actually very important for their health and mobility. As a responsible pet owner you will want to meet all the needs of your pet.
Most dogs who are walked regularly or allowed to play outside wear their nails down to a natural length. But if your dog doesn’t take care of this naturally it is important that you take care of it so that your dog doesn’t suffer from bent and broken claws, or claws that actually grow sideways. This is a common problem on the front paws where your dog’s weight rests. If the two front-most claws get too long when your dog walks, they will spread apart and bend instead of wearing down naturally.
Another problem many dogs experience is when the fur between the pads on their feet gets too long, they lose traction and can easily slip and fall down stairs and on hard floors. It is important that you realize as a dog owner that a doggie pedicure is not just to make the dogs feet pretty, it can help you avoid additional vet bills and save your dog from unnecessary pain.
To perform a doggie pedicure at home you will first need to make sure that you have all the supplies on hand. Over the years I have found what seems to be the ideal tools for doggie pedicures and keep them all in a drawer to use after baths. We have two large dogs that have thick hard claws and lots of hair around their pads. My pedicure supplies include:
• Dog nail clippers - heavy duty for large dogs
• Small scissors
• Styptic powder
• Antibacterial ointment
• Personal hair clipper - small such as for bikini line or eyebrows.
• Heavy duty emery board/electronic dog nail file system
I usually sit on the floor where the dog can lie down in front of me. I start with the back paws because they usually require less work. The hardest part for me is the clipping of the nails. I am always scared I will cut the nails too short and damage the quick. Sadly at times I have, but styptic powder stops the bleeding. Nails should be cut straight and fast to avoid bending and tugging on the nail. Always make sure your clippers are sharp and won’t cause your dog pain.
Once all the nails are trimmed I move to the “toe hairs.” Using a small pair of sharp scissors I trim long hairs that are around the nails and the ankles of the dog’s feet, front and back. Then I use a personal hair trimmer to get in between toes and pads to remove the hairs that could cause them to slip and slide.
The next step is smoothing the nails so that they won’t split, crack, or cause nasty scratches on me or the dog. I like electronic filing systems but my dogs don’t like the noise, so it is usually faster to use a heavy duty emery board. No matter what you use, the idea is to smooth the rough edges and leave your dog with slightly rounded claws.
Once all the trimming, clipping and shaping is done, all that is left is applying an antibacterial ointment to any places where I have cut the nail too short or caused irritation of the paws with the hair clippers. A small dab of ointment to promote healing and kill germs, and voila! Doggie pedicure finished.
Not all dogs will lie still and allow you to manipulate their feet in this manner, and each dog may require a different approach. For example, with my two dogs I have one that requires another person to pet her belly while I work on her feet and the other one who tries to gnaw on my hand while I hold the foot I am working on. Neither of them is really scared or trying to bite me, they are just letting me know they are not happy with what I am doing. Now if I pull out the electronic file and turn it on both of them will bark at it and try to bite it. Every dog is different, and you may have to make some adjustments to account for the things that will frighten or upset your dog.
If you are afraid your dog will bite you, do not attempt to give him a pedicure yourself; take him to a professional groomer. Dogs can sense your fear and nervousness and will react in kind because they don’t realize that you may be afraid of them or of hurting them. All they know is that something is frightening you and therefore they will become nervous, skittish and possibly defensive as well.
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie