Nail Care For Your Dog and Cat
Just like many humans go for pedicures or medical maintenance on their feet, so do our furry friends. They need their nails maintained. This can be done either by a professional groomer or by you at home. The professional way is by taking your pet to a groomer or to your veterinarian’s office. If you choose the at home method, you will need the proper tools and a lot of patience and sometimes the skill of a professional wrestler.
When you hear the clicking of nails upon the floor you know it is time for the animal’s pedicure. If you plan on cutting/clipping your dog’s nails at home you should start by introducing your pet to the routine while it is a puppy or kitten. Introduce the little one to a relaxed grooming routine. First hold a paw in your hand and gently rub it. Animals’ feet are sensitive to touch and can cause them to panic.
If the puppy or kitten is nervous, just touch the clipper to their claws. You don’t have to start clipping immediately, this is the introductory stage. When your pet becomes used to the touching of feet by hands and clippers, then it is time for their first clip. This can be done with human nail clippers. A simple clip of one nail is enough at this stage. Then gently build up the animal’s tolerance for nail grooming a nail a day.
Sometimes the daily walks through the neighborhood and running at the dog park will be enough to keep the dogs nails short. The same can be said for scratching posts for cats. However, as your pet grows so do their nails you want to have the right equipment for the task of trimming their nails.
Besides having the right tools for clipping nails, it doesn’t hurt to have a second set of human hands to help you comfort the animal during what can be a frightening time for them. That extra pair of hands can help the person carefully do the clipping. If you clip the nail too short, it will quick the nail and cause bleeding. Owners and pets are known to panic if the nail is quicked.
If this should happen you should be ready like a first responder to treat the wound. First apply direct pressure to the nail and reassure the animal that everything will be okay in a soothing voice. After applying direct pressure you can use one of the following to control the bleeding; styptic pencil (like people use when cutting themselves shaving), corn starch or simply drag the affected nail through a bar of soap until the bleeding stops.
If this should happen, remember to not only speak soothingly to the animal while treating its injury, but give it a treat that lets him know you’re sorry and he did nothing wrong. When the clipping is completed, it is time to let the puppy or kitten know how proud you are of them and give them more treats for being cooperative little helpers. Eventually they will look forward to their nail grooming and no longer see it as a wrestling match or a battle of wits.
As your dog or cat become older, you may notice they have dew claws on the inside of their legs. Some only have them on the front legs others have them on all four. They kind of resemble thumbs. Some dogs and cats use them for extra mobility. Sometimes the claws are removed surgically when only days old. Often with pedigree animals they are a requirement for showing the animal in either a dog or cat show. An example of this is the beautiful and majestic Great Pyrenees who has two dew claws on each front leg as well as dew claws on the rear legs.
No matter what, if your animal has dew claws, they too must be maintained for the health of your pet. Dew claws have a tendency to be ignored and they continue to grow since they seldom touch the ground to be worn down. This can lead to painful and infected ingrown nails.
When cutting dew claws watch not to “quick” the nail, but if you do, follow the same first aid suggestions spoken of earlier. If bleeding does not stop in either case, take your animal to your veterinarian and let him treat the injury.
Pet grooming for the pet owner can be cost effective if you are patient and the animal is cooperative. Sometimes it is worth the home grooming. Other times, when you hear the clicking of nails on the floor, a trip to the groomer or vet might be order.