Puppy Love with Kate Whitney
By: PuppyGirl Kate Whitney – June, 2010
Well June is finally here!
By the time this paper goes to print, One Tail at a Time Rescue will have had two adoption days under wraps so far this year. I urge all of you to support any adoption days or doggie events that you hear about. Whether you have a dog or not, supporting these local events and local non-profits is a great thing to do. While I was traveling for work, I got a call from my mom that Honey had broken her toenail and she had to take her to the vet’s office. I knew the break had to be pretty significant if it required a visit to the vet; considering I had just been there a week before with three animals getting their annual checkups, shots, and heartworm medication, which, needless to say, lead to a pretty hefty bill. When I finally returned home a few days later, I looked at Honey’s toe in disbelief. The “quick” was exposed and her whole toenail was ripped off. The vet said this can sometimes happen if the dog runs around on a deck; the nail gets stuck between the boards and breaks. Luckily it was something that would heal just fine with a little ointment, rest, and TLC. With that said, I wanted to talk about dog’s paws and toes.
Dog’s paws provide traction, shock absorption and help with digging. Each foot has four pads on the ground, each with its own toenail. Dog toenails grow just like human fingernails and toenails. And just like humans (most humans) dogs need their nails cut. Nails should be trimmed regularly to a nice trimmed length, but not too short. Long nails can cause dogs to rock back on their paws which causes strain in the legs and interferes with the gait. You can find nail clippers at your local pet store or have the vet or professional groomer do it. I suggest having the vet do it once while you watch. This way you can see exactly how short you should be cutting.
Dog nails have something called a “quick” which is ultimately a blood supply in the nail. You want to avoid cutting the nail so short that you cut or expose the quick. The sharp ends of the nails are dead tissue and can be clopped without any pain. Ultimately you want to trim as close to the quick as possible without actually cutting it and making it bleed. This takes practice. Sometimes even vets cut too close and the quick bleeds. I think it’s better to leave the nail a little longer than cut it too short. Start with trimming the sharp, curved point and work back up the nail a little at a time, avoid cutting a large portion at one time. In light colored nails, the quick appears as a dark line and is usually seen easily. In darker nails, the quick is almost impossible to see. Honey has white nails and my other puppy, Dash, has dark nails, so I get a little of both. Before you cut, make sure you are in a well lit area so you can see what you are doing. Also make sure that your dog is comfortable and isn’t going to jump and move when you trim.
Many dogs don’t like to have their feet touched. So don’t risk it if this is the case. You should bring your dog to the vet or groomer and have them do it. One way to start a dog off right with regard to touching its feet is to handle their feet daily once you get the dog. This is easy to do with puppies, but harder to do with older dogs. Dogs that have had their nails cut too short and had the quick bleed might be anxiety about their feet being touched. When the quick bleeds it’s painful. Make this experience a happy positive one with lots of reassurance, treats, kisses, and petting.
Pay attention to paw licking. When dogs lick their paws it could be a grooming technique, a little OCD, or something could be causing them pain. It’s easy for dog to get cuts on their paws. Think about how much they walk around, inside and outside, and for the most part they don’t wear shoes (maybe some of you put shoes on your dog). I always make a conscious effort to look where my dogs are walking. Be aware of broken glass and other hazardous items. If a dog steps on something sharp and it penetrates the paw, the paw will bleed a lot. Don’t panic. If you stay calm your dog will stay calm. Put a clean cloth over the wound to stop the bleeding. Do not take the foreign object out of the foot because it can cause more hemorrhaging. Instead, you must take the dog immediately to the vet’s office. Your dog might require stitches and/or antibiotics. It’s critical to start your dog on antibiotics so they won’t get an infection which could ultimately lead to a lot worse than just the cut. In addition to a cut on the foot, licking might be due to a broken nail. Study your dog’s paws carefully so you can take note of any changes. As in Honey’s case, the vet had to rip the toenail off (his quote “remember how you used to take off a Band-Aid?”). My mom said she didn’t even flinch. I highly recommend having a professional do these types of things for you. I’m all for doing things myself, but something as serious as this, which could be painful if dealt with incorrectly, should be left to the pros.
A beauty regime for dog nails: (PLEASE do not paint your dog’s nail with nail polish. The nail polish should be left for the humans). Clean your dog’s nails with a combo white vinegar baking soda. Rinse, pat dry, and trim nails. File the tips. Buff the surface with a file. Mix a few tablespoons of olive oil and vitamin E and rub on nails. Wipe off any excess. I hope you and your furry friends have a happy nail trimming experience!!
Be sure to stop by June 19th from 10-3pm for One Tail at a Time’s 2nd Annual Adoption Day at the Saturn car dealership in Haverhill, MA. There will be many great dogs and puppies for adoption. Remember; adopt a dog, save a life.