Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pawdicures and More

"Pawdicure" is a silly word for tending to your pet's nails, but nail care is not a silly topic. There are serious health issues associated with letting your dog or cat's nails grow too long, in addition to that annoying clicking long nails make on your floors. Long nails strike the ground when your pet walks and that puts pressure on her toe joints making it less than comfortable to walk and potentially causing soreness or arthritis in the feet and further up the leg.

How often should nails be trimmed? That depends upon your pet's lifestyle. If her most athletic effort is stretching after a nap on the couch, her nails will not get worn down and will need to be trimmed every few weeks. If you have a dog that's regularly exercised on pavement or other hard surfaces, she may not need to have toenails trimmed at all, but her dew claws need to be attended to. If not clipped they can and do grow right back into her flesh, causing pain and possible infection.

It's simple enough to buy a set of pet nail clippers at the pet store, but using them is more challenging, especially since your "pawdicure" customer is not going to sit quietly and gossip with you as you deliver the service - at least none of mine do :). More likely your pet will be pulling his/her paws out of your hand every two or three seconds while you try to determine where to clip.

White nails are far easier to clip because you can usually see where the quick is by looking sideways at the nail. You should see a crescent of pink extending from the pad toward the nail tip. Clip just beyond this crescent of live tissue. If you clip too short the nail will bleed briefly; application of a styptic powder will quickly stop bleeding but it may sting.

Black or multi-color nails are more difficult to cope with because the quick is not usually visible, especially on a wildly wiggling paw. For dark nails, patience and experience are your best tools. Clip off only the very end of the nail to square it off and then incrementally clip closer, watching for a small black dot to appear in the cross section of the nail. Once you see this dot, you're close enough.

If your customer is patient, you can finish off the pawdicure with a nail file or Dremel rotary tool with file attachment to smooth the edges. When I was a child growing up on the Cape, we had a neighbor who painted her Yorkshire Terrier's nails a florescent pink - we conservative New Englanders thought that was too much! Times have changed and nail polish is a popular option. Some pet suppliers carry nail pens that make it easier to apply polish to furry friends.

One tip for nail trimming is to wash your pet first so it's easier to see the nail. If your Labrador has just come in from a muddy marsh it's going to be hard to figure out where to clip. The good news is that if you're a kitty fan, it's relatively easy to clip those razor sharp claws.

Of course, the easiest path of all is to call Aussie Pet Mobile for a nail treatment. We offer simple nail clipping, pawdicures with polish, and pad treatments for senior pets and others whose pads are dry; this can cause them to slip on hard floors and cause injury. We'd be happy to schedule an appointment when we're in your neighborhood.

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