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Are you comfortable with bathing and grooming your dog, but are concerned about nail trimming? Don’t worry, it’s not nearly as hard as it seems to get your dog’s nails down to a good length.
The first thing to ease your worries and give you a good idea of how to trim your pet’s nails would be to watch someone who is experienced in pet nail trimming. A friend, a groomer or your vet won’t have a problem letting you watch and maybe even giving you some beginner tips.
Some dogs may never need their nails clipped. Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors wearing them down should have them relatively short already, or your animal’s nails may just flake away at the ends without you even knowing. Some breeds, however, do need their nails kept short- a couple examples would be Dachshunds or Basset Hounds.
Remember, accidents happen and there may be a time you will cut a nail too short. If this happens, it may begin to bleed so be prepared, but don’t be startled if it happens.
The first step to trimming your dog’s nails would be to purchase a good nail trimmer. You can ask your vet or someone in your local pet supply store which they recommend. The trimmers that have two pieces you squeeze together in your hand and a small blade that cuts the nail are the type that you want to get.
Start from underneath, not from the top downward. Slide the opening of the trimmer over the nail, but be sure to remain on the whitish area of the dog’s toenail. The pink area of the nail has blood vessels running through it and if you cut it that far, the nail will bleed.
Some dogs have very dark toenails where you won’t be able to see where the live part begins or where the white part ends. In this case, trim a little from the bottom of the nail at the time, checking the end of it as you go. The dead part will be white and as you get close to the live part of the nail, it will get dark.
When you are ready to trim, make a quick, easy squeeze on the handle of the trimmer. The end of the nail will fall of itself, you don’t have to pull it off. If you like, you can file down the ends of the nail, but taking your dog for a walk on the sidewalk or street will file them just as easily.
If you do cut the nail too short and it starts to bleed, hold a piece of tissue against it with some pressure for a few minutes. Another good idea is to keep some cornstarch or flour handy when you trim your dog’s nails and to put some of this against the bleeding nail. If your dog’s nail continues to bleed longer than a few minutes or if it looks like he is losing a lot of blood, call your vet.
Nail trimming really is not as scary as it seems. You can do a little bit at a time or all at once every week, but just remember that you are not harming the dog and that it needs to be done.
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Older dogs have special needs. If you decide to bring home an older dog you will need to do some special things for him. His health, his activities, his comfort in your home, his diet– all of these things will depend on you.
Whether you are adopting an older dog, you receive one from a friend, or you find an older dog as a stray, your first step should be to take your new friend to the vet. Even if your older dog looks healthy, many times older dogs have some hidden health issues that you can’t see. Your older dog will need geriatric health screening at some point but you may not need to do that right away. Your vet should, however, look at your dog’s teeth to make sure they are in good shape. Poor teeth can often cause an older dog to be unable to eat properly. This can lead to loss of weight and general poor health. Your vet can make sure that your older dog is current on vaccinations — although you should not over-vaccinate an older dog. This general checkup should be able to catch any immediate health problems in your dog.
You should also pay close attention to the diet of your older dog. What has he been eating? What kind of condition is he in? Is he too thin? Too fat? If he’s in good condition you can continue to feed him what he’s used to eating, but if he needs to gain or lose weight you can gradually switch him to a better food. You do not have to choose a “senior” dog food. Experts are split on whether these senior foods are actually good for older dogs. Many dogs lose weight on them. They are generally designed for dogs that gain weight in their later years — they are tested on Labrador Retrievers and Beagles, which gain weight easily. If you have a breed that loses weight when they’re older, as many dogs do, these senior foods would be a bad choice. Instead, you can continue feeding a dog food for “all life stages.” You can add supplements for joint health, such as glucosamine-chondroitin, MSM and others, if you wish. People are divided on whether these supplements actually help an older dog but they don’t do any harm.
If your older dog has any particular health conditions, as diagnosed by your vet, you can add the appropriate supplements or medications.
If your older dog has hip dysplasia or other joint problems, you can work on activities that may help him. Swimming is often good for some hip dysplasia. If your dog is overweight then moderate exercise, such as long walks with you, is highly recommended. Find the appropriate exercise for your older dog. He’s not a young dog anymore but he can and should partake of exercise that he’s able to do.
Finally, make sure that you keep your older dog comfortable in your home. His joints and bones may be achy sometimes. Provide him with comfortable places to sleep, such as a soft doggy bed. Orthopedic doggy beds are very good for dogs with any kind of hip dysplasia. If your dog has joint problems or just feels old and moves more slowly, heated beds or heating pads under some covers can make him feel better. If your dog eats more slowly because he’s missing some teeth give him plenty of quiet time to eat his food. Don’t rush him.
Your older dog may take some time to adjust to living in your home but he will most likely be very happy living with you if you do your best to take good care of him. Follow these tips and your older dog will adjust to your home very quickly.
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