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Grooming Tips: Nails

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If you can hear your dog's feet clicking on the floors or pavement, it's time for a nail-trimming session. This can be a nerve-wracking experience for both dogs and dog-owners, but it doesn't have to be. If you get in the habit of trimming off very small amounts regularly, you won't cause your dog any pain and nail-clipping can be an easy part of caring for your dog.

A vein in the dog's foot actually extends into part of the nail -- this is why cutting off too much, or cutting îto the quick,î will cause the nail to bleed. If your dog has white or clear nails, you can see the vein if you look closely. Remember that your goal is to trim off only the dead part of the nail, staying away from the pink-colored vein. Start with the clear nails, if your dog has any, so you get a sense of how much you should cut. Most clippers have a guide that you can set to keep you from trimming off too much. If your dog has dark nails, make several tiny cuts instead of one big one.

Always err on the side of cutting off too little and repeating the process more often, rather than cutting too much. If you accidentally cut off too much and the nail starts bleeding, apply styptic powder (available from your vet) or Kwik-Stop to halt the bleeding.

Some dogs are wary about having their feet touched, even by their owners. You may want to have a few practice sessions with your dog before you introduce the clippers. Sit on the floor or couch and just hold your dog's paw in your hand for a few seconds, building up to half a minute. Giving praise and/or a treat at this time can help your dog learn that this is a good experience. If your dog is unsure about the clippers, try trimming just the nails on one paw, or just a nail or two, then taking a break.

Be sure to trim your dog's dew claws as well. These are the îextraî nails that are higher up on the dog's ankle. Dew claws that grow too long can catch on things and be torn out, causing your pet pain and bleeding. If you keep your pet's nail in good condition, you can rest assured that your dog's feet are healthy and well cared for.Looking for more information and other great articles about camping with pets? Visit PetCamping.com
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