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Nails, ears and teeth. 




There are different types of nail clippers, the guillotine, straight, or side cut nippers. The nipper can squash the nail rather than slice it. Many dogs hate to have their nails cut because they are tender. A quick runs through the nail that can easily be cut and bleed if cut too short. This is painful for the dog and should be avoided. On a white nail it is easy to see the quick inside the outer coating of the nail. It is a vein which is dark because it is full of blood. Cutting this is stressful. On a dark dog or black nail more care must be taken to only snip off the end of the nail. Usually, if you put slight pressure on the nail with the clipper and it is too near the quick the dog will pull its foot violently away from you. Try again, this time taking less nail. Dogs that have good feet and have regular walking on roads or rough ground rarely need to have their toe-nails cut, but if you must do this, try to have an experienced groomer with you when you first attempt this operation. Certainly have some permanganate crystals or a styptic pencil to stop any bleeding. The crystals can be dabbed on the nail with a piece of moist cotton wool and held for a moment until the bleeding stops.
   Take the foot in the left hand, placing a finger beneath the nail. With nail clippers in right hand, cut a small piece of nail at an angle going with the growth of the nail. Repeat with the other side of the nail, taking two cuts rather than one. This way you are less likely to cut the quick and cause pain. Ideally, you could use a firm nail file to get rid of excess nail. For this you hold the dog’s paw on one hand and file with the other. Filing is more natural and I find more effective. It just takes a little more time. Battery and electric nail grinders are a great asset, easy to use and safe. But be sure to put a snood on the dog, or tie its ears back to prevent the long hair getting caught up in.


Tweezers used on dogs’ ears are rather like the tweezers we use to pluck hair from our eyebrows, only they are longer for easier handling. However, they are best used only by those who have expert guidance. Some people pluck the excess hair from ears with their fingertips. If you attempt this, be sure to take tiny segments of dead hair at a time, or you will cause severe pain to the dog. It has to be said that far too many people pluck ears when the hair is not ready to come out, and they can be a bit overenthusiastic. Plucking ears is often not necessary. Dogs should have some sort of protection and hair is there for good reason. The less you poke about in ears the better. Check the dog’s ear frequently in routine grooming. If in doubt ask an expert.
   Where infection or mites have invaded, deal with this immediately you see brown caking or smell an odour, or the ear sounds wet. Thornit (available on line or some pet shops, some vets and dog shows) is used by many groomers and breeders to dust clean and help loosen any dead hair that needs removing. Dogs that scratch and hang their heads need veterinary attention. Healthy dogs have healthy ears. Some puppies when they are teething can have slight ear problems.



Dogs that chew raw meaty bones tend to have good teeth. If dogs are not allowed regular natural teeth cleaners, such as bone, or baked pig’s ears, then dog toothpaste may be required to clean the teeth. Where there is an accumulation of tartar, this will have to be dislodged with a tooth scale. It is not a nice job to tackle but better to do this, if possible, rather than have a full anaesthetic at the vet’s. Provided tartar is not entrenched, it will chip off relatively easy with a tooth scale or the ends of a pair of closed scissors.
   Hold the muzzle with your left hand, putting your first finger into the dog’s mouth behind the canines. Take the scale with your right hand, chip or scrap off the tartar from each tooth. Gums must be swabbed with a mild solution of peroxide, or preparation antiseptic mouth-wash. The other option is to purchase an ultrasonic tooth cleaner. They come with brushes and dog dental paste, which dogs seem to like. And full instructions. 
   Often even dogs with bad tartar can have a good mouth clean with raw bones and, or, pigs ears to chew a couple of times a week. Neglected teeth will end up needing veterinary treatment. So be one step ahead and avoid this situation. Show dogs, or those with wonderful full ear fringes can have their hair pulled back by slipping a snood over their head. These can be made from old material or purchased from pet outlines, or on line.


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