Dogs do not like having their nails trimmed, and with good reason. There is living tissue, filled with sensitive nerves inside the root of the nail. If you cut too close to the root, this tissue, the quick, bleeds and it hurts. Even cutting the lifeless nail in front of the quick can hurt if the nail is thick and you have to press hard on the nail cutters. Use a sharp, guillotine type of clipper and replace it twice yearly, before it gets blunt from use. Scissors style cutters are more likely to annoy dogs because of the pressure needed although we stock an excellent scissors style with a nail indentation in it that effectively converts it to guillotine action. Use an emery board or metal file to smooth the rough edges after clipping and don’t forget to cut the dew claws, the fifth nails or 'thumbnails'. If your dog is not bothered by the sound or vibration, electric nail grinders are available. The best time to clip nails is after bathing your dog, when the claws have been softened by warm water.
Check the anal sacs
Certain breeds, Dachshunds but not Yorkies, Retrievers but not Shepherds, Spaniels but not sight hounds, are predisposed to anal sac problems. Avoid conditions such as painful abscesses by checking the sacs before bathing your dog. Technically, there is a scent sac under the skin on either side of the anus, at four and eight o'clock. If the sacs are full, when you feel the skin on either side of the anus it feels like a single hard grape. Wearing a dish-washing, latex or plastic glove for protection, squeeze this area, starting at four and eight o'clock and finishing at three and nine o'clock. The malodorous discharge is disgusting to us and enormously attractive to dogs.
Cats have similar anal sacs. Over the years they are prone to block, causing your cat to lick and groom the area more. They are emptied in the same fashion but the amount of pressure needed is sometimes more than you should use at home. We can help show you how to do this.
Ears are part of the skin. Check your pet's ears routinely for odour, inflammation or wax build-up. Young cats often have ear mites. Older ones can develop small tumours in the ear canal. Floppy-eared dogs such as Labradors, Cockers and Bassets are more prone to ear problems because of the damp, warm climate in their ears, an environment that yeast, ear mites and bacteria just love. Don’t worry about a little nondescript ear wax. Ear wax is a natural form of protection. Only remove it if there is abundant wax. Use a proprietary wax remover available from the clinic or simply wipe the inside of the ear with a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil. If wax builds up again within the week bring your pet to us for a checkup.
Ear hair in dogs
Hair growing down the ear canal is a considerable nuisance in particular canine breeds. All naturally wire-haired breeds have ear hair. So too do Poodles, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos and many Yorkshire terriers. This hair needs constant, weekly, even daily removal. Finger nails work well. So do tweezers. Grasp a few hairs at a time and pull them out. Other than in dogs with deeply rooted hair, this is quite easy and not upsetting. Always give a treat after plucking ear hair.
Some breeds, Persian cats and Yorkshire terriers for example, develop 'sleep' in the corners of their eyes. This is simply mucus, a natural protective secretion that keeps the eyes clean. Over night it often forms a small hard crusty ball. Often it is easy to pick off with your finger nails but if it is firmly adherent, soften it with a cotton ball dipped in body temperature water. If left unattended, the dry mucus provides a haven for bacteria, causing a skin infection in the corners of the eyes