The Importance of Trimming Nails

By Shirley Bittner
 Have a question, query or quandary? Write to us at info@pawsh-magazine.com and we’ll track down an expert to answer it for you! How cool is that?
Q: Dear Lisa, I am a new dog owner and have had my puppy (a Lhasa Apso named Winston) for a whole year now. Before getting Wilson I did lots of research on puppy/dog care, including house training, grooming, diet, exercise, training in general, toys, leashes, the works! However, I forget to learn about Winston’s nails. They now need trimming as they are quite long and although not quite curled are beginning to get that way. However, I’ve just learned that as the nail grows the quick part grows too. So my question is, how do I trim my dog’s nails if the quick has grown with the nail? Am I looking at a trip to the vet? I only want what is best for Winston. Thank you! (Harry from Winnipeg.)
A: Hi Harry,
Winston is a very lucky pup to have you as his owner. You’re trying to give him the best life possible, and a dog can’t ask for more. You’ve done everything right, you’ve just overlooked a minor detail—the nails.
You’re correct when you state the quick/vein grows along with the nail. It’s the ability to get the vein to recede back into the nail that allows to the nail to be shortened and kept at the proper length. The nails should be kept as short as possible for good traction and maintenance of proper foot health.
Not too late to start the training though, for both you and him. The key to a successful nail trim is to be able to trim a non-moving object/nail. This means that there has to be a bit of training for Winston to understand that he must be calm and compliant when you hold his feet and touch his nails. Get him used to you tapping the nails with the palm of your hand without twitching or pulling. Then move onto tapping the nails with the nail cutters themselves. No cutting yet, just desensitizing Winston to the sensation without any drama or trauma. Reward when he’s relaxing and accepting. When he’s compliant, then you can actually start cutting/trimming.
Starting with the rear feet may be helpful too. Also, try trimming his nails after he’s had a long play session so that he may be a bit tired and less likely to wriggle. When cutting the nail, the vein is your guideline. You should be trying to cut as close as possible to it without cutting into the vein itself, as nicking the vein in any capacity is extremely painful for any pooch. Getting close to it is what will force the vein to recede, and by its recession, the nail can then be trimmed shorter. Frequent trimming, once (or even twice) a week, will allow you to keep the vein from growing out again and you’ll be able to get the nail back to its proper healthy length.
Be sure you have the proper tools, either a plier or guillotine type nail cutter, and always have some styptic powder (Kwik-Stop) on hand, just in case you accidentally cut too short and draw blood.
If you realize that the widest/thickest part of the nail (backside of nail) is actually representing the vein, and the thinner/narrower, hook portion is the dead part, then it’s easy to see where you should be trimming. Always cut right in front of the widest section of the nail and you will always be in front of the vein and not “quick” the nail. These diagrams may help you visualize where you need to trim. You may also feel more comfortable with filing the nails down instead of trimming.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
Lisa Day has over 30 years experience in grooming and regularly conducts grooming seminars and workshops. She is a certified IPG Master Groomer as well as an IPG certified grooming evaluator and is currently the coordinator of the Professional Grooming Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa.
Lisa has worked with poodles in the sport of competitive obedience for over 20 years in both the US and in Canada. Her current canine partner, GMOTCh Tudorose Smooth Operator RE AM.CDX Am., better known as Shaver, is the first Standard Poodle in the history of Canadian competitive obedience to have achieved the highest title offered in obedience — Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion (GMOTCh).
Some of Lisa’s additional accomplishments in the field of obedience with poodles include:
  • #1 Poodle in Canada 2010
  • #1 Non-Sporting in Canada 2010
  • #3 nationally ranked dog in Canada 2010
  • Winner of the Poodle Club of America’s High in Trial 2010

And the Winner Is…!!!

For the past month you have been voting for one of the nominees for Pet of the Year 2010. Thanks to your participation in this little contest, we can now announce our lucky winner! A pooch who is described time and time again by friends and family alike as an absolute angel (in a fur coat, of course). A pup who had a hard start in life as a bedraggled, matted, petrified mop of fur. A sweet tempered Wheaten Terrier mix who was adopted by her doting parents, Michele and Joel Lonkey, from Florida Little Rescue.
But who is this pooch? Who is the winner?

It’s BAILEY! Voted Pet of the Year 2010!!
Congratulations sweet girl! We hope you enjoy your prize of four custom designed pet ID tags from The Tag Studio!

Welcome 2011

By Laura L. Benn
 As the first dawn of 2011 stirs, so too do thoughts of new year’s resolutions, goals and ambitions. We’ve decided to hit this new year running, sort of like these fellows, with wild enthusiasm and unstoppable determination!  We have a lot in store to make our second year even better than the first and continue to strive for excellence when it comes to reporting important and inspiring pet information. Our New Year’s wish and goal? To make this magazine the best it can be for you, our lovely readers, while also working to help even more pets who are in need of loving, happy homes. With your continued support and encouragement we can make this wish a reality! So with open arms we welcome the year 2011! Happy New Year one and all!

Simbah and Chiquita the Yorkies

Photo Courtesy of Hopeful Hearts Rescue
Simbah and Chiquita are a pair of lovable little Yorkshire Terrirers, who have been best friends their entire lives. Wherever one is, the other is never too far away and they both share a strange adoration for potatoes. Until recently, they had a happy life with their human parent, who sadly had to place them in foster care when she retired to a senior’s residence. Now this dynamic duo is looking for a new home.

Simbah is a 12-year-old affectionate busy-body who sticks his nose into everything to investigate. He is a miniature explorer, constantly on the go and learning about the world around him. He loves long walks and ignores cats; although he does have a lot of fun chasing birds.
Chiquita is 10-years-old and has a very quiet disposition. She loves other dogs her size, but is a bit nervous around larger personalities. She loves being held and will dance around on her hind legs in order to get attention and be scooped up into your arms.
A pair of lovely pooches, Simbah and Chiquita still have a lot of love to give and are eagerly awaiting their next home, which they hope to find together. To learn more, click here.

Cinder’s Surprise

The festive season is fast approaching and I figured I should pick something up for the family dog, Cinder. I stopped by my local Pet Value pet supply store and had a look around, where a salesperson brought my attention to the Orbee-Tuff Bone made by Planet Dog. With a hint of mint oozing from the non-toxic, recyclable bone, and a rating of ‘three out of five chompers’ for durability, I figured it would both hold up to an old dog who used to tear through chew toys and perhaps even freshen her breath a little.

The other neat thing about the Orbee-Tuff Bone is that the center along the length of the bone is hollowed out, creating the perfect hiding place for treats. So not only will this toy work out your pup’s jaw, but their mind as well while they figure out how to free the treats! The Orbee-Tuff also comes in blue, green or pink and ranges from an x-small size (3 1/2” long) to large (8” long). The large bone retails for about $16.99 plus taxes, so it won’t break the bank.
Once back home, my new Orbee-Tuff Bone in hand, I took a scientific approach to testing the bones breath freshening capabilities. I got down on all fours and took a controlled sniff of Cinder, who was delighted to lick my face in return. I also asked my Dad to do the same. The results?
Kevin’s Stink-o-Meter: “Oooh! That’s rank.”
Kevin’s Dad’s Stink-o-Meter: A good bout of laughter followed by, “That’ll teach you, son,” as he walked away.
Having satisfied my scientific urges, I gave Cinder her holiday gift. She gave the bone a few chews, and then sniffed it a little before leaving it on the kitchen floor, obviously not impressed that I had delivered Christmas early. The hollow centre, however, came in handy to renew her interest. I put in a couple kibble pieces and Cinder was back to investigating the bone in no time. She gave it a few more chews and turned it around on the floor for a while, before the kibbles fell out and she gobbled them up eagerly. Unfortunately this is where she lost interest yet again.
Over the next couple days, she would only take interest in the bone if I antagonized her with it, and as soon as playtime was over, she would happily ignore it once again. I have a feeling this is more a reflection of my dog’s character in her old age than the product itself.
The bone did put up with her chewing and our playtime and I definitely found the hollow center useful in getting her interested in the bone. I do, however, reserve my judgment on how it freshens a dog’s breath. Of course Cinder did not get much use out of the bone so perhaps my conclusions are a bit biased. I think it’s safe to say however, that the mint scent would do little more than add a minty overtone to the pungent undertone of a dog’s breath. But, for science sake, I took one more sniff just in case. The results?
Kevin’s Stink-o-Meter: “Oooh, yup, still rank.”
Kevin’s Dad’s Stink-o-Meter: “My son, the genius,” shaking his head as he walked away again.
By Kevin Mogk