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Grooming your dog, Toenails, Teeth, and Ears

Grooming, Toenails, Teeth, and Ears

A wild dog grooms himself and maintains his claws, skin, teeth, and coat in good condition. However, certain inherited characteristics in dogs or an unnatural diet or unsuitable exercise regimen can lead to a need for special attention.
grooming-toenails-teeth-ears
grooming-toenails-teeth-ears

Grooming:

Dogs with long coats require regular combing and brushing. Tangling or matting of the coat can lead to skin disease. The dog should enjoy this attention from the outset. If this proves difficult at home, seek help from a professional dog groomer. Some dogs benefit from clipping in early summer, to prevent overheating.

Toenails: 

A dog who gets plenty of exercise, including on abrasive or hard surfaces, will usually keep his toenails healthy. But many dogs require some help in maintaining toenail length and condition. This can be a result of conformation (if the foot is flat, the toenails will grow longer before wearing on a surface) or because the exercise regimen is not ideal. A vet is usually willing to help with clipping toenails, but this is also something that can be done at home.
 A good-quality pair of toenail clippers is required. It is important that the dog is not hurt by the procedure. Many dogs acquire an extreme (and quite understandable) fear of the procedure, having been cut too close to the quick or having had the quick pinched by an incorrect procedure. In white claws, it is usually easy to see the quick. A cut should not be made closer than about Vio inch from the tip of the quick. In dark claws, great care is needed, and enlisting veterinary help may be the wiser option. The cut should never be made from side to side (painful pinching can result, even without drawing blood), but always from the dorsal to ventral (from the ground side to the upper side of the nail). It is important to check all dewclaws, too.

Teeth:

A natural-type diet of raw meat with an occasional raw knucklebone (see page 20) to chew may prevent problems with teeth and gums (a marrow bone may be too rich and too hard for safety). Despite the simplicity of this preventive measure, many dogs need dental attention because of starchy, dry, or sloppy foods. The teeth need to be subjected to the stresses and strains of chewing raw meat and bones to maintain healthy function. Should tartar begin to develop, it needs to be cracked or scraped away before it causes gum recession. Minor scaling can usually be easily removed with a thumbnail. Plaque can be cleaned off with a toothbrush. In cases where there is already bad oral health, it may be necessary to ask a vet for help, in order to make a fresh start.

Ears:

For most dogs, the ears require no attention. They should be checked from time to time, nonetheless. Signs of trouble may be scratching or shaking the ears, with the affected ear being held low. If the dog suffers from a skin problem, the ears may also be affected, resulting in inflammation, excess wax production, or even pathological discharge. Veterinary help may be needed, but it may be possible to obtain sufficient relief by the use of aromatherapy. In dogs with generalized skin and ear problems, a homeopathic constitutional prescription should be sought from a holistic vet. Dogs with long, hairy ears (e.g., Spaniels) may be prone to picking up grass seeds in their ears, especially during the summer or fall. This is an extremely painful condition and requires immediate veterinary help. Clipping such ears during the early summer may prevent the problem.

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