Bark All About It!
I have a confession. I have a fetish with nails. No, not of the human type. One look at my nails and you'll know that's not what I'm talkin' about. I have a dog nail fetish. I like nicely trimmed nails that don't click, click on the concrete or hardwood floor. If I start to hear that sound coming from one of my four dogs, I get a little anxious. I feel a sense of responsibility to keep my dogs' nails well-trimmed, and that sound suggests that I'm falling behind. 30 minutes with a Dremel, some treats, and a steady line-up of dogs, and I feel instant gratification and relief--I can check that off of the canine health-care check list that continues to revolve.
Most people I know absolutely HATE to cut their dogs' nails. For whatever reason, I rather enjoy it. I'd like to help others learn, at the very least, not to fear the concept, so I've included a few helpful resources. Check out this link I found on the subject. It's very thorough, and walks you through the process, step-by-step. I also created a video at The Local Bark, showing you two different methods of nail trimming: the traditional method, using nail clippers, as well as a more modern method, with the use of a rotary tool like a Dremel. I hope you find these videos helpful in your learning process of taking on this totally do-able task.
How to Trim Your Dog's Nails
How To Trim Your Dog's Nails with a Rotary Tool
Teeth are another important aspect of your dog's personal hygiene. Did you know dogs can suffer from tartar, gum disease, and tooth decay, just like we do? As with humans, these canine dental problems can actually lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease. The good news? Cleaning your dog's teeth is really no big deal. The secret? Start while they are young, and keep it positive! I've included a great link with a walk-through how-to. Too busy to brush? At the very least, allow your dog some great things to chew that will keep much of the tartar at bay. Two of my favorites are knuckle bones (kinda gross--an outdoor engagement, for sure) and compressed rawhides. I steer clear of the regular rawhide in an effort to avoid a potential blockage or asphyxiation, but have never had trouble with the pressed bones.
Last on my healthy-dog check-list? Ears. It amazes me how often dogs are walking around with an ear infection, unbeknownst to their owners. A few red flags? Your dog shakes his head more than normal, seems to have a bit of a 'tilt' to his head when you look at him straight on, or rubs at his ear with his paw, in an effort to itch, or relieve the pain. His inner ear may also feel warm to the touch or look a little pinker than normal. But the biggest clue involves using your nose. Yep, you heard me. Get in close, lift your dog's ear flap and inhale. Does it smell sour or rancid? That's an ear infection. I'm known as the infection-detection expert around The Local Bark—since the birth of my children, my body has undergone some strange change in hormones or biochemistry which has enabled me with sniffing super-powers. I can often detect an ear infection just by being in the vicinity of the infected dog. I know. I'm special. Along with the smell you'll often see some black 'gook' in the crevices of the ear, but not always. An ear infection requires immediate attention from your veterinarian, as they can be very painful. You'll likely need your dog to be on a course of antibiotics, as well as about a two-week treatment with an external ointment.
So what's the best prevention? I landed on a product called BioGroom Ear Care Cleaner many years ago, and I SWEAR by it! I've tried many an ear cleaner over the years, and none have stacked up nearly as well as this one. It's a cheap investment, and in an ideal world, you're cleaning your dog's ears with it once a week. The payoff? There's a good chance you'll never have to make a vet visit for an ear infection. Here's a How-To on ear cleaning, again, with the help of about.com:
So there you have it: my top three canine home health care must-dos. Keep up with this list on a regular basis and you, your dog and your checkbook will thank me. ;-)