Toe Care.

ToesCockers have hairy feet, which can make foot care more difficult. If hair is kept trimmed from between the toes and between the pads, the feet will stay drier, they will track less, and have better traction on slippery floors. This will reduce the number of foot infections and make nail care much simpler.

If your dog has sensitive (ticklish) feet, here's a tip for making grooming easier. Apply a bit of gum numbing jell (Oragel, Ambasol, etc.) between the toes and pads. His feet will soon be numb, and he won't squirm around as much. The effect takes 3 to 5 minutes to "set" but it wears off in half an hour.

I find the standard nail clipper is the best design. They are simple to use and maintain. The clipper should be kept clean and sharp. Most clippers come with a spare blade, but this is always lost before it's needed. Spare blades are sold separately.

Toe nails on your dog are a hardened protein, which grows around a "quick". The quick is very sensitive and bleeds freely if clipped. The idea is to cut the nail as short as possible, without cutting the quick. If you should cut into the quick, don't panic. The blood flow can be quickly stopped by applying alum or corn starch. Lucky has ticklish feet, so I clipped his nails too short twice. 2 years later, he's beginning to trust me again.

It is best to clip toenails frequently. If your dog's nails are long, remove 1/4" each week until they are of proper length. As the nail is clipped, the quick will withdraw. After this, keep an eye on their growth. Usually a monthly clipping will keep them short and smooth. Some dogs have clear toenails, so it is easy to see the quick. On dogs like Lucky, with black nails, I remove just past the "tapered" portion of the nail.

If the clippers are sharp, they leave the ends of the nail squared, with sharp edges. Dull clippers will splinter or crush the nail and can hurt the quick. These sharp edges must be removed. Special nail files are available, but require some patience on your part.

My vet showed me an excellent way to trim nails on my parrot. Dremel sells a battery powered tool, with a rotary sanding attachment. When charged, I can trim nails 6 or 8 times before recharging. After 2 years, I'm still on the same sanding wheel. When it begins to slow, I turn the unit on to completely drain the battery before charging. $40, Dremel Mini-Mite, with spare attachments.

With this tool, I don't have to clip as deeply into the nail, and can avoid the quick. If you should happen to sand into the quick, the heat cauterizes the wound. Nails can be quickly shortened and rounded, and my pets prefer shorter nail clipping sessions. I would suggest wearing a filter to avoid breathing the dust, and placing a light towel over your dog's face when doing the front nails. Flying dust is the main drawback to this type of clipping.

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