Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dog's Breath and other nasty things...

I have promised myself that I will get dog hygiene right this time.
But it’s like a New Year resolution: easy to make but hard to keep.

Clipping the nails of my previous beagles used to be very stressful. They hated it. So at the end of their pedicures, I needed something to calm my nerves. The quick of the nail runs two thirds of the way down, so precision is essential. And it's almost impossible not to draw blood while battling to hold a paw. I have to admit I often paid the vet to do it rather than me.

This is why ThinkingPet trainers emphasise getting pups used to having their paws handled. I was advised to use a small set of nail clippers on my puppies before graduating to the larger dog nail clippers. However my first operation was not completely yelp free. I despaired that I was already instilling aversion behaviour despite the fact no blood was spilt. So I nip only a fraction of a millimetre and I do it when they are in sleepy mode.

Then there are their teeth.
Plaque builds up over time. But taking them to the vet to have it removed is expensive and they have to be sedated. As my old boy aged, the plaque became as hard as cement and had to be literally chiseled off his teeth. The unfortunate thing was that his teeth then became very sensitive and he could only eat soft mushy food. At the moment I use a dog tooth brush that fits on one’s forefinger. I wiggle it around in the pups' mouths so they get used to the feel. But they think it’s just another great toy to chew. Apparently there is a tooth paste that tastes just like liver and encourages dogs to co-operate. We shall see.......
And then there are the ears.
If you have a floppy eared dog, you probably know all about yeast infections. When the climate is damp and the dogs are often in water, eczema and yeast infections are real problems. Jamie is from a dry, high altitude climate and his ears are in good condition but Jemma who is from the coast had "grungy" ears. To cure it, I had to put an ointment in her ears twice a day and clean them out with a special solution. Otherwise she could get a serious infection said the vet sternly.

So good hygiene will save on bills, but it needs a heck of a lot of owner discipline!

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