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Spruce up Your Pooch with a Pedicure (aka Paw-dicure)

By: Renae Hamrick, RVT

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After a long day of chasing squirrels, romping with the family, or sleeping on the couch, your dog deserves some pampering. Share some bonding time and spruce up your pooch with a relaxing pedicure!

What You Will Need

Before you get started with your dog's pedicure, you may want to gather the following tools:

1. A comfortable blanket on the floor with enough space for both you and your dog
2. A warm, wet washcloth
3. Nail trimmers
4. Styptic powder
5. A brush or comb
6. Blunt-ended scissors
7. Paw pad cream
8. Pet-friendly nail polish and polish removing pads

Getting Started

Eliminate other distractions and stresses from the room, such as the television, loud children, other pets, etc. Share one-on-one time with your dog. Sit on your pedicure blanket and pet and talk to your dog. Maybe even offer a treat or two.

If your dog is not already accustomed to his pedicure tools, let him sniff them. Give him positive praise as he does.

Throughout the pedicure process, continue to talk to your dog and give him positive attention to make his pedicure extra relaxing.

Clean Paws

Begin by using your washcloth to clean your dog's paws of any debris and dirt. Inspect his paws and pads for foreign objects, cracks, blisters, etc. If you find injuries, contact your veterinarian.

Brush or comb out the hair on the paws to eliminate any tangles, mats, or small pieces of debris.

Nail Trim and Grooming

This has potential to be a stressful part of the pedicure; however, it is the most important to the health of you dog. Nails should be kept at a length that is just off the ground when the dog is standing. In other words, if you hear your dog's nails clicking as he walks, they are too long. Keeping your dog's nails at an appropriate length will make getting around easier and more comfortable. (Dogs who have not received regular nail trims may not be able to have their nails cut this short, as the quick may be too long.)

Nails should be cut to the area that is just before the quick, the nail's blood supply. Cutting into the quick will cause pain and bleeding. If the quick is cut, pack some styptic powder onto the end of the nail. Sometimes flour or baking powder can also be used. Read our article on trimming nails for more information.

When trimming your dog's nails, make it a happy experience. Reward him for being calm with your praise and possibly treats. The remainder of his pedicure can also be a reward. It may even cause him to look forward to his next nail trim.

Another option to a traditional nail trimmer is the new "nail grinder" or rotary tool. This device is basically like a dremeltool that grinds your dogs nail to its desired length. It is easy and fast. The amount you take off the nail is similar to the above.

When using the nail grinder – make sure you introduce it to your dog slowly. Pet him with it and let him get used to it. Then turn it on and give him a massage with it. Introduce it slowly and when he does well – give him positive reinforcement or a treat.

Use your blunt ended scissors to gently cut away any long hair that may be growing out from between your dog's toes and paw pads. Leaving this hair long can lead to uncomfortable matting and the collection of foreign material, snow, mud, etc. Be very careful not to cut the pads or skin of the paws.

Moisturize

Like our feet, dog's paws take a daily beating, and tough, dry tissue develops. Cracks can develop in the paw pads, which can lead to a build-up of debris, causing discomfort. You can purchase creams to moisturize and protect your dog's paw pads. Skin lotions used for humans are not appropriate for dog's pads, as they may soften the tissue too much. The canine creams can also be used on dogs' nails and their calloused elbows.

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