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Nail Trims & Ear Cleanings: How to Safely Do Them at Home

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Pets, like people, vary greatly in their tolerance for grooming. Some adore massages, petting, and attention, while others prefer little to no touching. So when it comes to things like trimming your pet’s nails or cleaning their ears, you may have to work with their preferences.

For cats, nail trimming shouldn’t be an issue. Providing plenty of appropriate scratching surfaces should keep claws at a healthy length. For many dogs, though, a trim now and then may be necessary. Claws that become too long or sharp can snag on things, cause discomfort, or even be pulled off.

A few tips for trimming your dog’s nails:

  • Use clippers with a guard. This will keep you from clipping so short that you cut the quick, the blood vessel that runs into each nail.
  • If your pet’s nails are dark and you can’t see the quick, trim only the smallest bit.
  • Once you’ve clipped, smooth the edges with an emery board or an electric tool like a Dremel – just be aware that the sound may scare some pets.
  • If you do end up cutting the quick, don’t panic. It looks bad, but it’s not remotely life-threatening if you remain calm. Apply pressure for a few minutes to stop the bleeding, and use styptic powder if you have it. Call your veterinarian just in case follow-up is needed.

Ear cleanings may be necessary if your pet needs medication to clear up an infection, or they are prone to waxy build-up. For cats and dogs, here’s how to get rid of the gunk:

  • Using a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution, squirt enough liquid into the ear canal to fill it.
  • Gently massage the base of your pet’s ear, where the canal is, for about 30 seconds to ensure the cleaner has a chance to work. You should hear it squishing around.
  • Using a cotton ball (NEVER a swab on a stick), wipe up excess cleaner or any wax from the inside of the ear.
  • Allow your pet to shake his head after, which will help loosen things up.
  • Wipe once more with cotton, and then give your pet a treat for being such a good sport.

Of course, if your pet shows signs of aggression or won’t hold still long enough for you to properly care for them, give us a call. You never want to risk injury to your pet or yourself from a simple trim or cleaning. Our Westfield and Union teams are certified in Fear Free handling and can help complete these tasks safely and quickly.

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