Importance of Trimming Your Dog's Nails


In thinking about caring for a beloved dog, many people forget about trimming the nails. Yet keeping your dog’s toenails trimmed is an essential part of the dog’s health, and trimming should be done at least once a month. If your dog’s nails can be heard on the floor when he walks, or if he’s beginning to limp, that means it’s time to trim.

A dog’s walk can be drastically affected by its nails, since dogs walk and run on their toes. This is a stark difference from humans, since our nails are not used for walking or providing balance. If you’re in doubt about how often to trim the nails or how short they should be, keep these two principles in mind. The nails should not protrude over the pads of the dog’s paws, and they should not touch the ground.

When the nail is too long, walking can become awkward and even painful. Long nails can also contribute to hip and back problems, splayed or deformed feet, punctures that open the skin to infections, and bone trouble. Long nails can also begin to split or bleed into the pad of the foot. This will cause the dog to walk slowly, limp, or not walk at all.

There are two ways to trim nails: with a standard toenail clipper or with a dremel. A standard clipper works well, as long as the person is careful not to take too much off. If the clipper cuts to the quick of the nail, it damages the tender vein that runs through the nail. This will cause even more pain for the dog, along with some light bleeding. On the other hand, the dremel is a gentle sander that can round the edges of a nail without cutting to the quick. In light-colored nails, the quick is easy to see. If your dog has dark or black nails, you may want to use the dremel simple to avoid hitting the vein.

Of course, regular trimming should be part of your dog’s care since puppyhood. Yet if you adopted the dog when it was older, there may be an adjustment period as the dog becomes accustomed to the monthly routine. Dogs can often be frightened simply because they don’t know what to expect. Trusting the process to a professional at your local animal shelter or veterinarian may be the best choice simply because that person is skilled at calming down animals in distress. If you opt to trim the nails at home, make sure to involve someone whom the dog trusts, and reward his good behavior with a treat afterward.

Many dogs, especially younger ones, will wear their nails down simply by playing. Inactive or older dogs, though, will prefer to walk on grass or other soft surfaces, and their nails will not be worn down naturally. Check your dog’s nails periodically until you have a sense of how quickly they grow. No matter what your dog’s breed, lifestyle, and health history are, nail trimming should be a regular part of his care.

Author bio: This guest article was written by Eva Kettler, who often writes for LaPorte Animal Clinic in northern Colorado. When she's not writing, Eva enjoys renovating her 60-year-old house and making peach jam.

Doggy Play Dates: The Dos And Don'ts


As a parent, you know that your kids need to interact with other children so they receive the social development they need. This is why you set up play dates or enroll your child in school or activities.

Your dog also needs to learn how to interact with other animals, which is why it’s always a good idea to allow your dog to attend some doggy play dates or playgroups every now and then. Not only will your dog get the exercise he or she needs, but he or she will also have fun learning to play with other dogs.

As with any interaction, there are certain rules and general guidelines you should follow to ensure that the play date is successful. The following are common dos and don’ts for your doggy’s next play date.

Do: Have your dog current on his shots.

When your dog is playing with other dogs, it’s common that some roughhousing may occur, and your dog may become scratched or scratch the other dog. This is why it’s extremely important to be sure your dog is up to date on his shots and has all necessary vaccinations. If the other dog were to have a disease or illness, your dog would be covered from catching the disease or illness himself if their playing goes a little too far. Plus, since your dog will be spending time near the other animal, having them vaccinated and up to date on other shots will keep them from catching fleas or heartworm.

Don’t: Forget the water and treats.

Make sure that you bring plenty of water and treats for your dog (and the other dog) during the play date. Dogs will be spending a lot of time playing and running around, and they can become easily dehydrated if it’s hot. Make sure your dog and the other dog have plenty of water to consume on their date.

You will also want to make sure you have treats. This is a great way to get both dogs to listen to you during the play date, and it can be a great way to distract them if they start to misbehave.

Do: Give them room to play.

Doggy play dates are always more successful when there is ample room to play. Try to schedule the play date when the weather is nice so the dogs can be outside running through a yard, dog park or open field. When dogs are cooped up inside your home, their roughhousing may result in damaged furniture or injury to the dogs. If the weather is not cooperating, make sure you designate a large indoor area for the dogs to play that doesn’t have anything that could be damaged or cause injury.

Don’t: Ignore the dogs.

While you may use the play date as a chance to catch up with your friend or learn more about a new individual, it’s still important that you keep an eye on the dogs. It’s always possible that their playing may become too intense, which could result in injury to one (or both) of the dogs. Always make sure to pay close attention to the dogs and intervene if their play turns to aggression.


Danielle Nottingham is a vet tech and writer at who loves to write about proper pet etiquette for dog owners who are new on the scene.


Is Your Child's Behavior Dangerous To Pets?


My friend Linda recently told me that she has some concerns about how her son is treating their cat.  She said that her son locks the cat in cabinets, and plays too roughly with it.  I told her that most cats will tolerate some roughhousing, and then when enough is enough will fight back.  I suggested that she continue to put a stop to any mean behavior she sees, and keep telling her son that he must always be kind to animals.  I also told her to watch and see how the relationship changes when the cat decides she’s had enough, and her son comes crying with a bite or a scratch.  At that point things can go two ways, her son learns to treat the cat with kindness and respect, or he punishes the cat further, and if the latter happens, she should be very concerned.

It made me wonder though, when should a parent be concerned that their child has crossed the line between being rough with a pet, and being intentionally cruel.  If your dog or cat is ok with roughhousing, or being dressed up like a doll, you don’t need to worry.  You should always discuss how your child may be making your pet feel so that he learns compassion, and learns when to back off and give your pet a break.  Your pet is also very capable of putting a stop to harassment, though in the case of a dog, this could be dangerous.  Most dogs are incredibly tolerant of their human companion’s behavior, but if they feel frightened, their reaction can turn violent.

It is important that you put a stop to cruel behavior immediately.  Children don’t usually grow out of this kind of behavior, and the natural progression is that they move on to human victims.  Always set a good example in how you interact with pets to teach children to be compassionate and responsible pet guardians.

Watch For Signs

Signs that your child needs intervention to correct cruel behavior before it escalates:

If your child won’t release a pet that is struggling to escape or continues to chase it when it is obviously running away in fear.

If your child becomes more and more secretive about his cruel behavior after being told to stop.

Putting the pet in dangerous situations to terrify it, like dangling it out a window or over a balcony, locking it in a washing machine or dryer - even without turning it on, leading it out to the street.

Restraining the pet in any way, like locking the pet in a closet or cabinet to hear it cry in distress.  Tying it up near something that scares it like fire.  Binding it’s tail or paws tightly with rubber bands or string.

If your child appears to enjoy watching a pet in pain or frightened.

Obvious signs like cutting or burning a pet.

Getting Help

If discussing the problem with your child isn’t working, the next step is getting some professional counselling.  Talk to your child’s pediatrician about getting a referral to a counsellor or psychologist.  Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about getting help for your child, it is absolutely imperative that you put a stop to this kind of behavior to prevent it from doing permanent psychological damage to your child.  


Danielle Nottingham is a veterinary technician and writer at who often writes about bad pet habits, or bad pet-owner habits, and ways to correct them.


Your Canine Escapee - Understanding And Preventing


If your dog happens to be a runner, he will most likely get very creative when plotting his escape. Dogs that do exhibit the characteristics of a runner will escape by climbing the fence or digging an escape tunnel underneath the fence. Unfortunately, you may be harbouring your own little Houdini of the canine world.  Dogs can escape from their yard in any manner that they possibly can, and for a number of different reasons.  Understanding the cause of those daring doggy-breakouts goes a long way to curbing the behavior and keeping your dog safely within the confines of his own yard.

A well looked after dog does not run away from home because he is unhappy.  Any can feel the need to escape just to satisfy his natural instincts to explore his environment.  Sometimes, the boundaries of the yard and an occasional walk around the local park on a leash aren’t enough to satisfy the urge to investigate the smells and activity that are just beyond his boundaries.

Reasons your dog may try to escape your yard are:

  • Social contact – if your dog has been left alone for a long time, he may go looking for some company.
  • Search for a mate – entire dogs will do whatever it takes to get to a female in season.
  • Bored – a lack of play toys in the yard will encourage your dog to look for toys elsewhere.
  • Energetic – if your dog needs more exercise, he may take himself for a walk.
  • Separation anxiety – dogs with this debilitating condition will escape to search for their owner.

The problem for dogs, when they escape is that they have no concept of the dangers they may face in the wide world.  They have no understanding of the difference between roads and pathways, or the injuries they risk by stepping in front of a moving vehicle.  What does concern them however, are the distractions such as socializing with other dogs; chasing smaller animals, and raiding garbage bins in a quest for leftover food.  These positive rewards only reinforce your dog’s desire to escape, making it difficult to break the habit once it takes hold.  

How to Escape Proof Your Fence

Obviously, ‘plugging the leaks’ goes a long way to stopping the escapes, as does an understanding of the underlying causes listed above. Your fence may need to be reinforced both above and below, and any gates with loose latches will need repair. Move any items that your dog could climb on well away from the fence.

If you are struggling with your dog’s need to wander, there are several things that you can do to reduce the number of escapes, or even prevent them altogether. These include increasing the level of physical and mental stimulation through walks, games and interactive toys, providing clean and comfortable bedding, initiating regular feeding times with a well-balanced diet, obedience training to keep your dog’s mind active, and ensuring that all gates are locked and obvious escape routes blocked. If your dog is not neutered, then this would be a good way to reduce his efforts to woo a lady dog.

The sooner the reason for your dog’s escaping is identified and managed, and the more secure your back yard, the less you’ll have to worry about him. You will have peace of mind when you’re not home, knowing that your canine best friend is safe in your yard and not at risk of coming to harm.

Amanda Davis is a service dog trainer and a freelance writer. Amanda uses her love and talent for writing to share dog training and behavioral tips for dog owners.