Canine Hygene

Yesterday was hygene day at my house, every week I cut nails, every month or so I get the hemostat and the dental scraper out. I am a very "do it yourself" kind of gal, always have been. I know there are many people out there who would never consider doing these types of things on their own but once you decide to do it and give it a whirl it really isn't difficult. Trust is probably the biggest issue, your dog must trust you.

Nails are a breeze, I start this when they first come to live with us. I work hard to put a positive association on nail cutting right away. I don't think there is any dog out there that likes to have their nails cut so you have to make it worth their while to stand still for a few moments and let you do it. I always treat afterwards a really good treat and I still treat even now when my dogs are 7, 10 and 11. They know the routine and they know there is a jackpot at the end. I also make sure there is alot of attention and affection given during the activity so it is quite enjoyable.

As I said in a previous post, we just moved and we now have wood floors which don't hold up to freshly cut nails. This means I now have to file after cutting and we are working on this new feeling.

If you have a dog that needs to have hair plucked from their ears you know it is a constant battle. There are several thoughts on plucking ears, take it all, don't touch it and somewhere in between. That is where I am about plucking, I take enough to let air in there. I have seen what happens when you don't take any and when you strip the ear raw, not good either way.

Both my poodles sit quietly, even Luke who took much longer to get use to this than Tilley. They don't want to have their ears plucked and it takes quite a while to get them to come over and get comfy beside me. I get out my glasses, sit on the ground in the sun so I can see perfectly and get to it. It is very important to pull only a tiny bit out at a time otherwise it hurts them. And if you have ever used hemostats you must be extremely careful as they can pinch badly. I have to admit they are really great dogs and it amazes me that they let me do it. Of course Jessie doesn't need to have her ears plucked, there is nothing in her ears but some occasional dirt.

Now, as far as teeth scraping goes this is more of a challenge. It is a very weird feeling for the dogs and they must be accustom to you messing with their mouth. To keep my dogs teeth clean I give them what I call "flinstone bones" big leg bones from the butcher. They must be given raw so there is no chance of splinttering and they work like a charm. A couple of hours nawing on those babies and their teeth are pearly white.

But there are spots that need scraping so I do that. I do not believe in "teeth cleaning" at the vets if you can avoid it. Of course there are times when it must be done but if you clean your dogs teeth on your own you can get around it most of the time. Being put out for anything is dangerous and I know my dogs would not let someone else clean their teeth when they were fully awake.

You must be gentle and get them use to the scraping feeling a little at a time. Once they see that you are not going to hurt them you can give them a good cleaning after a couple of sessions.

Its all about trust.


  1. Sherri,
    Nice site!

    I use a penny held between my thumb and finger to clean my dogs teeth as needed. The copper is soft enough to not do damage and tough enough to get the scale. The bones do the rest.

    As you have stated "it all is about trust" on the part of the dog.

    Good luck with your site.


  2. Nice entry. My one standard poodle Grizzly, lets me do nails, ears and teeth without a single complaint. He is a breeze and always has been. Now my 6 month old SP Jiggs, is another story. He hates the ear plucking, won't hardly let me look at his teeth, and he's nervous about the nails even though I've never hurt him. He is improving though. I'll have to get more consistent with the treats/rewards when I do it, like you do with your dogs.

    I too have used a penny to do a little bit of scaling.


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