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How to Take Care of Your Pet's Nails

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Should I Take My Pet to the Veterinarian?

When to take your pet to your veterinarian:

  1. Broken toe nails. If your dog breaks or completely tears off a toenail he needs to see a veterinarian.   Each nail encompasses a bone and when the nail tears off then that bone is exposed.  This requires medical attention.
  2. Abnormal nail beds or nails. Infections can cause swelling and or discharge from the skin around the base of the nails, or cause the nails to grow abnormally.  The infections can be bacterial or yeast or a combination of both.   Also there are many other diseases of the nails and nail beds that can occur and will need a veterinarian to diagnose.
  3. If you see a toe nail penetrating a footpad.  It will need to be removed, cleaned, and the pet usually needs antibiotics to prevent the possibility of infection.

Many pets dislike having their feet touched and their nails trimmed. Owners worry that they may hurt their pets especially if the pet struggles when having their nails cut. This is probably why many owners take their pets to their veterinarians or groomers to have this done. If you are thinking of trimming your pet's nails at home, there are a few steps that might help you.

Start by touching your pet's feet gently when you and your pet are in a relaxed mood, perhaps when both of you are on the sofa watching television. Get your pet used to your touch: handle their feet, spread their toes and extend their claws. Start with very short sessions, perhaps just a few seconds and then give them a treat or play with them.  

There are many types of nail trimmers. Your veterinarian or groomer can help you select the trimmer that is right for you and your pet. Avoid nail grinders: they tend to over heat and many pets dislike the vibrating sensation on their toenails.

Don't try cutting off large parts of the nail. Start with small short cuts. Nails that have not been trimmed recently will often have an extended quick. The quick is the part of the nail that supplies blood to the growing part of the nail. Cutting through the quick is painful for the pet and the site can bleed profusely. It is easy to actually see the quick in light colored nails: it is a darker color (often appears to be pink), in the center part of the nail towards the nail bed. 

Always have supplies on hand in case the nail does bleed. Kwik Stopâ„¢ is a yellow powder available at pet stores that helps to stop the blood flow. Take a good amount on a cotton ball and press into the end of the nail and hold for a minute or two.  Once the blood stops, don't disturb the clot at the end of the nail for at least 24 hours.

Cats have different nails than dogs, but may need their claws trimmed too, especially as they age. They don't really sharpen their claws, they shed their nail like a reptile sheds its skin. They scratch to remove this outer layer of the nail and this reveals a new sharp tip.  Older cats sometimes stop scratching and their nails can become so long that they curl around and pierce their foot pads.

Dog nails can also become so long that they interfere with their ability to walk and can pierce their footpads. This is often missed until the pet is limping, especially with the dewclaws on long-haired dogs. Therefore, you should regularly monitor the nails of all your pets.

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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