Caring for Your Labrador Retriever - Other DetailsKeeping your Lab clean and brushed is only a small part of the body care he needs. The rest of the grooming chores can be done when you brush your dog, or you can set up a separate routine for them. Just make sure you remember to do them regularly. Don’t forget!


Each time you brush your Labrador Retriever, you should check his ears for dirt and wax buildup. Because the Lab’s ears are folded down (called drop ears), when his ears get wet, they may stay wet. Bacteria, wax, and dirt can build up and cause infections. If the dog’s ears have a sour smell or seem to be extremely dirty, or if the dog is pawing at his ears or shaking his head, call your veterinarian immediately
To clean the ears, fold one earflap up over the dog’s head so the ear rests on the top of his head. Dampen a cotton swab with witch hazel and gently clean out the ear, getting the swab into all the cracks and crevices of the ear. Never put anything down the dog’s ear canal. You may want to use two or three cotton swabs per ear, especially if the ear is dirty. Leave the ear flap up for a moment or two so the inside of the ear can dry. Then turn the dog around and repeat on the other ear.


If your Lab has some matter in the corners of his eyes, just use a damp paper towel to wipe it off. It’s just like the sleep matter you sometimes have when you wake up. However, if your dog has a different type of discharge, or his eyes are red and irritated, call your veterinarian. Get him into the vet right away if you see a foreign object—such as a grass seed—in his eye.
If you start when your Lab is a puppy, keeping his teeth clean can be easy. Take some gauze from your first-aid kit and wrap it around your index finger. Dampen it and dip it in baking soda. Take that baking soda and rub it over your
dog’s teeth, working gently over each tooth, the inside and the outside, and into the gum line, taking care not to hurt the dog.
The rubbing action of the rough gauze and the chemical characteristics of the baking soda will help prevent plaque formation and will get rid of the bacteria that form on the teeth and gums.
Do two or three teeth and let your dog have a drink. Then work on a couple more. You may even want to break it into several sessions, doing half or a quar¬ter of the dog’s mouth at each session.


Your dog’s nails need to be trimmed regularly, preferably once a week. If the nails get too long, they can actually deform the foot by applying pressure against the ground, causing the toes to be pushing into an unnatural position. Long nails are more prone to breaking and tearing, too, and that can be as painful to the dog as it is when we tear a long fingernail. However, if the nails are trimmed regularly, you can keep them short and healthy.
There are two basic types of nail clippers. One is shaped much like a pair of scissors, and the other has a guillotine-type blade. The scissors-type can be found in a large size that will cut the Lab’s larger nails.
With your clippers in hand, have your dog lie down on the floor in front of you. Take one foot and pull the hair back from the nail so you can see the entire nail. If your dog’s nails are black, you won’t be able to see the quick, which is the bundle of nerves running inside the nail; but if your Labrador Retriever has one or two white nails, you will be able to see the pink quick inside. When you trim the nails, if you cut into the quick, the nail will bleed and your dog will cry. The quick is just like your nail bed and hurts just as much if it is cut. So trim the nails just beyond the quick.

Common Sense
A healthy Labrador Retriever should have a shiny coat, clean ears, and short nails. The dog shouldn’t smell or be offensive in any way Use your common sense when grooming your dog. If you are unfamiliar with a shampoo, dip, or other grooming product, read the label. If you are worried a certain product might be too harsh or might be dangerous to you, don’t use it on your dog. If you have questions, call a local groomer.

If your dog has a white nail, you can use it as a guide in determining how much to trim. However, if all your dog’s nails are black, you will have to take it a little slower. Look at the nail’s shape. It is arched, and if the nails are long, there is a slight hook at the end. You can safely trim that hook without cutting the quick. Then, very carefully, take off just a little more.
Obviously, you will know when you hit the quick—you’ll feel guilty because your dog is crying and bleeding. Don’t panic. Take a bar of soap and rub the nail along the soap. The soap will clog the nail for a few minutes until the nail can clot. Now, while the soap is in the nail, hold that paw and look at the nail you cut. How far did you go? Trim the other nails using that one as a guide but tak¬ing less off the rest.
Many dogs dislike having their nails trimmed. Some will whine or cry so much you may even think you have cut into the quick. Other dogs will try to escape from you, fighting and wiggling. If your Lab dislikes nail trimming, try to make it as pleasant as possible. Have the nail clippers at hand, but hidden, perhaps in your pocket. Have your dog lie down in front of you and then give him a massage, slowly and gently. When the dog is relaxed, touch one of his feet, also slowly and gently. Then go back to massaging, then touch his feet again. By doing this, you are showing him that touching his feet is painless and is followed by more massaging.
When your dog will let you touch his paws without reacting, have the nail clippers in hand as you massage, then trim one nail. Trim just one, then go back to massaging. When he is relaxed, trim one more. And so on. If your dog is very frightened of nail trimming, you may want to break this down even further, doing one paw per massage session.


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