Nose, Eyes and Nail Care with Dr. R. Llera

 Dr. Ryan Llera discusses:

The Basics of

Nose, Eyes and Nails

(part 2 of a 2 part series)

When it comes to taking good care of your pet, several things that YOU can do at home can go a long way towards keeping your cat or dog in good health. Doing some of these simple things can also help cut down on veterinary visits which will keep your pet’s stress levels lower (unless they love visiting the clinic – we have awesome treats!) and your wallet happier. Regardless, even good at home care does not eliminate the need for an annual visit to your family veterinarian.

 Let’s be nosey

The very front of your fur-baby is one of the few hairless spots (unless you have a Sphyx or other type of exotic breed). In general, you don’t need to clean the nose but you may see color changes or texture changes on the surface of the nose. For some dogs, this could be a seasonal change or a breed related condition. On the other hand though, some conditions involving the immune system will manifest with changes in the nasal appearance so your veterinarian should be consulted.


Nose and Folds

In some breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, & other brachycephalic breeds, we have to deal with folds around the nose. Sometimes these folds will get dirty or retain moisture and can lead to infections so we do recommend cleaning them. A wash can be obtained from your veterinarian but I have also recommended using baby wipes, a wash cloth with mild dish soap, or if there is more greasy build up you can safely use human acne pads.


Maybe your pets stares into your soul with those eyes when you get ready to clean their ears or trim their nails.

Those eyes are not something I ever recommend anyone messing with.

They only get one set so it’s best not to self-treat.

cat eye

Scratch on the eye

Discharge from the eyes could be indicative of an infection or a scratch. Squinting is often associated with a scratch, which if not treated promptly, can hurt and may be difficult to heal, or in the worst cases can result in permanent damage. Other things to watch for are swelling of the eye or cloudiness of the cornea. Get to your vet as soon as possible if this is noted.


Oddly enough, I think more dogs & cats mind getting their nails trimmed than they do ever getting any type off needle or brushing of their coat. Some of the reason may be the restraint involved while other times they had a bad experience once and the quick, or blood vessel, was clipped causing bleeding & pain.

uncut nails

Long , untrimmed nails

If nails are left too long, they can catch & break off causing more severe pain,limping, and in the worst case, an infection. Again, like brushing teeth, I always try to get people to handle the feet of their puppy or kitten to get them used to it.

The clear nails are simple, just don’t cut into the pink part and everything will be okay.


Trimmed, black nails

But those black nails? Those buggers can be a problem. There are two tips to trimming these. First, I say make them flush with the bottom of the paw pads; the vessel typically does not extend past that. Second, start trimming a few millimeters at a time keeping perpendicular to the curve of the nail and if you look at the nail from an end-on perspective, you can start to see concentric rings like a target – STOP! You’re getting close at that point of the vessel. Give your dog a treat and maybe one for you (not from the same container though!) and then repeat in about 4-6 weeks.


Hopefully this has been helpful to do some simple things to avoid bigger problems with your pets. Your veterinary clinic can help you with a demonstration of these things – all you have to do is ask! But if your pets won’t cooperate, we’ll always be there to help!

Leave a comment if there’s anything else you are looking to find out more about.

Check out Dr.R.Llera on his Facebook page or read his blog to learn more about the day in the life of your Veterinarian.

Author: Kelly Harding

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  1. My dogs have really long cuticles so it appears that their nails need to be cut but they don’t. Thankfully, we don’t have too many problems with nails breaking off (although it does happen). Having a general awareness of your dogs daily health definitely helps. Thanks for giving us some things to think about.

    Besos, Sarah
    Journeys of The Zoo

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  2. Well now this was very educational. I had no idea you could use baby wipes on a dog. That’s an eye opener. Literally in some case. Thanks.

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