How to keep flies off your dogs

In order to get rid of flies for good, you will have to treat both your dog and the environment he lives in.

Keeping your dog clean and healthy will go a long way in making him less attractive to flies. A dirty or matted fur coat will attract flies, while certain skin conditions and diarrhoea will worsen the problem even further. Regular baths and brushing will help keep your dog’s coat in top condition. If your dog is having diarrhoea, take him to the vet for examination and treatment and make sure to keep his perineum (rear end) clean during his recovery – you may need to wash the area or even consider clipping the surrounding hair if it is very long and troublesome. 

Flies are also most active during the hottest parts of the day – consider keeping your dog indoors during these times

Flies often target the ears to make painful wounds, which in turn attract even more flies. You can use some saline or dilute chlorhexidine to clean the wounds and apply a suitable ointment or repellent. Make sure the preparation is safe to use on your pet – your local vet shop or pet shop will be happy to advise you in this regard. As a general rule, never use dog preparations on cats – most of these preparations contain pyrethroids, which are toxic to cats. Also avoid any human products, essential oils or garlic (tasty for us but poisonous for pets). Some of these sprays can even be used on your dog’s bedding or resting areas – apply as often as required. Fly strips and fly traps may also help draw the flies away from your dog.

Remember that flies are scavengers – they are constantly looking for a meal in which to lay their eggs and continue their life cycle. Thus the best way of getting rid of them for good is to remove their food source, which means maintaining good hygiene in and around your home. Clean up all the waste in your yard, including food, faeces and half-chewed bones (though you shouldn’t be giving your dog bones), clean out your rubbish bins regularly so they don’t overflow and keep your dog’s food and water bowls clean. If you have a compost heap, keep it covered.

Certain herbs also repel flies in addition to being useful in the kitchen – consider planting some basil, bay leaf, mint or rosemary in your garden. Other herbs, such as lavender, sweet woodruff and tansy also repel flies while being nice for people.

Products you can use to repel flies include ExSpot, Shoo-Fly Ointment, Shoo-Fly Spray and Vets Own Repellent Shampoo.  There are many more and you can get these from our online shop.

How to trim a dog’s nails

Most dogs don’t like having their feet touched and clipping their nails is sometimes stressful to both the dog and owners alike. For this reason, it is always a good idea to get your dog used to have his feet touched and handled from an early age – spend a few minutes every few days touching or stroking his feet and even introducing the clippers without actually cutting the nails.  Make sure to follow these sessions with lots of praise and even some treats. 

What you’ll need:

  • Good restraint
  • A pair of clippers
  • Lots of praise or a tasty treat for afterwards

Some dogs are happy to sit on your lap while you do the trimming, but in most cases, it’s easier to have a helper hold your dog for you – you can’t make an accurate cut on a moving target. 

There are several types of clippers on the market, with guillotine clippers and scissor clippers being the most common. The scissor-type is easiest to work with and can be bought at most vets or vet shops.

Salon Grooming Guillotine Clipper

Salon Grooming Nail Clipper

Choose a time when both you and your dog are feeling calm and content – remember that dogs are experts at picking up on how you are feeling and quickly become stressed if they notice that you are impatient, stressed, in a rush or otherwise dreading it – already not a good start!

Similar to your own nails, a dog’s nails also consist of the nail and the quick. The quick is the pink part that contains the blood vessels and nerves of the nail – if your dog has light-coloured nails you’ll be able to see the quick.

So how do you go about it?

Once you are ready, have your helper hold your dog for you and hold one of his paws firmly but gently in your non-dominant hand. Use your fingers to gently separate the toes to make clipping the nails easier. Hold the clippers in your dominant hand and clip the nail below the quick, taking off small increments each time. Aim to cut the nail 2-3mm below the quick. If the nail feels spongy, don’t cut – you’re probably cutting the quick. In most cases, you’ll be able to trim the nail to the level where the clipper starts lying flat against the footpad.

Always remember to cut the dewclaws as well, if your dog has them. The dewclaws don’t contact the floor surface at all and thus don’t get worn down like the other nails – if they are left to grow too long they will eventually start growing into the pad, which is painful.

If you cut the quick it will be painful to your dog and it will bleed. Keep in mind that it always looks more dramatic than it actually is – no dog has ever died from a nail cut into the quick. It is much the same as cutting your own nail into the quick. If this happens immediately give your dog a tasty treat and use an earbud or piece of cotton wool to apply pressure to the bleeding nail – the nail will stop bleeding within a few minutes. Even though you feel very bad about it, try not to dwell on it or make a fuss of it – your dog will pick up on how you are feeling, think that something very bad happened and develop a negative association towards having his nails trimmed.

Always give lots of praise and treats so that your dog associates nail trimming with good things. 

Many dogs are drama queens when it comes to trimming their nails – if you are struggling in any way don’t hesitate to contact your vet. He or she will be happy to show you a few tricks or even trim the nails for you.