Check out the Michigan Humane Society blog on Mondays to see common veterinary questions answered. If you have an immediate medical concern with your pet, please call your veterinarian! If you have a non-urgent question you would like answered on the blog, you can comment here or email us at mail(at)michiganhumane.org.

“If cats are strictly indoors (do not go outside at all) what vaccines should I keep current?”

Indoor cats have a much lower risk of contracting diseases, but still require protection.  The rabies vaccine should be kept up-to-date.  Rabies is a very serious, fatal disease and presents a human health risk as well.  In case your cat escapes, or in the event a wild animal gets in your home (this has been reported with bats and other wildlife), she should be vaccinated for rabies for her protection and for yours.

Another vaccine that should be kept current is often referred to as a distemper vaccine.  This vaccine is often abbreviated HCP, and protects cats against three serious viruses including the feline herpes virus, calicivirus and panleukopenia.  These viruses can cause respiratory and gi issues, and have the potential to be fatal.  Kittens should receive a series of vaccine boosters against these viruses and adult cats should be kept current.  In the event your indoor cat needs to go to a groomer, boarding facility or if she ever becomes ill and needs to be hospitalized, keeping her up-to-date on this vaccine will protect her from these potentially serious diseases

Other vaccines are given based on a cat’s lifestyle.  Your veterinarian can discuss with you the pros and cons of these vaccines.  Many vaccines are no longer given yearly, depending on the product used.  It is still important to have your indoor cat examined at least yearly by your veterinarian.  Dental disease, heart disease, and subtle weight loss (or too much weight gain!) are just some of the things that can be detected by an exam.

“I want to know how to cut a dog’s nails property. My dog’s nails are black and I have cut too close to the quick before, which is no fun for the dog or me!”

Almost anyone who has trimmed a dog’s nails has probably had the unfortunate experience of cutting too close to the quick. And it hurts! There are a few things you can do to help make the process easier.

First, gradually get your dog used to having his feet handled. You can play with his toes, hold his paws and offer treats and praise. Start this early with puppies and make it a fun, stress-free experience. Once you think your dog will tolerate a nail trim, gather all your equipment and pick a quiet comfortable area. Make sure you have a clean soft cloth and styptic powder (available at most pet stores) on hand just in case you cut a nail too short. Pick a position that is comfortable for your dog and for you, and trim just small amounts (approximately 2 mm) at a time. After each cut, examine the nail in cross-section. The center of the nail will start to look lighter in color the closer you get to the quick. Once you see this (it looks a bit like a bull’s eye) you should stop cutting.

It may help to cut darker nails more frequently, just removing the tips at each trimming. Also, you can contact your groomer or veterinary hospital and arrange for a nail trim demonstration.