Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nail Trimming

Nail trimming for our dogs has always been a problem.  We put it off as long as possible because they ALL hate it!  We hate it! And since our dogs don't need professional grooming, and are never sick (knock on wood) so only go to the vet once a year for shots, we grapple with this issue ourselves. We have a total of 76 nails to clip, every month or so! I may hate doing it but feel very guilty if I don't.    It's like, when their nails go clickety-clack on my linoleum floors, it's a 5000 times a day reminder of my woeful neglect of my dogs.  Then I also feel guilty forcing John to help me.  I can't win. Why do essential things have to be so hard?

Maxie is the least problem.  He submits to the torture. His dew claws were removed so he has 18 nails and I keep them trimmed.

Willow, also with 18 nails, fights me all the way, but I've learned to tuck her hind feet along side me in my big arm chair where she can't thrash my hands away.  This takes care of her front nails.  Then I block her in the hole with my arm across her face and chest, and do her back feet.  She cries like I'm killing her, and if I don't catch and do her first, she runs and hides under the bed when she sees the clippers come out.

Fooh Fooh and Lucky are a different issue.  They are 50 lb dogs, strong, they growl, they wiggle furiously, froth at the mouth, and they can bite!  I bought a muzzle that fits them both, which takes care of the biting.  Yesterday we tried putting each one on the dining room table (rather than the bed).  John was able to get a much better grip around their neck and torso, and in no time I had all 20 nails clipped on each one.  Hallaluah!  Why did it take me 10 years to figure this out???????

After nail trimming, they immediately get an extra special treat -- a jackpot!  They love that and seem to forgive me for torturing them.  I usually fix myself a stiff drink!

Have I tried the Pedi-Paws, you might wonder? Of course.  I have one.  Tried getting them used to the noise, the vibration, etc., but never got even close to a single nail.  Have I tried tranquilizers?  Actually, yes, once, but I don't want to tranquilize my dog for 2 hours for a 3 minute nail clipping job.  I may actually try Children's Benedryl next time on Fooh and Lucky.  But I don't really believe in drugs if I can find another way.  Have I desensitized them from puppyhood to having their feet held and touched, their pads separated and massaged.  Of course, I ain't stupid.  Have I tried calming massage therapy.  Oh yes. They can take hours of that bliss, but run off the second they see the clippers.

Fooh Fooh is now very pleased with himself that his nails aren't clickety-clacking on the floor and spreading his toes apart.  I am very pleased that Lucky's nails are blunted.  Her nails stay rather short because she digs a lot, but they get really, really sharp, and she has ripped holes in my shorts and raised whelps on my legs, even cut the skin when she jumps up to greet or play tug with me, John or visitors.  It hurts, and makes us less inclined to boisterous play with her.  And John and I are mighty pleased with ourselves to have found a better way to get this essential task done.

I wish our dog club could sponsor someone -- a groomer or vet, perhaps -- to demo how to do this properly -- explain the structure of the nails, the nerves, the blood vessel that sometimes bleeds even if you only take off the tip, and best practices.  Then again, I doubt the library would let us bring in a real dog to a meeting.  There has to be some easier way for dog owners everywhere to learn this skill.  We've actually seen some dogs with nails so long they curl around on themselves and the dogs can hardly walk.  It's a very serious issue.

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