a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Get Them Toenails

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Get Them Toenails

Dogs' toenails grow. (Duh.) If they get too long, they can become painful to the dog when running or--for agility dogs--for things like descending a steep A-frame, jumping, and so on. Too-long nails are more likely to catch on things and possibly bruise the toe or even tear.

Remington and Jake never needed their toenails clipped at the Hacienda House. I thank our super-long asphalt driveway for that; we played fetch and did agility stuff like going through tunnels on the driveway, a lot, all the time, and that, I believe, kept the toenails down.

After we left there, however, the toenails started becoming obviously long. I hate using the various nail-clipping tools. No matter what kind of adjustment they provide, I often end up clipping down to the quick in the toenail (think of cutting or ripping your fingernail into the area where it's attached to the skin). It hurts them. It bleeds, although styptic (?) power seems to stop the bleeding quickly.

Friends introduced me to using a Dremel tool to sand away the toenails, and I like that, because I can go in increments and it's much harder to damage the quick. It didn't take long for Jake and Remington to accept the Dremel--I just gave them goodies as I brought it closer and closer to them and briefly touched their toenails and so on. Tika took slightly longer, being a little less accepting of touching her assorted personal parts (that would be any part of her, really...)

Boost has not been agreeable about getting gradually used to it. It worked fine up to where I actually touched it to her toenails, at which point she'd go nuts. After several days of trying to get past this point, and getting periodically scratched by her needle-pointed nails, last time I just settled her in my lap, held her firmly, and just did it. She struggled mightily and I just kept working at it. Every time I managed to get a bit of grinding done on a toenail (and we're talking maybe half a second to a second--it doesn't take much for toenails that tiny), I'd give her a goodie or two and praise and pet and snuggle. She held quite still for that part.

It was a mighty struggle, although eventually she relaxed and let me do the last several toenails without a struggle at all.

So I figured we had it figured out, right? Ha ha ha. It is to laugh. This morning I did Jake's and Tika's nails right in front of her crate, giving them and her goodies after each nail. Then I settled her into my lap, gripped her firmly, touched the Dremel to her toenail--and she went ballistic. It probably took 10 minutes of trying to hold her still long enough in a way that wouldn't hurt her but that still allowed me to make progress on her nails. And every nail she fought fought fought.

To her credit, she never bit at me. I'm quite pleased about that. However, because I was wearing my bathrobe, I ended up with dozens of scratches from sharp toenails all over the inside of my leg. Yowtch. Time to plan on not sweating for a while... And then, finally, for the last four or five nails, she waited quietly while I did them, and then was reasonably quiet while I went back and touched up some that I had done a bad job on while attempting to hold a wildly wiggling 20-pound pup firmly.

So has she accepted it yet? Next time shall tell...

I'm definitely thankful, however, that all of Boost's toenails are clear (white), so that I can see where the quick is inside! 16 of Jake's 18 are black; what a challenge.

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