Current Topics- Long nails and scared pets

Developing the Peaceful Pedicure

~ By Dr. Jennifer Miller

Do you have a pet that resists and resents having their nails trimmed? We see many animals that do their very best to escape the efforts of people determined to help them. At times attempting a nail trim can make a fearful animal react defensively- which is not a pleasant experience for anyone or any animal!

So why do we care about trimming nails anyway?

– Long nails can curl inward and cut into the pad of the foot, creating infection and pain.

– Long nails decrease the area of grip on smooth flooring, which can predispose your pet to slipping and injuring themselves.

– Long nails can snag on carpet and furniture, which can lead to wrenched joints and occasionally even broken bones!

– Long nails scratch people and furniture- which does not a happy household make.

Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs (and more) require frequent nail trims and while there are plenty of cooperative animals out there… we see a certain amount of tentative and downright cranky pets who would rather perform acrobatics across the clinic than allow a pedicure. If your pet is one of these, take heart and know it can get better!

We recommend that time and desensitization techniques be used whenever possible. Our goal is to utilize frequent treats, visits, and other positive rewards so that each nail trim is a bit easier. This can be jump-started at home (even if you are a little leery of cutting the nails yourself).  You can begin to condition your pet to happily accept his or her paws being touched and grasped.

Below is a video used (with permission) to help show owners how a fearful dog can be desensitized to having his nails trimmed. We have done this many times with our patients (and even our own pets) and encourage everyone to consider this approach to helping a fearful pet become a compliant (and happier!) patient.