Friday, February 18, 2011

how to dremel a dog's nails

Griffin is normally a sweet charmer, but take out the nail clipper and he turns into a biting terror. In Manhattan, we'd just take him to the local Petco for a trim - best $10 we could spend. He was also going out with a walker every day, and the asphalt really wore the nails down. In Brooklyn, we use daycare pretty regularly, so no chance for natural filing. His nails click when he walks, and I'm afraid he'll have foot and leg problems down the road. The final straw was when we attempted a trim with a guillotine-style clipper (apparently the worst kind to use, oops)...he bit, he flinched, we clipped the quick...blood all over the white slipcovers! After a little research, I decided to try a Dremel tool, and so far it has been a success! A few lessons learned:

1) Unless you have a bigger dog, you'll want a Dremel with lower speeds. I bought this version, with only two speeds of 5,000 and 13,000 rpms. I've read that the MiniMite is good as well, but its lowest speed is still 10,000 rpms.

2) HIGHLY recommend a rechargeable model. This thing powers down quickly, and I can't imagine how many batteries you'd have to go through with another model.

3) This Dremel guide seems to be THE definitive internet source for how to trim a dog's nails. I also watched a few youtube videos for guidance.

4) Griffin gets very suspicious of new things that make sounds, so it was critical that we introduce the dremel slowly. We began by letting him sniff it, treating him as he did. Whenever he napped, we would place the Dremel very close to him. Next, we started turning it on and off, treating him each time. We also worked on his 'paw' trick (he gives us his paw when asked) and would quickly touch the sanding block to a nail or two. We did all of this over the course of one week. Even now, I always follow this sequence: ask for paw, treat, touch dremel to nails, treat, turn dremel on, treat, ask for paw and begin to dremel nails, treat after paw is done.

5) One thing the above guide doesn't tell you is how to hold the dremel with respect to the nail. It should rotate towards you, no matter how you are holding the paw. I hold the paw and gently press on each pad, which pushes the nail out a bit, before proceeding.

6) Be super careful if your pup has long fur, as it can get caught in the spinner. You can pull old pantyhose over the paw, poking the nails through, to avoid ripping the hair out.

7) Don't spend more than a few seconds on each nail. A quick swipe or two, and then move on to the next. You'll know you are on the nail too long if you get a burning smell.

8) Griffin's front paws are easily done while he is sitting. The back paws are more difficult. The best way we've found is by having him lie on his side. Either Husband will feed him treats, or I'll catch him when he's really sleepy.

9) The guide recommends trimming every 4 days if you are trying to get the quick (the blood vessel inside the nails) to recede. This seems like a good rule. I typically do the front paws one day, and the back paws the next, then repeat in 4 days. I'm hoping he will come to expect the dremel as a normal part of his grooming routine, along with the brushing and teeth cleaning.

We honestly never thought we could handle G's nails! If you are at your wit's end, give the dremel a try!

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