Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Importance of Routine Nail Trimming Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Gracie Narum


One of my calls today involved a beautiful white and black long haired female chihuahua named Gracie. She is a pampered pet and quite the diva.  However, as in the case of many dogs and cats, she has not willingly allowed her owners to cut her ultra long toe nails. She has managed to get her way by whimpering and squirming her way out of  a nail trim each time anyone in the family attempted the procedure.

My mother happens to be visiting me this week so I enlisted her help. We “adorned” her longish nose (the dog, not my mother) in a muzzle and wrapped her in a towel. I then proceeded to  cut Gracie’s nails being careful not to cut into the “quick” which is actually blood supply to the nail and looks like a teeny red line growing in the center of the nail.  As I became increasingly more aggravated with my mother’s efforts to hold “Ms Wiggle Worm” I told my mother to switch places with me.

I need to back up a bit here. Each step of this process was explained to the owner and of course my Mother just had to put in her two cents. She further explained that when a pet is being difficult you just keep quiet and try not to repeatedly say” good boy/girl” or whatever. If praise or soothing words are offered it only reinforces the bad behavior. The logic being that your pet believes that you are praising bad behavior so your pet continues to “act up.”  Offer a tasty treat that will provide a distraction while you are cutting the nails.

The very last nail that needed cutting was a dew claw. It was extremely long and had grown  in a big loop all the way back  into the skin and pad,  causing the area to become very painful, infected, and malodorous. I had to work really fast so that I could cut the ingrown nail that probably  was contributing to little Gracie “acting out.”

I prescribed Clavamox, a fairly broad spectrum antibiotic, which little Gracie will  need to take twice daily for 7 days.  I instructed her owner how use a surgical scrub to cleanse the area, dry the area, and then apply Bactoderm (antibacterial) ointment for 7 days. Further instructions included how to give the tablet in those dandy Pill Pockets which smell and taste delightfully good ( to the dog or cat, of course)  and come in various sizes that can be purchased at most pet chain stores.

The lesson of this little case : get your puppy or kitten familiar with having it’s feet and nails touched. Begin cutting your pet’s nails at a young age so that this necessary act is not something to be feared.  After you have cut the nails, then reward your pet with a treat. Continue this little chore at least every 4-6 to weeks and you can cut the nails at home and save your self a vet bill and trauma to your pet.

Post by Yvonne Daniel  co-author Dr. Lisa Daniel