Several years ago, my dog, Buster, came limping into the house with his foot bleeding. A visit to the vet determined that he had an injury to his toe, which ultimately required amputation.
We’re not exactly sure what happened, but as a precaution, I tried to make sure the professionals trimmed and filed his nails every time we had cause to visit the vet’s office to prevent them from catching and tearing.
In between those visits, I trimmed them, but I did so in fear of splitting a nail and having him lose yet another toe. Buster was so well-behaved that the job should have been easy, but his nails were black, and it was difficult to tell where it was safe to cut.
Annie, my parents’ Tibetan spaniel, didn’t like going to the vet and got very stressed out, even on routine visits. So when my mother mentioned that Annie’s nails needed clipping, I volunteered to handle the job. By breaking a treat into tiny pieces and giving her one each time I made a cut, I could usually trim the nails without too much drama. And since most of her nails were pale, I figured I would be able to tell where the quick (the pink section containing a blood vessel and nerve) was so that I could avoid cutting too close.
Oops. A yelp and what seemed to be a lot of blood followed my miscalculation; but as bad as I felt, a treat or two got me back in Annie’s good graces, and pressure on the nail with a paper towel stopped the bleeding.
Things I learned from this mishap ... First, always clip less than you really want to. It is better to clip a little bit of nail frequently than to clip too much nail less often.
Secondly, I need to get some styptic powder so that the next time it happens (and it probably will), I can more easily stop the bleeding. I’m told flour or corn starch pressed onto the nail works almost as well as styptic powder.
Thirdly, I learned if you get blood on something through which you can run cold water, it works great. But if the blood is on your mother’s carpeting, try dabbing the blood with hydrogen peroxide. You might want to first test the peroxide on an inconspicuous section of carpet to make sure it is colorfast, but in my experience, the blood came out completely with no loss of carpet color.
If you choose to try clipping your own dog’s nails, first get him used to your touching his feet and nails. Then talk with your veterinarian, vet tech or groomer for advice on the best tools and technique. Note to self: Call the vet’s office in the morning to make an appointment for Dexter’s mani/pedi.
— Pets and the People Who Love Them is brought to you on behalf of your friends at the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter. To adopt a dog or cat, please visit www.limestonepets.org to view available animals and fill out an application. Call 256-771-7889 to make an appointment to visit the shelter and meet your new best friend at 1701 U.S. 72 (behind Limestone Veterinary Clinic).