In more southern states there is a real over population of dogs and cats; that is why they have kill shelters. To try and help these animals, the owner of my work started transporting liters of puppies, kittens, and a few adult animals for us to adopt out. We have had many liters come and go and it is a bitter sweet moment for us workers.
We help the little ones grow and its hard not to get attached to our favorites. We’re really happy to see them get a home, but you also miss them once they’re gone. Especially the really sweet adult animals we get sometimes. We had an older German Shepard come once named Chief. He was so thin, but just the best dog and he has an insane backstory. I don’t remember the specific state he lived in, however he lived with a homeless man, who had a bunch of other dogs with him to kind of use as blanket of warmth. I feel for the man, but I am glad they got Chief out of that situation. He always listens, always wants love, and would never hurt anyone. When he went to a home we were all very happy for him and also very sad that we weren’t going to see him everyday. The good thing is though because we are an animal hospital, we do sometimes get to see our adopted friends when they have a check up.
It is incredibly hard though when we have animals stay with us for a long time because no one is interested in them. A lot of people come in with such specific requirements they want in a dog or cat that they pass up on some the sweetest ones. All of them have a unique story just like Chief and all of them deserve a chance at a real life. There’s been so many that have come through that I said to myself “If I had my own house I’d adopt you right now.” We just love them so much and want the best for them so it’s really hard when they go for a long time without someone wanting them. Puppy mills are terrible and I won’t get too into it, but I just hope one day that they don’t exist for the sake of many dogs. That is why though I will always preach “Adopt don’t Shop”.
For this weeks post I’d like to talk about nail trims. I’d like to give a “how to” with some tips and tricks I’ve learned from working at an animal hospital. I’ve done many nail trims on animals with many different temperaments. I am not incredible at it, but I can do it. They may need to be done pretty regularly depending on how active the animal is. Dogs that walk on tar a lot wont need them as much as a dog who is only carried. Waiting too long can result in nails that are painfully growing in their toe pad and very difficult to cut.
A quick is blood vessels and nerves in the nails of most animals. They vary in length and will bleed if the nails are cut too short. In clear nails you can the quick as a pink triangular shape in the nail. Black nails are tricky because you can’t see the quick until you actually start cutting. If you are using clippers you usually stop cutting once you see a black dot in the tip of the nail. An electric filer is an excellent way to avoid hitting the quick and getting the nails very short because of the slower process of having length shaved off until you see the dot. Now if you do hit the quick we use a thing called “quick stop” which a special powder you press into the bleeding nail to congeal and stop the blood, but flour also can work to stop the bleeding.
Easy cats you can just hold the cat and grab each paw and expose the nail and clip it. Almost always cats nails are clear and they have shorter quicks so they are easy to clip. Difficult cats can still be done, if you have someone to help, one person can hold them by the scruff (back of the neck) which basically demobilizes them. A trick we use a lot is wrapping a cat in a towel and sitting with them on your lap and pulling each paw out and doing them. That way they can’t bite or scratch you and you don’t need a another person to help you.
Dog nails vary a lot because they can be clear, black, long quick, short quick, or even having a mix of all four on one dog. Some dogs are super easy and will just sit in your lap while you do it. Others may try to fight and or bite you. We get a lot of wigglers who don’t want their nails done, but also don’t want to try and bite you and in that case it just takes another person to help you. We usually hold dogs close to our bodies with one arm under their belly’s close to the back end and the other arm under and around the neck and head. You could also try to distract the dog with a toy or some treats while you do the nails. Its easiest to fold the paw in the joint so you can see the bottom of the nails better. If the dog has trouble balancing on three dogs you can lean them on you so they can stand while you clip.
It can be stressful situation for both you and the animal. The last thing we one to do when clipping nails is stress the animal out too much especially older ones. That is why we try to make it not such a forced activity and try to use more distraction methods. Its stressful for me because I don’t ever want to quick the animal and hurt them. You want to take as much as you can off, but you also can”t too greedy with the cutting.
Fractious cats are cats that feel threatened by you and may try to attack you. We encounter a lot of this type because we get feral cats brought in by animal control often. Feral cats are born in the wild and do not trust humans the way domestic cats do.
Now we have to take care of these cats, we can’t just let them starve or be in a gross cage forever and it can be a scary task. Most will just try to stay as far from you as possible while you take items out and replace them. Some however go on the offensive and will try to claw you. I have a few ways to avoid injury while dealing with these animals.
One is we have big thick leather gloves that they can’t puncture; therefor keeping the skin safe and sound. Using the gloves can be hard though because they are so bulky it can be a challenge to pick and put down items. However I’ll always get a kick out of the look on the cats face when they try to bite or scratch me and I don’t back away.
Two is if the cage is big enough you can put a carrier or box in facing the opposite direction of the door. Most of the time the cat will go in and stay in there while you try to clean the cage. This is only effective though if the cat does not leave the container to come after you.
Three is if you know the cat likes treats you can try to distract them by throwing some treats somewhere they can’t get you from. With this though, you got to be a little speedy cause they can mow those treats down fast and then attack.
A final way is if you have some type of board that you can hold in front of the cat while you clean. This immobilizes them a little and helps to serve as a block from their attacks. I use this on really difficult cats who get messy very easily.
There is no perfect method to dealing with a fractious cat, but you have to be very careful no matter what. When a cat is in attack mode they could lounge for your face/head and that is not fun. A coworker of mine once was attack from above and she had to get many stitches on her head. They most likely will never be your friend so you just got to make sure they have everything they need to live and not get hurt in the process. Feral cats are usually release back into the wild after they’ve been fixed and we doc their ear so animal control knows.