Author Topic: quicking nails  (Read 663 times)

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Online Kirsten

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quicking nails
« on: July 08, 2017, 05:18:49 PM »
So I've been trimming a friend's dog's nails because she quicked him and is now nervous about quicking him again, which he picks up on and the two of them spiral into concern over nails.  He's fine when I trim his nails because I'm not giving off body language that expresses concern partly because it's been a good long while since I quicked anyone and because I like this dog a lot, but I don't think of him as my baby.

So anyway, I've been trimming a few dogs other than my own and I've noticed something.  Especially when the nails have been allowed to become overgrown, they will tend not to be the same length on all toes.  This is because how the dog uses the nails can cause some nails to wear down faster than others and the quick recedes when the nail is worn close to the quick.

Some dogs will have longer "index" toe nails.  Some will have shorter middle toe nails.  Many will have long dewclaws, almost curled into a cheerio.  And if you try to trim all the nails off to the same length after they've gotten overgrown, you are very likely to quick them.

Why am I just noticing this?  Because I got a repeat customer who I trimmed just a week ago and two nails on one foot looked unusually long compared to the others and I thought I had screwed up.  But when I trimmed them again, I found they were still longer than the others when I was done and I made darned sure to trim them.  What's happening in my case is that I'm used to trimming them upside down, where I view the paw from the pad side instead of from the insole side.  I can see the crease in the nail that wraps around the quick and when I trim I can see where the quick is.  I nibble with the trimmers and take off thin slices until I see I am getting close to the quick and then I stop, no matter where that might be.  It's not so obvious from the bottom of the foot that this is resulting in some nails being noticeably longer than the others when viewing the nails from above with the dog standing normally on his feet.

So maybe there is an advantage to trimming upside down that I hadn't really thought about before.  I typically trim my dogs lying on their backs in my lap which is quite convenient because I can get their feet right up close to my face and get a good view of what I'm doing.  This dog I trimmed for the second time yesterday is highly skeptical of getting flipped on his back in my lap and I'm not his person (that position requires a lot of trust and practice).  So for him, I folded his paws like I would for cleaning out a horse's hooves and I trimmed them with him standing on three legs and me looking at the bottom of the fourth, folded pad upward.  It worked quite well.  This was a cooperative dog who wasn't trying to dash off when I told him to "wait" (he knows the word).  I did all four feet from the dog's left side.  I found it was easier to position my trimmers in my right hand over the dog's back than to try to shove that hand into the dog's side and still see what I was doing.  He agreed we could do it that way and it worked quite nicely for us.

For my mom's corgi, it's a different story.  He's not going to cooperate.  I've been doing his nails for YEARS and I've done counter conditioning, TTouch, tag teaming, etc., and what works for us is to muzzle him and then tuck his head under my knee and then plant my other leg up against his butt so he can't back out from under my knee.  He's restrained and can't get away, but I'm not applying enough pressure to make him uncomfortable, just to hold him sort of still.  Because when I quick a dog these days, it's usually because the dog jerked the foot unexpectedly at the last possible instant.  I understand he doesn't want his nails done, but they do need to be done for his own welfare (I get nothing out of it for me).  Overgrown nails stress toe joints and can cause arthritis and pain when walking.  Anyway, he's got one nail that has a quick that is longer than the rest.  I think it's because he's not getting trimmed weekly.  I'm willing to do it weekly, but since I don't live with him I don't get reminders to do it and my mom doesn't want to bother me.  :rolleyes:  I care about the little brat dog and want him comfortable in his old age even if it means being reminded once a week to trim his nails. 

So tips to avoid quicking:

1.  If possible, trim while viewing the nail from the bottom instead of the top because this makes it easier to see how close you are to the quick.

2.  Use sharp trimmers.  I think the bypass kind squeeze the nail less during the cut than the guillotine kind, but let your own dog be a guide to you as to which style works best for him.

3.  Take off a thin slice, examine and then trim another until you see you are getting close to the quick (the center of the nail becomes filled with white flaky stuff that is just starting to have something solid in it with a texture about that of the pink eraser on an old wooden pencil when you poke it with a thumb nail.  It kind of gives a little but doesn't just flutter into flakes.  The flakes are dead and you don't need to worry about them.  You can dig them out with your thumb nail to get a better view.  Anyway, many thin slices are better than one big slice.

4.  Teach your dog to tolerate nail trims so he'll hold still patiently.  Even if you have to do just one nail and then
let him rest before tackling the next, if you can convince him this is no big hairy deal so he'll be cooperative, his risk of getting quicked goes waaaaaay down. 

5.  If he needs to wear a muzzle and likes cheese, make note that easy cheese in the squirt can has a nozzle that will fit into his lips even when he's wearing a muzzle so you can squirt a dab of cheesy goodness as reinforcement, or you can squirt it on your finger and let him lick it off.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Ariel

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2017, 05:26:15 PM »
I highly recommend the red handled Millers Forge clippers. They take off teeny slivers, fit well in the hand, and thankfully don't cost an arm and a leg. They're cheaper than every other pair of clippers I've had and are by far the best.
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Offline polarmouse

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2017, 10:42:36 PM »
Thanks for the information Kirsten and the brand Ariel. Zoee has the non equal nail thing going on as well. She looks like she is flipping everyone off because of her long middle nail!  :tongue2: Have either of you used a Dremel type nail filer? Not the actual Dremel but a dog one? Just curious if they work well or not.

Online Kirsten

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2017, 11:02:22 PM »
I use a regular Dremel (not the dog one).  It has a more powerful motor, higher quality sanding drums, and doesn't have the annoying plastic guard that just gets in the way and doesn't really save me from the dust.  I do it outside, on the patio to avoid putting nail dust in the house.

What I typically do to speed things up is to trim first with the bypass trimmers, then Dremel off what remains for a nice smooth finish that won't snag on clothes or scratch my skin when someone decides to kick me in the middle of an exciting dream.  If I stay on top of trimming I can use just the Dremel, but if I'm trying to slowly recover over long nails or I'm trimming someone else's dog who isn't used to the Dremel, then I go back to my bypass trimmers.

Dremel down-side:
1.  DUST, really stinky dust
2.  It's loud and the noise can disturb some dogs
3.  The vibration can tickle or otherwise worry some dogs
4.  Long fur can get caught in the Dremel and tangled or yanked out if you aren't careful enough

Dremel up-side:
1.  While it's still possible to quick a dog with a Dremel, it's harder to quick with a Dremel accidentally than with a low-tech trimmer.  It's easier to tell when you are getting close to the quick and if you do quick them it's usually just a tiny pin hole that doesn't require styptic powder to clot.
2.  You get very smooth nails with no sharp edges.
3.  Because you can safely get a tiny bit closer to the quick (can be a bit more precise), you can cause the quick to recede faster to get overgrown nails back to a proper length a little sooner.

A tiny dot of baby oil rubbed in to the tip of each Dremeled nail will return them to their natural color (black nails turn grey when the surface is sanded, which is what a dremel does).
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Arrowcom

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2017, 01:39:34 AM »
Ohh, thanks for the post Kirsten! My first pet dog was one of those crazy Tasmanian devils who went nuts when I tried to trim his nails but he got better as time went on and my confidence went up. I trim nails  by feel of course, and though I am not comfortable going as close to the quick as those of you with sight do, I do use the methods you described, especially feeling the consistency of the nail and taking off small chunks. I quicked my last pet dog once or twice, but just barely and the bleeding stopped within a minute or two. He was a trooper and never made a fuss about it.
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Online Kirsten

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2017, 02:00:05 AM »
Everyone who does much nail trimming is going to quick a dog once in a while.  I've quicked every dog I've owned at least once.

So what do you do when you do actually quick one, other than stopping the bleeding?  What steps can be taken to prevent the incident from becoming drama that reruns every time you try to trim those nails?
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Punktestern

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2017, 08:43:03 AM »
So what do you do when you do actually quick one, other than stopping the bleeding?  What steps can be taken to prevent the incident from becoming drama that reruns every time you try to trim those nails?

Don't make a big fuss over it. If you start being upset over it, the dog will be too. If you stay calm, and reward the dog for staying calm, then it'll be much less drama. And then I'd probably go back to rewarding rather heavily for good behavior on the other nails just for a session or two to get that good association back up.
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Offline Arrowcom

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 03:51:46 PM »
Yeah. When I quicked Blitz's nails I would immediately  take a steadying breath and praise my dog for being such a good boy. Then I would pick him up and get a towel or somthing to put pressure on the nail. Then we would walk around while the bleeding stoped and I would happily tell my dog he was a good boy the whole time. As long as I didn't FREAK out or feal bad my dog took it pretty well.
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Online Kirsten

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2017, 04:19:18 PM »
I think it's also important to trim at least one more nail after the quicked one.  I'd trim it ultra conservatively to avoid quicking again.  My theory is that it's important not to end on a quicking, but to end on a successful trim.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Punktestern

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2017, 04:20:31 PM »
I think it's also important to trim at least one more nail after the quicked one.  I'd trim it ultra conservatively to avoid quicking again.  My theory is that it's important not to end on a quicking, but to end on a successful trim.

Yeah, that's a good point!
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Offline Arrowcom

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Re: quicking nails
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2017, 06:59:03 PM »
I agree, great point!
Accept the things you can not change, have the courage to change the things you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.