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Can't trim nails due to anxiety


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Our GSP is nearing 12. Due to arthritis he's not running around as much so he's nails are getting long.  We used to be able to trim them ourselves when needed, but lately he just won't allow us to do it. we tried different clippers etc, and even took him to the vet for the nurse to try, but after one clip he understands whats happening and just gets upset. We got sedation from the vet (a dose of gabepentin at night and then again the next morning) but it did absolutely nothing and as soon as he saw the clippers he was off.  I really hate the idea of having to give him aneasthetic at the vets for nail trimming but Im at a loss as to what else we can do?

He's had a big year with illnesses and new baby and new puppy in the family (not in our house but in our family) and being somewhat of an anxious dog he had a lot to cope with so I really dont want to stress him more, but he' going to have to have them done soon.   I even tried a human nail file and he wouldnt let me do that either. 

Any suggestions? 

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Can you even just do ONE ? even if it takes a month...they'll all get done in time to do them again ..... Perhaps there is a dog acupuncurist vet somewhere who may be able to help ? Poor old lad ....:( 

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Posted (edited)

I sooooo feel your pain. My old boy has always been difficult but now he'll only behave for the vet although he doesn't need sedating, he just won't let me do it anymore. He kicks and twists and it feels like he's rather me break his foot!!!

Because of his diabetes we can't do that peanut butter trick (edited - don't do this!! ) or bribe him with threats.

 

You could always ask it be done under a quick whiff of gas. One of my fosters had to be done that way and he woke up fast afterwards. 

Edited by Powerlegs
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Posted (edited)

Poor boy. :kissbetter:

Here are a few more considerations:

 

1. Tweaking the situational anxiety medication and making sure the arthritic pain is also being adequately covered. There are a number of other situational anxiety meds that can be prescribed if the first one didn’t help or sometimes the dose or timing just needs tweaking.

 

2. A training plan to systematically change how he feels about nail trims. His anxiety and pain needs to be covered to progress with this. Nail Maintenance for Dogs Facebook group has units you can work through. I have a couple of friends who specialise in cooperative care and who do zoom consults if you’d like a trainer to help you (likely to be faster).

 

3. Every time nail trims are forced the fear worsens. Hence working at the dog’s pace, getting meds right, and if it becomes urgent doing them under actual sedation or anaesthesia at the vet in the meantime. 

 

4. You can enlist the help of a Behaviour Vet if need be.

 

5. Diva mentioned the scratch board. My only consideration with this is making sure the movement doesn’t flare up his arthritis.

 

This podcast episode might interest you https://www.animaltrainingacademy.com/podcast/training-tidbits/lori-nanan/

Edited by Papillon Kisses
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14 hours ago, Powerlegs said:

Because of his diabetes we can't do that peanut butter trick (where they lick it off your forehead, it's on youtube) or bribe him with threats.


Just in case anyone thinks to try this please, please don’t. Many people have copped nasty bites to the face by copying this viral video. No one thinks their dog will do that but all dogs can when fearful and pushed/lured beyond their comfort zone as is happening in the video.

 

Instead of this we want to use systematic desensitisation and counter conditioning (not to be confused with bribing). If you have a canned diet your guy could eat you can try baking it in a pyramid/dot mould pan or tray. This is what we do for Malcolm as he’s on a very low fat prescription diet.

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15 hours ago, Powerlegs said:

that peanut butter trick (where they lick it off your forehead, it's on youtube)

I agree- that is just asking for a fear-induced snap!  :(

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Go talk to your vet .

if the dog is that bad they may be able to lightly sedate with gas .

tablets don’t stop the thought process and often increases the panic more .

 

I would opt for GA the risks are there no matter what .

Long nails cause pain,the stress off fighting the nail trim can increase heart ache or seizure in old dogs 

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4 hours ago, Dogsfevr said:

tablets don’t stop the thought process and often increases the panic more .


This can happen if something like acepromazine (ACE/ACP) is given. ACE is a chemical straight jacket with zero anti-anxiety effects, so the dog is just as panicked but can’t move = more panic over time. I’m guessing that’s what you have seen. Actual anxiety medication calms the brain so that learning can better occur, but it can take some time to determine the best fit for the individual. We found some meds or doses made Malcolm more anxious and others had no effect, but we got there in the end.

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1 hour ago, Papillon Kisses said:


This can happen if something like acepromazine (ACE/ACP) is given. ACE is a chemical straight jacket with zero anti-anxiety effects, so the dog is just as panicked but can’t move = more panic over time. I’m guessing that’s what you have seen. Actual anxiety medication calms the brain so that learning can better occur, but it can take some time to determine the best fit for the individual. We found some meds or doses made Malcolm more anxious and others had no effect, but we got there in the end.

Actually seen it with plenty of meds not just ace and there not a quick fix for nails hence why I would sooner GA an oldie than some meds ,

Anxiety meds won’t perform a miracle without behaviour modification so a dog shit scared off nails will still be without a lot of pre work .

 

For a 12 yr old dog I would just go simple .

 

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Anxiety medication and behaviour modification are not quick fixes, but if you don’t want to be doing multiple GAs for the rest of a dog’s life then a holistic approach where you get nails done under sedation/GA when needed but address the pain and work on the anxiety outside of these times makes sense.

 

I’m sorry you have seen some dogs worsen with medication. It sounds like they would have benefited from having their medication, behaviour modification and management plans reviewed, as the right medication/dose for the individual will not have the effect you describe.

 

I know this comment probably won’t change your mind and that’s fine, we can disagree. I am commenting for anyone following along because too often people fear anxiety medication for themselves or their pets when it saves and restores lives. I’ll make one further point also that when things do go wrong, the vast majority of the time it’s a vet without any training in behaviour medicine who has done the prescribing. (I’m not suggesting the vet has done anything bad in this instance).

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Posted (edited)

thank you. Im going to ring the vet to book him in. he's had a some run arounds on pavers with the weather being nicer and the nails are "fraying" and splitting so I just need to get it done now I think. Edit to add, the nurse mentioned cauterisation, which I am assuming means cutting them really short and cauterising the quick?  Wouldnt this be painful afterwards? Should I ask for this NOT to be done or is it unavoidable if his nails are too long?

I so dont want to put him under any more stress. I dont know what to do for him. I feel awful about him having an anaesthetic

Edited by fiveplusone
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I must admit to thinking along the same lines of the nurse. No idea how much it might hurt afterwards but you have to balance out increased pain for ? hours against more often GA/extreme anxiety. I'd certainly be asking for more info.

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It is very painful. You’d want very good pain relief on board. I’m unsure of the point where positives outweigh negatives, although nails puncturing paw pads or causing structural deformities would be two. The alternate cut method has receded Malcolm’s quicks if that is helpful to know.

 

https://susangarrettdogagility.com/2013/08/cutting-your-dogs-nails-how-important-is-it-really/

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I've booked him in. I asked about the cauterisation. They said they do it if they need it, and that they are given pain relief along with the sedation. I asked if they come home with pain relief and nurse said they dont need it.  I feeling very anxious about it but I dont think I have much option. 

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To be honest it isn’t as painful as what some will make you think cutting back short and in the scheme off pain/discomfort long nails hurt just as much .

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

He had his nails done Friday and although being super groggy all day he's bounced back great.  I got them to take blood as well for his screening tests before we see the specialist vet for his anxiety.  Ironically, he was totally fine with them taking blood without any sedation etc, but panics if you try to cut his nails *sigh*

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