Liam has incredibly long toenails, and I struggle to keep them clipped short. That's a problem, as I've mentioned, as many people who see his photos on my blog write in to tell me that I'm falling down on the job as an at-home groomer.
I've used clippers on Liam's toes for years (and I wrote about that here), but I've been trying something new, and I really like it. Here's what happened.
A few years ago, when I was going through the great clipping debate with Sinead (who will NOT let me cut her toenails), I bought a grinding tool to help with the job.
The theory is that dogs don't like traditional clipper tools because they pinch the nail before the cut. That pinching can make a dogs feel uncomfortable, and they'll pull right before the cut. That's the sort of thing that leads to injuries, and once a dog has been injured with clippers, it's hard to get that dog to trust clippers ever again.
Grinding tools, on the other hand, are made to just wear away the nail with no real pinching. There's vibration, but that seems to be something dogs will tolerate.
I tried it on Sinead, and she absolutely would NOT let me use it. So the tool got stuffed in a drawer. But a few weeks ago, I found it and wondered how Liam would feel about it.
Clearly, he's not totally in love with this whole thing. He looks quite unhappy, in fact. But, he doesn't wriggle or struggle or move as much as he does when he sees the clippers. And midway through a treatment, he seems to grow resigned to the whole thing. He just sort of sits back and waits for me to get it over already. So I'll consider that a win.
Grinding tools come with some precautions. For example, the little metal rotor that the grinding object sits on is spinning at a very fast pace. Long dog foot hair could get caught on that moving part, so dogs with long hair pads on their feet might need a trim before the grinding begins.
Also, the tool can grow a little warm to the touch. That means you need to work quickly and swap toes on a regular basis. By moving from toe to toe, friction heat doesn't build up and it doesn't become uncomfortable for the dog.
As always, too, it's vital to watch the approach of the quick. The little pink part of a dog toenail is the part that bleeds, and it will bleed if you grind away too much toe tissue. So I try to do the work in front of a bright light source, like a sunny window or a desk lamp, just so I can make sure I don't cause harm.
I'd love to say that this girl has learned her lesson and will let me grind away at her nails, too. But so far, I've had no such luck. She watches Liam's toe trimmings very carefully, and she inspects his toes when we're done with the work. Sometimes, she even lets me grind one or two of her back toes. But that's as far as we can go. For her, groomers are still the preferred toenail cutters.
If you've used a grinder tool (like a Dremel) on your dog's toenails, I'd love to hear your comments. Did it work? Do you love it? Hit me up in the comments.