DEAR JOAN: Twig is a 5-year-old male mixed breed, weighing 18 pounds. He can’t stand having his nails trimmed.
He needs to be sedated at the vet. The vet tried to trim them once, and Twig got scared. His heart rate went up and he pooped. The vet said that’s why he needs to be sedated – it will cost an extra $200.
We’re doing that for Twig, but do you have any other suggestions? Can his dewclaws be removed too? They grow very fast and turn inwards.
— Janet Sereno, San Jose
DEAR JANET: Ask your vet about using a sedative that takes the edge off, rather than full anesthesia, in conjunction with a Thundershirt — a weighted jacket that mimics swaddling and is meant to comfort the dog. The problem can also be the location of the nail trim. Pets can get agitated in the doctor’s office, so having a zookeeper come to your home can do wonders.
In the meantime, work on getting Twig used to the nail clipper or grinder. Start by getting him used to having his paws touched. Start at the shoulder and work your way down to his leg. Then gently massage the paw and touch its nails. Speak in a reassuring voice and praise him for accepting the contact. If he pulls away, wait until he calms down and try again. You will have to do this several times a day.
Once he allows you to touch and manipulate his paws, pick up the clippers while he’s with you. Try not to use them, but click on them a few times and then reward them with a treat and a compliment. If he saunters, don’t praise him, but don’t scold him either. Keep trying until he discovers that the sound of the clippers means a treat.
The next step is to gradually bring the clippers closer to your dog. Sit on the floor with the clippers next to you. Pick up Twig’s legs and gradually bring the clippers closer to him. If he’s okay with this, try keeping the clippers on his paws and rewarding him with praise and treats when he allows.
The next step is the actual cutting. Once Twig is comfortable with the sound and feel of the clippers touching his paws, give it a try. Start slowly and don’t force it. You may only be able to trim one toe a day, but that’s progress.
Dewclaws in dogs should not be removed. They are equivalent to human thumbs and big toes. Removing them can cause pain and cause problems with the spine and balance.
DEAR JOAN: My husband and I have a mature dwarf Meyer lemon tree in our front yard. It produces hundreds of beautiful lemons every year.
This year we made a mysterious discovery: some lemons, including those still attached to the tree, are completely and carefully peeled by some critter. There are no visible peel residues and the remaining fruit has not been bitten. It remains perfectly peeled, hanging from the tree.
Do you have any idea what animal could be “flaking” our lemons? Please let it be a cute animal; the thought of rats makes me shiver.
— Christy, San Jose
DEAR CHRISTY: Put on a sweater. Your lemon zest is a rat, although I’m sure it’s a very cute rat.
Although the Meyer produces a sweeter pulp than other lemons, rats still prefer the lemon peel and are adept at eating the peel without leaving a trace.
Animal Life runs on Mondays. Contact Joan Morris at [email protected].