Ask A Vet - Help! I Can't Cut My Dog's Nails

My Dog Won't Let Me Cut Their Nails - What Should I Do?

I have a rescue dog who is very nervous about men & strangers, but she will not let me near her to clip her nails or put drops in her ears if I take her to the vet. will they give her an anaesthetic or is there some method, of calming her to allow treatment, I have 2 other rescues who have no problems with it. I have tried blindfolding her, or someone else holding her, but not often as I live alone, but she will have none of it goes ballistic and last time snarled at me. Her nails really need clipping but I am scared of a big bill from the vet if she has to be given an anaesthetic.

Can you offer any advice? Thanks, Theresa


Dear Theresa,  Let me just start by thanking you for taking on rescue dogs, it's something I would definitely encourage people thinking of getting a new dog to consider. Some of these dogs have really suffered in the past and can have behavioural issues although most - like your other two can have no such problems.

Building trust in these dogs is something that takes time and needs to be done slowly. We need to gradually increase her acceptance of the things she finds scary currently and if at any point she gets scared then we need to stop - or we risk making the problem worse. I would start by getting her used to having her feet touched, then the clippers out, then the clippers on the nail without cutting, etc. All done slowly and with positive reinforcement as you go.

With regard to going to the vets, they will be used to dealing with patients who don't appreciate them! It is worth seeing how she copes with a visit for her nails first as it may not be anywhere near as bad as you fear. If it is too much for her then there are many forms of sedation including some milder herbal ones that may prove effective, especially in conjunction with your desensitisation program.

If she did need full injectable sedation this time around then that shouldn't be too expensive (Around £50 in our clinic including the clipping) and would really help to make her more comfortable.

 Advice from Adrian Caunter, BVSc BSc PgC SAS MRCVS

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