Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nail Patrol

Although rabbits are categorized as self-cleaning mammals,
they do need help with their nails,
a nail that is too long can catch, break off and cause lots of bleeding,
or in extreme cases a broken toe.


For almost a couple months, twice a month, I've been volunteering at the Rabbit Haven adoption show trimming nails, cleaning scent glands and performing minor grooming. Free nails trims are one of the services that the Haven offers the rabbit community. Donations are welcome, but not required. Rabbit nails need to be trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks, though some rabbits need to have them done every month. It took me quite awhile to be able to trim nails on my own rabbits, they were good teachers. I have developed three possible holds for the procedure, depending on what the rabbit will let me do. My preferred hold is to have the rabbit on it's back on a towel, slightly cradled between my thighs. This is not trancing because the rabbit's head is not tilted back and it is not unconscious. The position is comfortable and calming for many rabbits. The hind legs of some rabbits shake. Holding the rabbits legs so they stop shaking will not make the rabbit less afraid. Shaking is not a bad thing, it is, in fact, a good thing. Shaking is a neurogenic reaction to stress or fear. It is the body's mechanism for releasing tension/trauma. In a stress and shaking study using chicks it was found that the chicks that were stressed and shook were more resilient to disease and subsequent stress than chicks that were not allowed to shake after stress AND chicks that were not stressed at all. Sometimes people shake too, you may have experienced this if you have had to do public speaking, given birth, or been in scary situation. It is possible to access our shaking abilities and shake out old traumas to our emotional and physical bodies, the system is call TRE and you can find out more by clicking HERE.

Harriet is comfortable and ready for her nails to be trimmed,
Amelia is also comfortable in this position,
Sydney likes to sit up like a baby in a lap,
and Tyler must be done with four feet on the lap,
this is tricky and takes much twisting on my part, but it can be done,
and he insists it is the only way for him.

When I clip nails I work more slowly than the other people who are on nails. Unlike others I cannot talk while I am working. In my case the rabbits can tell if my attention wanders and it's then they will squirm over. They are still teaching me, have no expectations, just sit in the moment and see what it brings, clip nail. This last week I worked on a rabbit for the second time, I've been doing it long enough that I get repeats! The first time I was warned that this rabbit was very bad for nail trims and had been just awful the last time. Her nails were very long, I presume her human had been avoiding the issue as long as possible. I introduced myself to the bun, and petted her for a bit, then turned her over on my legs. I tried to stay focused and calm, and let the bunny turn over when she wanted, which was after each foot, then turned her back over. When it was done I massaged her and told her she was good and beautiful and perfect. This time she over turned once, for the first paw, then was still and relaxed for the rest. Everyone was happy.

Amelia patrolling in the Blueberry Bunny Park.

14 comments:

Christine said...

I always get my bet to do it. They do a phenomenal job on Sammy's dark toenails, never made him bleed. Thank you so much for this important post from Sammy and me! Ear waggles!

Christine said...

Vet, not bet!

Jade said...

If Mick is in need of a trim when he goes in for his tooth-grinding, I have them do it while he's under (a bun in the hand is worth two in the bush, y'know), but otherwise I do it myself. His Majesty does not like being on his back for any reason, so my technique is to lean over him and lift one paw at a time. He tolerates this quite well for the most part, only occasionally snatching his paw away just as I'm about to clip the nail. His most extreme objection is to turn and grasp my hand in his mouth (this is NOT a bite or nip, he will actually hold my hand in his mouth briefly without clamping down), so when he does that, I will pause briefly and settle him down with some full-bunny massage before continuing. Treats and more massage are always provided post-trim as a reward for good behavior.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

C-yes, dark nails are tricky, you have to go by the shape and just plain good guessing!
J- ah, yes, that is the Tyler method! Many of the (smaller) buns do not like being on their backs.

speedyrabbit said...

I hate my nails being clipped so I struggle alot but dad does give me a peanut after,still hate it though.mum sometimes holds me while dad does it which makes feel a little better.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Harriet looks adorable in that photo, so cute with her little white mittens!

Crafty Gren Boyfriend was an expert at doing Anya's nails.

bunnits said...

Mine sit baby-style on my lap and don't object too much, but it is not the most fun thing for them, although they do get plentiful treats and snuggles afterward. The worst part is the difficulty in seeing where to clip the dark nails.

Rabbits' Guy said...

BL holds - I take aim, close my eyes and squeeze. So far, so good! Hate it!

You got a good scheme and plan.

SixBunnies said...

I don't know if I'll ever be able to clip bunny nails again ... a week or so ago, I cut Mr. Jamal's too much and he bled. He let out a little squeal ... A bunny squeal is not something you EVER want to hear. My heart broke ... forever.

SixBunnies said...

I had my baby's blood on my nightgown (was clipping nails before we all settled in for the night) ... will never be able to wash it or wear it or throw it away ... I can't stand to look at it, but I can't get rid of it ... haunts me.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

6Bs- gad, awful, my sympathies, I have heard the scream...and yes, breaks the heart. But remember he is OK, thank goodness for that! One day at the show I cut two rabbits too short and there was lots of blood, I felt awful, I'd never had a bleeder before....
BG- that's right gang up on the poor bunny.
B-good bunnies!!!
CGP-he is so handy!!
S-better than having to go to the vet, no peanuts there.

Bunny-Hugging Volunteer said...

Worst claws to clip - black rex. The short fur means they always look longer than they actually are and the black nails mean it's impossible to see where the toe starts. Have clipped too much off Jemima's a few times per the years (I swear she has one toe that's unusually long) and it always makes me feel sick to my stomach that I've hurt her. Now I always have wound powder on hand just in case!

d. moll, l.ac. said...

BHV-yes it's this weird thing that usually Rex's have one nail that has a long cuticle. Usually you can tell by the shape of the nail where the nail starts, but if they have kind of needle shaped nails , this is tricky. You can also squeeze the nail with the clippers where you want to cut and see if they react...

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