Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dremel Your Dog's Nails- Why Didn't Somebody Tell Me About This?

Paisley's PeticureImage by PaisleyPitbull via Flickr
I was watching TV the other day and saw an ad again for a device called Peticure. Like all good made for TV products, they told me about my problem and how terrible and unbearable it was and then tried to sell me on their solution.  The difference in this case was I actually hate clipping my dog's toe nails.  I'm not really a squeamish person. But, the thought of clipping a dog's nails actually give me chills.  Peticure was supposed to be the answer to that problem.  So, I checked them out.  Along the way, I made an amazing discovery, something I wish someone had told me years ago.

In doing research on whether the Peticure is a worthwhile product, I ran across the fact that people have been using a Dremel on their dogs' nails.  My first thought was "This is nuts!  Using a power tool to trim my dog's nails."  But, I read on and actually found a site that gave great detail as to why this an easier and better way to trim your dog's nails.  With Zoe, my 60 pound flat coated retriever, Ty and I have trimmed her nails a couple of times using the guillotine clippers (which I just learned are probably the worst ones to use).  But, it's a struggle.  So, I pay the vet to clip them.  The last time I had her there it took three of us to get her done and we still didn't get the back ones.  She yelped squirmed the whole time.  Her nails are very big, very hard and they splinter when clipped.  I kept thinking there has to be a better way.  
I am extremely skeptical when it comes to made for TV products. My mother has ordered enough for me to have learned that 95-99% of them are junk.  And, I thought, if this thing is so great, why arent' vets and groomers using it?  So, I wasn't about to order the Peticure without doing some research.  What I found is while a couple of people complained about the quality of the construction of the product, just about everyone who tried it talked about how well it worked and how the experience of trimming their dogs' nails had become so much more pleasurable.  I always put off getting Zoe's nails trimmed so they are usually long, sharp and curved.  Even taking her to the vet and having the "professionals" do it was unbearable for both me and for her. The thing that turned me off to the Peticure was their business practices.  Many people complained about waiting weeks and months to get their product.  I just visited their site and at least does say it will be weeks. Running my own internet business, I know people don't read.  So, maybe they didn't see that or maybe Peticure just put it up recently. But, I wanted to get started right away.
After checking out a detailed web page on dremeling your dog's nails, I went to where I was going to purchase a Dremel kit designed for trimming dog's nails.  But, after seeing the reviews there I found the sanding drum that comes with the kit is probably too small for Zoe (it's only 1/4" diameter).  So, off to Lowe's.  I didn't find the right Dremel at Lowe's.  Everything they had there was too powerful or just overkill in terms of price and attachments.  I wound up at the dreaded Wal-Mart (yeah, I know- I hate Wal-Mart!).  But, in a moment of weakness while searching for a rare light bulb, I dropped in and found a 4.8V Dremel for under $20.  It spins at 5,000 and 10,000 RPM.  Given that the Peticure was $50 plus shipping (the advertised price of $29.99 is for the "petite" model), I figured I'd give the Dremel a shot.  I started out on the low speed and with the sanding drum that came with it (a little rough).  I learned that the low speed actually seemed to cause more vibration and bothered Zoe more than when I kicked up the speed.  Also, based on the recommendation of this site, I switched to a 120 grit sanding wheel (finer).   That made the whole experience smoother.  I see that the medium sized Peticure is more powerful than the Dremel and it spins faster (although they caution you not to turn it up past a certain level).  Frankly, I didn't want a lot of power in the tool.  One thing you have to be careful of when doing this is heat build up from the spinning wheel.  It doesn't take a lot of torque to drive that little wheel and the more pressure you apply, the more heat you're going to build up.  I've found the 4.8V is plenty powerful to do the job.
I tried it on Zoe last night.  At first, she was not at all happy about anything near her feet.  Zoe is about the most gentle and trusting dog in the world.  She'll let me do anything to her. So, since she hates having her nails trimmed so much, I know there must be some serious discomfort there.  I began by just introducing her to the tool.  She has no problems with being scared of noise.  But, when I began touching it to her nails, she did pull back. I think that was instinctive rather than from any real discomfort. Plus, at the lower speed and with the rougher wheel, the tool did create quite a bit of vibration.  I then turned the tool off and just spent a while playing with her toes until she got comfortable with me handling them and realized I was not going to do anything to hurt her. 

This morning, I called Zoe over to me and showed her the Dremel. She didn't run away.  Good sign.  I turned it on and began.  This time at the higher speed and with the smoother sanding band.  At first she squirmed.  But, I firmly laid her back down and started again.  She'd lay there for a while, then start getting fidgety and gently nipping at my hand or the Dremel.  I'd set it down, lay her down again and start again.  After just a few minutes, she was completely relaxed and I completed all four paws.  The first time I decided not to push it and didn't take her nails nearly as short as the pictures I had seen.  I wanted to make sure it was pleasant experience for her.  But, I did take them shorter than we've been able to clip them.  They are nice and round now.  
The one thing that looks nice about the Peticure is that it does have a safe guard on it.  I think this catches dust and prevents the grinding wheel from catching in the dog's hair.  Since, I (should) keep Zoe's hair around her feet trimmed anyway, the fear of catching the hair was actually incentive for me to trim her feet up.  So, I did that before I started.  There is some dust created from filing down the nails.  Of course I don't know how well their dust catcher works.  But, the dust is not unbearable. Since I got my Dremel for $20 and zero waiting, I'm happy with what I've got.  The Peticure might be better.  But, for me, this is a light years ahead of that stupid guillotine clipper which hit the trash can this morning.
I wish someone had told me about this years ago.  So, I'm telling you now.

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