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How do I get over the fear of hurting my buns/animals in general?

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rpuckett

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I have always been around animals, and been the person people call on when they need help training a dog, catching a stray, or really any sort of situation. I have been helping my mother in law with her dog, who has a myriad of behavior issues as far as training and diet. My MIL is in poor health so I have also been periodically bathing and going running with the dog just to help out. Recently she asked me to cut his toenails as they are quite overgrown. It was definitely not my first rodeo as I cut rabbit nails all the time with no problems, and at least somewhat regularly help others in nail trimming for dogs/rabbits/things with nails. She bought a nice pair of nail clippers with a safety guard and everything. So it took me and two other people, the dog on a leash and restrained to even get a hold of his feet to see what was going on. Which is an improvement because he used to snap at you if you touched his feet at all. Anyways, I digress; I was able to trim a bit off of each nail on the front feet, but when I got to the back foot, things went to h***. I snipped a bit off on the nail and the dog cries out, my MIL freaks out, the dog starts bleeding from the nail (It wasn't gushing, but you know nails can bleed a good amount if you hit the quick). And I am keeping it together on the outside, but now I am freaking out too. The general consensus from the family becomes that I must not really know that much about animals, even after I explain that if the nail is overgrown sometimes the quick is out of place in the nail. The dog is fine of course, quickly forgets about it and stops bleeding.

That story is all well and good, but now I am so scared to cut my buns nails. I keep overthinking about the dog, and how I felt confident in what I was doing and hurt him (even if it was just for a minute/something minor.) And now the rabbits are a bit overgrown and it is just getting worse, because the longer they get, the more afraid I am going to hurt them. It seems so dumb even just typing it out. I have been cutting their nails for 5 years, and trimming rabbit (and dog) nails for years before that. Why did this shake me up so bad, and how can I overcome it so that my buns don't have to live with long uncomfy nails? Also, someone else tell me their stories so I don't feel completely insane about all this.
 

BrokenMermaid

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You're not insane! I too am one of those animal people. If people need help with an animal, they know they can count on me. It can be a pet, a wild critter, or even a scary animal that nobody is sure what to do about. I have rehabbed squirrels, birds and rabbits that are wild and often want nothing to do with me. I have endured snake bites and had a decent chunk taken out of my cheek by my parrot brother. I still get nervous about clipping certain animals nails. My sugar gliders specifically have really tiny nails and one of them always get very freaked out by the whole thing, and her nerves totally make me nervous. And you're right, when you do accidently cut the quick, which often happens on an animal who hasn't had their nails done regularly because the quick does move, even though you know they'll be fine it's still nerve wrecking! It's hard to come back with confidence but remembering that you are capable is really the key. Accidents happen, even with the most practiced people, and it doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing. My rabbit used to wait until the last second and then move his paw, even though I knew he would do it I still cut too short a few times. I told myself that each time was a lesson, and it was definitely better than him having overgrown and hurtful nails. I knew that I loved him and I had faith that I could use that love to do what was needed. I didn't do it around anyone who would say criticisms to diminish my confidence. I always took calming breaths and focused before approaching him, and kept Quick Stop Powder near by (it's a powder which can be used to stop the bleeding quickly). I still use these same steps with my gliders, who are now much better than they used to be. Once you do it you realize it wasn't really as bad as you feared, and it gets easier and easier. Don't feel bad that this got to you, we don't really control what does or does not affect us, or even know why, you're still a caring person who is good with animals, you're just a little shaken. :D
 

Azerane

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You can also use the "squeeze, squeeze, clip" technique. Which is basically positioning the clippers, and giving the nail two squeezes without cutting the nail, if you're badly positioned over the quick, your bunnies will react from the pressure to the area and draw their paw back. This means you can reposition (there'll be a slight mark from where you squeezed the nail so can move in front of that), then you squeeze again to check and if they don't withdraw you can clip the nail. :)
 

stevesmum

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We've all done it, don't beat yourself up about it. You were trying to help. And be sure to tell your family that they can surely handle it on their own from now on if that's their consensus!
 

rpuckett

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Thanks you guys, that does make me feel a lot better. And I will definitely be adding the squeeze, squeeze clip method going forward, especially on the bun that has dark nails. I had never heard of that before, but it does make total sense. You guys all rock!
 

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