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Thread: Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

  1. #1
    Cavy Slave MerryFriarTuck's Avatar
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    Question Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

    Sorry for starting a new thread on this since I know it's come up before--- I searched old posts but couldn't find everything I wanted to know addressed!

    My Friar Tuck is just fine with having his front nails trimmed; he finds it irritating but usually lets me do both feet in one go without a huge fuss. He's always been a lot more nervous about the back feet, but also lets me do them... until now. This time around he's decided it's Not Going To Happen

    Of course, it's Not Going To Happen if he has a say in it, and I regret to inform him it Has To Happen before they get too long...but I feel bad about it and need help making it the least traumatic as possible.

    Friar Tuck is a rescue and still really doesn't like getting picked up and held, especially *held in place* held when getting his nails trimmed. He's very squirmy and if he starts to squeak it shatters my nerves and makes me feel terrible.

    Question 1: can piggies get so scared they'll have a heart attack like rabbits? I know it's probably a silly fear but I can't get it out of my head. Question 2: I know wrapping him in a "piggy burrito" would help with the squirming, but would it also keep him calmer or just scare him more? Question 3: what's the best position to hold a really squirmy piggy in for nail trimming? I've seen all different methods; "piggy burrito", upright in a sort of sitting position, piggy on table against your chest. I like piggy on table against your chest because Friar Tuck is most comfortable and with all four feet on the ground but I'm not sure. Question 4: is it better to tough it out and do all the nails at once, or if he really starts to freak call it a day and do the rest later? Question 5: should I back off unless the nails get really long and see if he comes around? Like I said, I've trimmed his back nails before, four times, and all this fuss is new.

    I'm not worried about the actual "how to cut the nail" part, we have lots of pets and expierance with that... just worried about holding him and traumatizing him.

    Any help, input, or experience people have had with scared rescue piggies is greatly appreciated!!!

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    Administrator bpatters's Avatar
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    Re: Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

    Is there anyone to help you? To hold the pig and apply the carrot to his mouth?

    If so, have them hold him with his back against their chest, one hand under his bottom, the other across his chest and holding the carrot (or other favorite food). You should be able to trim them quickly.

    IMO, it's better to do them all at once and get it over with. And no, don't wait until he comes around, because he likely won't.

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

    Quote Originally Posted by MerryFriarTuck View Post
    Question 1: can piggies get so scared they'll have a heart attack like rabbits?

    Question 2: I know wrapping him in a "piggy burrito" would help with the squirming, but would it also keep him calmer or just scare him more?

    Question 3: what's the best position to hold a really squirmy piggy in for nail trimming?

    Question 4: is it better to tough it out and do all the nails at once, or if he really starts to freak call it a day and do the rest later?

    Question 5: should I back off unless the nails get really long and see if he comes around?

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    Cavy Slave spy9doc's Avatar
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    Re: Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

    Sorry for the double post. I ran out of time editing the previous one.

    #1 - Don't worry about a heart attack. Sounds as though you're the only one at risk.

    #2 - The burrito method is the only one that has worked for me. Securely roll him up in a hand towel with just his feet exposed. Covering the head seems to calm them a bit, not scare them more.

    #3 - Using the burrito method, I'm right-handed, so the piggy is in my lap against my abdomen, head to my left with all four feet on my lap. The left forearm restrains him against my body while the left hand exposes the toes and holds the individual nail. The right hand does the cutting. Sparky hates having his back nails done, so I have to really restrain him while doing them. He will kick and thrash and wail.....this is the time for "tough love". You aren't hurting him so don't feel guilty about his reaction. Sometimes I stroke his foot to calm him while in the process. I also talk to him in a soothing manner since his face is covered. He doesn't know who is cutting his nails, but the sound of my voice and the little strokes let him know that I'm nearby.

    #4 - Do them all in one session. No need to repeat the stressful (for both you and FT) experience. Remember that there is a reason it is called "tough love".

    #5 - Absolutely do NOT back off! They don't just "come around". The process seems to get less fearful with time. This doesn't mean that he will like it any more, just that he will tolerate it.

    If you have someone to help with the manicure, then perhaps you may want to use @bpatters carrot method. I do the process alone and need all available digits to get through it. In my case, the carrot comes at the end as a reward. Don't be surprised if he needs a nice long nap after the stressful experience. He will never come to like nail trimming, but may learn to tolerate it with time.

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    Cavy Slave MerryFriarTuck's Avatar
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    Re: Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

    Quote Originally Posted by bpatters View Post
    Is there anyone to help you? To hold the pig and apply the carrot to his mouth?

    If so, have them hold him with his back against their chest, one hand under his bottom, the other across his chest and holding the carrot (or other favorite food). You should be able to trim them quickly.

    IMO, it's better to do them all at once and get it over with. And no, don't wait until he comes around, because he likely won't.
    Yes, I would have someone to help me! I'm sure that method will work great for us. I've always used carrot or yellow bell pepper since they're his favorites and take more chewing. I figured it was best to get it over with...and alas he wouldn't just come around Thank you!

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    Cavy Slave MerryFriarTuck's Avatar
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    Re: Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

    Thank you so much, spy9doc! No worries about the double post; I've done the exact same thing

    #1 that's what I thought but I just had to ask. Yes, that I'm more at risk is so true! But we always both survive
    #2 it makes a lot of sense the burrito towel does calm them--- I'll put a cloth over his head even if I don't totally wrap him up. We have parrots and being snugly wrapped in a towel ( including head ) keeps them drastically calmer during nail/wing trims. Different species so I wasn't sure if it applied to piggies too!
    #3 I do have someone to help me but your method is fantastic if I ever have to do it myself! Thank you for all the great details, and it's really nice to know Sparky hates his back feet done and is just as dramatic about it as Friar!
    #4 Yes, I knew tough love would probably be best.
    #5 Ok, I won't back off. He used to be sensitive about his front feet too, but has gotten much better... hopefully he'll learn to tolerate the back feet too! At least he only has six toes back there vs eight

    He'll get spoiled with all kinds of treats afterwards...and I'm prepared for him to take it very personally and glare at me for a week "and need all available digits to get through it" : that made me laugh, so true! A manicure is now in his near future, thanks for all the help!
    Last edited by MerryFriarTuck; 09-02-19 at 09:36 am. Reason: Forgot something

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    Cavy Slave LittleSqueakers's Avatar
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    Re: Help with piggy's nail trim phobia, please!

    I always preferred to use the carrot (or, in my case, an Oxbow cookie) as a distraction during the nail trim rather than strictly as a reward for after. Granted, none of my pigs were too terrible for nail trims. I'd say Tribble put up the most fuss. But as long as I could jam a cookie into his mouth, he'd just take his frustration out on the cookie while I clipped the nails. After the nails were done, I'd always sit there with him comfortably in my lap and pet him while he polished off another cookie or two before I put him back in the pigpen. I feel like this kind of let us both start to calm down after the stress of the procedure so that we wouldn't walk away from that situation with a negative experience. Hope this helps!

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