Animal Life Among the Rockies

To Trim a Bunny’s Claws

Concerning pet care:

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The post title is supposed to be like To Kill a Mockingbird but I don’t know if that communicated well.  So I decided to just tell you that.

So today I finally got around to borrowing cat-claw trimmers to use on my bunny.  Her name is Boo and she’s a floppy-eared bunny.  I didn’t name her and that’s as close as I come to identifying her breed.  Also, she’s white with some brown/grey spots.  Because that’s very important information (if sarcastica existed, that sentence would be in that font).

Now, I’ve never cut her claws.  Nor the claws of either of the other bunnies I’ve owned.  Nor the claws of any cat. Nor of any dog.  So this was a learn-as-you-go experience.

I was pretty concerned going into it because Boo can be fairly mean.  She has a temper and she holds grudges.  A true female.  And, obviously, her nails are long.  You don’t realize that a bunny can be scary until one charges you.  Then you start thinking about those claws and those powerful hind legs.  Not even mentioning those giant chompers! So yeah, I had a few concerns.

Just to give you a visual, I dressed in my housecoat with a heavy winter coat on top and a pair of winter work gloves.  So she couldn’t hurt me while I messed with her feet, which I have never attempted to touch before.

Turns out I overdressed.  Details later.

The trimmers I borrowed are guillotine-style.  This means that there’s a circle and a blade that slides past one side of the circle when the handle is squeezed, therefore cutting off anything that is sticking through the hole.

The screw-heads show on the circle side.

The screw-heads show on the circle side.

The arrow points to the blade as it is coming up in front of the circle.

The arrow points to the blade as it is coming up in front of the circle.

The straight-edge of the handle is the blade-side of the trimmers.

The straight-edge of the handle is the blade-side of the trimmers.

Basic use of guillotine clippers:
  • The side showing the screw-heads should face your pet (the base of the claw)
  • The blade-side should should face you (the tip of the claw)
  • Cut top-bottom (or bottom-top) but NOT side-to-side (or else the nail may splinter)
  • Place your pet’s claw through the hole (from the screw-side) but no further than 2mm ahead of where the pink area (the quick) ends (the pink is blood vessels and nerves; cutting this will cause your pet great pain and it will bleed)
  • Squeeze the handle until the blade is braced against the nail.  Ensure the animal is secure and squeeze hard and fast to cut the nail

I browsed Amazon some and read many reviews. I concluded that this brand is the most reputable for guillotine-style trimmers although I could not find the cat and small animal size on .ca:
Resco Clippers

For more information about how to trim a cat’s claws specifically, try Petful.

For more information about how to trim a dog’s claws specifically try We Live in a Flat.

How I cut Boo’s claws:

First, I brought her into the bathroom and left her there for a few minutes to acclimate, as it’s not a room she’s been in often.  I was going to clip her near her cage so she’d feel more at home but was worried she might pee so I opted for the tiled bathroom.

I also brought in a big soft blanket (that I wouldn’t be heartbroken over if she peed on).

I tried to clip her nails with her just sitting naturally because I thought she’d feel better if she felt she had some control but I could barely pick up her feet at all, she was so nervous.  Other bunnies may be different but Boo doesn’t like to be handled at all.

I finally found success when I put Boo on her back and bundled her like a baby in the blanket. I didn’t actually wrap her in it, just folded the ends over top her and made sure her head was nicely cocooned  (I’ve read that rabbits are calmer when their ears are covered and I figured she would be calmer with her vision restricted as well).

Whatever it was, it seemed to work.

Boo wasn’t necessarily comfortable but she did not struggle at all and only pulled her foot away twice, I think because as I applied pressure to the nail it turned a little to an uncomfortable angle.

I had to stop after the first two claws because I was overheating to death in my anti-bunny-bite getup (which was apparently unnecessary) and it was difficult to hold her foot, push back the fur to see the quick of the claw, and work the clippers with those thick anti-bunny-bite gloves on.

I was able to clip all her claws with no problems and I went over them three times to see if any should be shorter, as I decided to err on the side of too long rather than cutting the quick.

Her nails were badly in need of this trim and knowing how easy it was I’ll be sure to do it more regularly now.

Have you ever clipped your pet’s claws?  How about a bunny’s?  What do you think of how I did it?  Leave your comments and questions below!

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  • Reply Elizabeth October 23, 2016 at 07:50

    Our sons raised show rabbits for years and we used to trim all 300 rabbits’ nails with kitten nail clippers. They’re small, easy to use, and do a great job!

    • Reply Jaclyn October 23, 2016 at 10:08

      Oh my, that sounds daunting! You must be the rabbit-trimming experts after doing that even once! It makes me really grate full I only have one bunny!

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