How to Trim Your Pets Nails

Taking care of a new pet can be tough work, whether it’s kittens or puppies. But the one thing we can agree on is how rewarding it can be to come home and cuddle our little ones at the end of a long day. It makes it much harder to do this when their nails are like little talons. Ripping up any material their nails come in contact with! The best possible solution for this problem is regular nail trims, but that is sometimes easier said than done.

When you first adopt a new kitten or puppy, there are many things you can do to ensure your pet has good experiences in the future. Working with your pet on basic handling can help make for less stressful vet visits. For your pet, for your vet, and for you!

During annual physical exams, an animal that will allow the Veterinarian to; pick up their feet, open their mouth, and take a temperature without difficulty is extremely beneficial for the most accurate examination possible. To help with this at home, you can; randomly pick up your pets’ feet, frequently squeeze and play with their paws, and make the motion with your hand of holding and using nail clippers. Make sure to reward them with treats, praise, or their favorite toy if they react well or not at all!

Many people utilize grooming facilities, their Veterinarian’s office, or mobile grooming companies for things like; baths, haircuts, and nail trims. Learning to trim your pet’s nails at home can not only reduce the stress to your pet but save you time and money in the long run.

There are many tips and tricks to cutting nails safely and quickly. Depending on if your pet is a dog or cat, the main key is a distraction. If there is a way to get your pet tuned in to anything other than the sound of the nail clippers opening and closing, use it! For cats, wrapping them in a blanket or towel on your lap can easily act as a second pair of hands when they get a little too wiggly.

For dogs, food is your best friend! Smear a small amount of peanut butter (Xylitol free!) on the bathtub wall or have a helper feed their favorite treats in quick succession. Is your puppy not food motivated? Sometimes just distracting them with a silly voice and some head rubs is enough for them to forget someone is even trying to clip their nails.

When it comes time for you to clip your pet’s nails, the preferred nail clippers are scissor clippers with a tension spring. Or if your pet does not mind the sound, a nail dremel (grinder). There are other types, such as guillotine clippers, but they are harder to maneuver from nail to nail and therefore a lot slower to use.

Before trimming, take a look at your pet’s nails to see if they are white or black. White nails are the easiest because you can easily see the quick (nerve ending and vascular supply to the nail), which is pink. Black nails are a little trickier, but you can see the quick as you are trimming. A small black dot will start to show at the end of the nail. That means you are getting close and should stop cutting.

If you are using the scissor clippers, begin at the tip of the first nail and trim off minimal amounts until the nail is flat across the bottom. Keep a close eye on the nail’s sides and bottom to see how close you are to the quick. Once the first nail is done, it will serve as a good example of how short to cut the rest of the nails. Though still be careful as quicks can grow and shrink depending on the frequency of nail trims and your pet’s activity level.

Veterinary Hospital For Trimming Your Pets Nails

At some point in your pet’s life, you may cut too far; this is a mistake many people make, including people who do it every day for a living, so don’t panic! Your pet may flinch or cry out, and the nail may begin bleeding. The best way to stop the bleeding is to apply a styptic powder to the cut nail to start the clotting process. You can buy this at most pet stores, though if you don’t have any on hand, cornstarch or flour would work, just not as well. Ask one of our World Of Animals technicians to demonstrate at your next visit. 

Being able to trim your pet’s nails in the comfort of your own home can make the process less stressful for your furbaby and ensure that nails do not get too long in between vet visits.


By: Erin
Vet Tech
World of Animals South Philadelphia