How to Safely Trim Your Pets Nails at Home

How to Safely Trim Your Pets Nails at Home

Posted by Nicole Thompson - Owner, Paws 2 Purrfection, LLC on 14th Sep 2017

KEEP CALM, AND TRIM ON

Tappa Ticka…Tappa Ticka…Tappa Ticka……

Oh boy… it's time to trim those nails again!

But before you run to your groomer, take a quick peak at how easy it is for you to safely trim your pet's nails right at home!

Trimming your pet's nails doesn't need to mean a trip to the groomer, vet or pet store. While not terribly expensive to have done, it can be done with no cost besides the initial investment into a good pair of nail trimmers, right at home.

One of the main concerns when trimming your dog's or cat's nails is, of course, cutting them too short and making them bleed. Nobody wants to be the cause of a yipping puppy after all. Below is a list of the best practices in at home pet "PAW"-dicures.

The How To's of At Home Claw Care

Nail trimming can sometimes be stressful for some dogs and cats, so the first thing you'll want to do is create a calm environment for them. Make nail trimming a regular weekly routine that perhaps involves a few treats or special loving playtime. Soothing and speaking softly and calmly to your pets is key! Pets pick up on your stress and will mirror that in their behavior, so you being calm will help them be calm.

Next, you'll want to make sure you have a good sharp nail trimmer, so as to avoid any extra pressure needing to be applied when making the cuts. It's also a good idea to get a nail trimmer that offers a stop to prevent your pet's nail from going too far across the blade. I use the Dog Nail Clippers and Trimmer By Boshel These clippers work great to prevent over trimming because they have a built-in safety shield and are nice and sharp, making quick work of the nail trimming task.

If your pet has white or semi-opaque nails, trimming them will be much simpler than on a dog that has black or brown, completely opaque nails, since you can't see the quick on them. So the next step is to make sure you know what you're supposed to be trimming. At first you may be a little nervous making the first cuts, but as you do this more regularly, both you and your pet will get much more comfortable with the whole routine.

You'll really only want to take off the tip of the nail. On most dogs, you'll see a natural arch to the tip of the nail, before it thickens (or widens) at the quick. The quick is the blood vessel that goes down the center of the nail. Place your dog's claw into the trimmer at about a 45° angle (angled toward the pad), not pushing the nail past the guard on the trimmer. For some pets you may even notice the guard doesn't block enough of the nail, so you may want to take a bit less than the guard allows until you get the hang of at-home nail trimming. As you get a feel for this, you will begin to be able to easily gauge how far you can trim without concern of injury. Always start out further toward the tip of the claw until you learn where the cuts need to be made.

If you have a dog with severely over-grown nails, you'll want to start gradually and take a little bit of the nail off at a time, because as the nail grows, so does the quick. But each time you trim the nails, the quick with withdraw back a bit more. With patient persistence you can get the nails down to a healthy length again and then it's just a matter of regular maintenance.

Kitty Claw Care

Trimming your cat's claws can sometimes be a little bit tricky, depending on whether or not your kitty is a nervous Nellie or a mellow fellow. I personally prefer to use a regular pair of human-type nail trimmers for our cat's nail care, as the natural curve of the cat's claw actually works to prevent over trimming with these types of clippers.

As a cat's claws grow out they shed a husk of the older part of their nail casing. When it's time for this husk to slough off, cat's will scratch on things to help it come off naturally, but they may end up scratching in places you don't want them to. Keeping your cat's nails trimmed regularly helps to maintain a healthy claw length and also helps them to remove this outer husk without needing to claw on your furniture or carpets.

To cut a cat's claws, you'll want to find a way that's comfortable for both you and your cat. I like the cradle method, where you are literally holding your cat like a baby, rocked back in your arm with little footsies in the air. Holding the paw to be trimmed in the same hand as the arm that's cradling them, apply gentle, but firm pressure to the paw, exposing the nails. With the flat of the trimmer facing the nail directly, insert the claw until it stops naturally and SNIP! Repeat on all the rest of those little toes and before you know it they're all done!

To make clean up a snap, I use a nail clipper that catches the trimmings too, so there's little to no clean up when you're finished! The Genuine "No-mess" Nail Clipper works great for this and is my personal favorite!

There are other methods and other trimmers out there for sure. These are just the ones that work for us and our critter crew, but we do have several critters and they all do very well with these tricks and techniques. Some pets will get more stressed than others so don't be surprised or frustrated by this behavior. As far as they know, they may think you're trying to cut off their entire little paw… LOL! One of our pups, even though she's had her nails trimmed at home weekly since the day we adopted her, still gets very nervous about the whole procedure. But she also gets silly and super happy once we do the weekly trim and goes into what we have affectionately deemed "Stealth Mode" because now she's super silent as she trots across the floor.

Keeping your dog's and cat's nails trimmed regularly is not only good practice to make each time easier, but it's a necessary part of pet care that will help them live healthier and more comfortable lives. Keeping your dog's claws trimmed to a healthy length will help prevent ankle and knee pain as they get older and keeping your cat's claws trimmed regularly will help prevent unwanted clawing on furniture, carpets & stairs. Now occasionally there will be the accidental over-trim, but don't be too hard on yourself. You're pup won't hold it against you for long.

If this does happen however, apply firm pressure to the tip of the nail with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel while holding the paw up above the dog's heart. Keep speaking calmly and lovingly to your pet to make sure they are calm. If the bleeding is troublesome, use a bit of Styptic powder to stop the bleeding.

Our pet's need mani/pedi's too, so make sure to give them regular spa days and you will have a happier more comfortable pet because of it.

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