Pet Health: Trimming Your Pets Nails

Part of being a dog or cat owner is making sure your pet gets regular health care. Just like human’s dogs and cats may need regular nail trimming. You will want to check your pet’s nails every couple of weeks to see if they need a trim.

Nails that are too long can cause health problems for the animal. They may have a hard time walking and undue pressure on the pad of the foot can lead to sores and infections. In addition, this can lead to muscle injury and deformed feet.

Nail trims are an easy task to do yourself. However, if you(or your furry friend) feel anxious or you find it difficult to hold your pet and trim at the same time you may need some assistance. A licensed pet groomer or a veterinarian can also perform this task.

At our clinic we do a complimentary nail trim if your animal is in for surgery. We can also do a nail trim by appointment for $30.00 (which is our technician exam fee and can include other services such as expressing anal glands).
Nail trim at Licking Valley Veterinarian Clinic

Start Young

Nail trimming can cause anxiety both for pets and owners. Start when your pet is a pup or kitten by handling there feet regularly.

You don’t have to actually trim but hold their paws in your hand while petting them. Pet them and praise them. If they pull away don’t pull back. Just release the paw and start again.

Next session let them smell the clippers. Squeeze the clippers so they hear the sound they make.

This will help them become accustomed to having their feet handled and make them more cooperative when you or the vet need to trim their toenails.

Some groomers suggest giving your pet a treat while you are trimming. For a puppy licking peanut butter off a spoon is a good distraction. For a kitten a bit of tuna.

Trimming Your Dogs Nails

  • Hold the dog’s paw gently but firmly.
  • Place your thumb under the pad and your first finger on top.
  • Clip the tip of the nail straight across.
Here is a great example of how to preform a nail trim.

Take Care

Your dogs nail has a curve to it. Inside the curved area is a blood vessel called the quick. Only trim the tip of the nail and don’t cut into the quick.

If you accidently trim too far back the nail will bleed. To stop the bleeding use a clean towel to compress the wound for several minutes. You may also want to have styptic powder on hand which stops bleeding.

Trim Your Cats Claws

Cats are a bit harder than dogs to trim their nails. Cats have retractable claws which means they can pull their claws into their footpads.

  • Start by putting your cat on your lap and letting them get comfortable.
  • If you know your cat will have some anxiety and squirm you can wrap them in a towel.
  • Gently press the toe pad. This will cause the nail to extend.
  • Clip the end of the nail being careful not to cut into the quick. On cats, the quick is typically pink.
  • Spread the nail trim out. Trim one or two paws at a time to not stress your cat.
Cats can display more anxiety than dogs during nail trims. Let us know if you need to make an appointment for us to trim their claws.

Helping Keep Claws Healthy

Inside cats may need their nails trimmed as often as every ten to fourteen days.

Having scratching posts available and safe climbing centers for cats to have natural behaviors will help them keep their claws healthy and your furniture safe.

Declawing Cats

Never declaw cats. This requires a painful surgery which actually removes the end of their toes. In addition, this takes a way a cat’s natural defense system.

An alternative is putting plastic covers on their claws so they can not puncture household furniture. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty recommends you ask your veterinarian about this option.


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Take Away

Nail trims are an important part of your pets regular care. Take your time and strive to make it a pleasant expeience. If you need any help we are just a phone call away!

Give the office a call at 859-472-4141. We are always here to help!

Author, Ame Vanorio, is the director of Fox Run Environmental Education Center and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. She teaches onsite and online classes in organic gardening, solar power, and wildlife rehabilitation. She lives on her farm in Falmouth, Kentucky with too many animals to count! 

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