Tuesday, June 25, 2024
General Pet Health

How to Clip Your Pet’s Nails

By Ashley Watson

Dog Nail ClippingAt Pet Naturals® of Vermont, we like to promote responsible pet ownership in a variety of ways. Regular vet visits, a healthy diet, and supplements for overall health are three of the main ways that you can support your pet’s health. Then there are the small things, such as grooming. Trimming their nails is something that protects your pets and your furniture. Your veterinarian typically trims your pet’s nails during checkups, but it is something that should be done every few weeks.

Because most pets don’t like to have their nails trimmed, many dog and cat owners neglect to do this outside the vet’s office. We recommend having your vet show you some tricks to trimming the nails or claws on your specific pet. To get you started, we’ve included a post with tips on how to trim your cat or dog’s nails.


Dog Nail ClippersHaving the right nail clippers is a key component to clipping your pet’s nails. You can find nail trimmers that are specifically designed for pets at any pet store. Most vets recommend these clippers over regular nail cutters for humans because regular clippers can cause the nails to split and are not as easy to use. It’s mostly what works for you and doesn’t hurt the animal.

Some clippers are designed to help hold the nail or claw in place, such as the “guillotine” design. Always make sure that the blade is sharp to avoid splitting or bleeding. This can also help make sure you don’t cut into the quick – the pink part of the nail where there are nerve endings and blood vessels. See below for identifying the quick in dogs with darker nails.

Cats and Kittens

Kitten PlayingIf you have someone to help, have the person hold the cat while you clip the claws. Wrapping a towel around the cat can help calm the cat and prevent getting scratched. Pick a time of day when the cat is already calm or snuggling. Have the clippers handy so that you can take the opportunity when they are relaxed. Maybe use some catnip if this calms your cat.

Most pet owners only clip the front claws, but it’s a good idea to check the back claws for any ingrown nails or other issues. Gently press the pads of the paw until the claws are exposed. Only clip the very end of the nail, and remember not to cut into the quick. If by accident you do and it starts bleeding, apply a little pressure to the tip of the claw, or dip it in some cornstarch. It helps to keep this handy when you are trimming the nails of your cat.

For kittens, start trimming their nails early on helps them get used to it as they get older, and start slowly. Let them get used to you opening and closing the clippers. Play with their feet and let them get used to having their nails extended and retracted. Do this daily or as much as possible.

Keep it a positive experience (a treat after is never a bad idea) and don’t push them into anything. If it becomes a fight, they remember it next time. Begin by trimming one nail at a time, eventually two or three, and so on, until the process becomes routine. Do this with adult cats as well. If your cat simply won’t let you do it, then don’t force it and wait for the next vet visit.


Dog Nail ClippingJust like cats, pick a time of day when the dog is relaxed. Generally, mid-morning after breakfast or in the evening after dinner are both good times. If your dog is anxious or gets scared easily, clipping their nails  when they’re already nervous makes it much more difficult. Have someone soothe or distract the dog while you clip the nails if you can. Try to make it a routine so that the dog gets used to regular clippings.

For dogs with dark nails, it’s more difficult to see the quick. Make very small slices, one at a time for each nail. The first few should be all white and will appear “powdery” in the inside. Eventually you will see a dark center appear, and this is when you stop. That is the beginning of the quick.

As long as you’re careful to trim only small sections at a time, usually it’s not a problem. If you’re dogs are extra sensitive, you can’t make a ton of slices or they get too agitated and won’t sit through the process. It’s always a good idea to give them something that calms them and a treat afterwards.

Do you have special tricks that you use to trim your pet’s nails? Share your tips with us on Facebook.