How to Trim Your Cat’s or Dog’s Nails at Home
You know the sound: Your pet is walking across a wood or tile floor in your home and you hear that click, click, click of their nails hitting the ground. This can, at best, be an annoying sound and, at worst, a sign that your floors and furniture are getting damaged or your pet could be hurting.
While many pets don’t need their nails trimmed by their owners (cats especially if they’ve got enough scratching posts around), some dogs and cats need a little bit of help. Older cats may not use the scratching posts enough, putting them at risk for an ingrown nail. Dogs’s dew claws don’t rub the ground, often allowing excess growth. You can take your pet to your vet or a groomer to get this done, and if you feel uncertain about the process it’s probably safer to do that. However, if you’re feeling brave and your pet is accommodating, you can trim your dog or cat’s nails at home.
How to Trim a Cat’s Nails
- Choose your tools. There are a variety of implements available to help you trim your cat’s claws, including special scissors to hold a cat’s claw in place and pliers-like clippers. You can even use human nail clippers in a pinch, but be sure that the blade on whatever you choose stays sharp. It’s also a good idea to keep something on hand to stop bleeding, like styptic powder or cornstarch.
- Collect your cat. Some cats will do just fine sitting in your lap or on the floor while you trim their claws. Others will require some restraint, such as being wrapped in a towel or an extra set of hands to hold them while you clip. Whatever you choose, be sure to keep your nail clippers in hand when you wrangle your cat so you can quickly start clipping.
- Get the claw in the right position. Apply gentle pressure to your cat’s paw pad, causing their claw to become visible. You’ll need to maintain this gentle pressure, one nail at a time, as you clip.
- Only trim the tip of the nail. The key to properly trimming your cat’s nails is to trim just a little bit. You can always clip them again in a few days if you find you were too conservative. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution and stay as far away from the pink part of the nail (called the quick).
- Deal with bleeding (if necessary). If you do happen to cut your cat’s claws too close and cause bleeding, dip the affected nail in styptic powder or cornstarch. Keep an eye on them to make sure the bleeding stops, and call your vet if you are at all concerned.
- Clip one at a time. Take your time and trim one nail at a time, as your cat’s mood allows. If you aren’t able to get to all their nails at once, that’s OK; you can always trim the rest at a time when they’re less grumpy.
How to Trim a Dog’s Nails
- Choose your tools. There are a variety of nail trimming devices for dogs, including scissors, grinder tools, and guillotine-type clippers. You also want to have something nearby to stop bleeding, such as styptic powder or cornstarch.
- Release the nails. Firmly pick up your dog’s paw. Gently place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe (on the skin above the nail). Be sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way. Push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad while pushing your forefinger forward to extend the nail.
- Only trim the tip of the nail. Cut carefully just the tip of the nail, straight across. Avoid clipping past the curve of your dog’s nail or you’ll hit the quick (the pink area).
- Deal with bleeding (if necessary). If you do nick your dog’s nail and cause bleeding, dip the nail in styptic powder or cornstarch. Watch them to make sure the bleeding stops, and call your vet if you’re concerned.
- Grind your dog’s nail (if using a grinder). Only grind a small part of your dog’s nail at a time, starting across the bottom of the nail. Carefully grind in from the tip of the nail, smoothing rough edges.
Pet Grooming in Frederick, MD
At Old Farm Veterinary Hospital, we know how important it is to keep your pet’s nails trimmed—and how stressful it can be. Our skilled pet groomer can help with this task, keeping your pet safe and healthy. Call today for an appointment!