Keeping your pet’s nails appropriately short is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle for your pet. Unless your dog is running on concrete frequently or simply has slow growing nails, monthly trims or grinds are probably par for the course. You can do this by visiting a groomer or a vet, or trying it at home.
If you are game for trying it at home, first, you have to choose a clipper. We recommend a scissor style clipper, because they make it easier to see where you’re clipping and have less chance of a nail getting caught in the clipper if the dog or cat flinches as you go to snip. If you’re more comfortable and more used to snipping, you may want to try the guillotine style, but we like the scissors.
Then you need to get your pet used to having his or her toes touched. The best way is to pick up his paw for a few seconds and play with his toes. Immediately give him a treat, and he’ll start associating having his feet touched with positive things. Once he’s comfortable with just touching his toes, try it with a clipper, stopping short of the actual snip. Just get him used to, and OK with, the look and feel of the clippers. Make sure you do this in a quiet area. You can imagine that a somewhat stressful occurrence is exacerbated by lots of noise and activity. And take your time…it may take a few days to get them used to this.
When you’re ready, lift his paw and choose a nail to trim. Make sure the blade is at a right angle/perpendicular to the nail. You’ll want to hold his toes steady and make a quick cut, no less than 2 millimeters out from the quick.
About that quick…
The quick is a piece of nerve tissue and a vein that runs underneath the nail. If the pet’s nails are light, you can see the pink tissue, but if they are black, it’s harder to see. Nicking the quick can cause bleeding and potentially a bit of pain, so try to avoid it if you can. If that means you need to take smaller cuts, definitely do it. And keep some styptic powder nearby to help clot up any nicks you may make.
Some professional groomers, and even some amateurs, will use a Dremel® tool instead of a clipper. This is a mechanical sander that files down the nail gently and more painlessly. The vibrating and motor of it can be a little more distracting to pets, but it allows for a less jagged, more even filing of the nails with less risk of cutting or splitting the nails.
OK, back to trimming…
If your dog seems fine with the first couple of nails, you can keep going, or do it over the course of a few days. But don’t forget: give you furry friend a tasty treat as a reward after you’re done trimming his or her nails. It will make them remember that this isn’t such a bad thing to have gone through!
And of course, you can always stop into Kriser’s Natural Pet to have a professional groomer trim your pet’s nails. Most of our pet groomers can accept walk-ins for a quick nail trim, or call ahead to schedule a time for your pet to get a full groom. (Cat grooming available only at select locations. Please call for details.)