There always comes that dreaded time for any pet owner: Nail Trimming. Though your pet’s nails will gradually wear down over time with activity and scratching, chances are it is not enough, and their nails will still need trimmed. Nail trimming is typically a source of stress and fear for pets and their owners, but it doesn’t have to be! The best way to calm both of those fears is knowledge!
The most important reason for trimming nails is to avoid painful feet! When a dog walks on a hard surface, like a floor in your house or a sidewalk, long nails can be pushed back up into the nail bed, which puts pressure on joints in the foot or causes toes to be twisted to the side. In the best case scenario, this just causes your dog’s toes to become sore; worst case, it can cause arthritis.
Though cats naturally scratch various objects to maintain their nails, he same can happen with cats, and long nails can grow back towards the foot and cut in to the paw pads causing discomfort or possibly infection. Long nails pose more of a risk for cats getting caught in carpet, furniture, or fabrics, and can even prevent your cat from playing.
Trimming is key to keeping our animals happy and healthy!
Some pet parents choose to take their furry family members to the Veterinarian or Groomer to have their nails trimmed; this is always an option! But, with a little time and work, you can skip the trip to the vet and do it yourself in the comfort of your own home! After all, the key to nail trimming is comfort; your own and your pet’s.
The first step to ensuring you are comfortable with nail trimming is to educate yourself and practice. The scariest part of nail trimming for most pet parents is the worry of hurting their pet. Having the right tools and knowledge can help eliminate this worry!
Though there are many types of clippers on the market. “Scissor” or “pliers” type clippers are recommended. “Guillotine” style clippers can crush the toe, causing pain. In addition to the right style of clippers, owners should ensure their clippers have sharp blades and are the proper size for their pet; smaller clippers offer more control, and large clippers should only be used with larger breeds. Another helpful tool to keep on hand is a “Pedi-paws” style grinder, which acts as an emery board to smooth out edges after clipping.
Having the right tools helps, but having the knowledge to use those tools is just as important! To properly cut the nail, aim to cut at a 45 degree angle, but be careful to avoid the Kwik! Inside the nail the Kwik, or pink area within the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are. Clipping the Kwik can cause the animal to bleed. If you happen to cut the Kwik, apply Kwik-Stop or Cornstarch to stop the bleeding. If your pet’s nail is too long and the Kwik is too close to the end of the nail, start by trimming small amounts of nail off every few days. This will allow the Kwik to recede, and you to trim the nail to a safe length without hurting your furry friend!
The first step is ensuring your animal is comfortable having their feet touched and associates foot touching with positive experiences. Don’t jump right in to nail trimming, especially with foot-sensitive animals. Rather, spend a few days, or weeks, playing with each foot and toe individually while sitting in their favorite chair. Use a positive, soothing tonal range to reassure your pet while keeping the clippers in your hand. Slowly, your pet will begin to enjoy your approval and the experience. Only once this happens should you attempt to clip one nail. Start slowly, and talk to your pet. Stop and reward their behavior! Keep a positive tone and praise your pet. Over time, add another nail, and another. Eventually, your pet will learn to enjoy nail trimmings, and you will be able to effectively trim their nails without worrying!
With a little work, knowledge, and the right tools, you and your pet can live happily knowing their nails are trimmed without incident or stress. Happy trimming!