Trimming Your Pet's Nails

Catherine Forman
April 21, 2006

The easiest way to make a toenail trim NOT an ordeal is to start when your pet is very young. If they are acclimated to the trimmer from an early age, they won't fight you when that cute puppy becomes a hundred pound monster.


Too bad we haven't invented time travel yet! Not everybody starts off with a young, impressionable puppy or kitten. I sure didn't. I have yet to have a dog that actually liked having their toenails cut, but I have learned a few tricks over the years.

  1. Make sure your nail clipper is sturdy, and the blade is sharp. You think nail cutting is bad? Try having the clipper break in your hand while you're trying to chop through a toenail.
  2. Distraction can be very helpful. Have someone else help hold your pet steady, and cover their eyes so they can't see what's coming.
  3. Space it out over a few days. Clip two nails at each session, quick and easy, before your dog or cat can get too upset. This will help them get used to the clippers because they are out more often, and will help the experience be less traumatic all around. There's nothing quite like wrestling an animal who is already upset and desperate to escape to safety behind the couch!

For dogs and cats, toenails have two parts. There's the hard outer layer and the softer inner layer, known as the quick. If you cut the quick, your pet is going to bleed. Don't worry, they're not going to bleed to death. If you have a little corn starch handy, you can pack the nail bed and stop the bleeding that way. A bit of tissue works just as well.

For dogs, I think the easiest thing to do (besides calling the vet or the groomer to do it for you!) is to flip the paw or position your dog so you are looking at the underside. This way, you can see where the quick is, and avoid it. For cats, a little pressure on the pad of the paw will cause the nail to come out.

It's always better to cut too little than too much, I think. Snip a bit off, and if that doesn't seem short enough, attack again in a few days. And if you're really not sure what's going on, ask your vet or groomer to show you how to do it before you give it a try on your own.

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July 12, 2011

This is a page about trimming your dog's nails. Trimming your dogs nails should be a regular part of your dog's grooming. If you choose to do it yourself, it is important to learn the proper way to trim them.

Trimming Your Dog's Nails, A person using dog nail trimmers.

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July 11, 2011

This is a page about trimming your cat's nails. A cat's nails need to be trimmed regularly. Whether you pay a groomer or the vet to trim them or do them at home, there are different techniques and safety concerns.

Trimming Your Cat's Nails, An orange Persian cat having it's nails trimmed.

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