The Do's and Don'ts of Clipping Your Pet's Nails

Published: January 5, 2022
Home / Health / The Do's and Don'ts of Clipping Your Pet's Nails

Keeping your pet's nails trimmed is an important task not only for your pet's health but sometimes for the health of your home. When a pet's nails are too long, they can accidentally scratch people, become caught in clothing or other dangerous places, or make it easier for your cat to claw at the furniture. Regular nail trims make for a happier, healthier pet, but it's important to understand the do's and don'ts first. 

Do Groom Your Pet Regularly

The best thing you can do for your pet's nails is to trim them regularly. As nails grow, so does the quick. The longer you wait to trim your dog's or cat's nails, the more likely it is that you'll accidentally nick the quick, causing them pain. Additionally, overgrown nails can catch in collars, on heating vents, and in many other places that can cause your pet pain. Ideally, you'll trim their nails 1-2 times per month to ensure optimal length. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside or walking on sidewalks may not need trims as often, as the ground can naturally grind nails away. On the other hand, animals that spend most of their time indoors may need trims more often.  

Don't Rush the Process

You might think that you can cut your pet's nails in 10 minutes or less because you've seen the groomer do it, but the groomer has professional experience that you probably don't have. When you plan to do your pet's nails, make sure that you have at least an hour of time cut out of your day to handle it. This gives you plenty of time for breaks if you or your pet needs them. When you make sure that you don't rush the job, you protect your pet's well-being by ensuring you don't accidentally hurt him.

Do Bathe Your Dog First

If your dog hasn't had a bath in a while, it is a good idea to give him one before you try to clip his nails. A bath not only leaves him feeling and looking better but can also help to soften the nails and make them easier to train. Avoid using shampoo for humans, as it can be rough for your dog's fur. Instead, choose a shampoo made specifically for your pooch. There are a variety of options available. If you have a sensitive dog, try a shampoo made with oatmeal, such as TropiClean Oxy-Med Oatmeal Pet Shampoo. If your pooch is still a baby, use a mild shampoo such as the wild cherry-scented Earthbath Ultra Mild Puppy Shampoo. You can even find conditioners to leave your pet's fur silky smooth. 

Don't Cut Too Close To the Quick

It might be tempting to cut your pet's nails as far down as possible, so you don't have to do it as often. This is actually dangerous. When you cut your pet's nails down too far, you can hit the quick. Hitting the quick of the nail causes them pain and may make your pet more fearful of nail trims in the future. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, sometimes accidents happen. If you do happen to nick the quick of your dog's or cat's nails, don't worry too much. Things will be okay. Use a clean cloth to apply pressure to the area to slow the flow of blood and help it to clot. It is also a good idea to have a styptic powder on hand to stop the bleeding quickly. One option is Miracle Care Gimborn Kwik Stop Styptic Powder for Dogs and Cats. You can also use a cold compress to shrink the vessels and ease some of the pain. Finally, apply a bandage to keep the wound clean while your dog's nail grows back. 

Don't Restrain Your Dog Unsafely

Restraining your dog may be necessary during the nail trim, but it is important to do it the right way. Using a leash and collar isn't always a good idea because your pet may pull and the collar against his neck can cause the trachea to be damaged. Naturally, you also shouldn't retrain him by pulling his fur, paws, ears, or tail. If you can, ask a friend or family member to hold your pet and keep him calm while you trim his nails. Another idea is to use a sling that holds your pooch in place while you trim his nails.

Do Be Patient

Trimming your pet's nails can be a stressful time for you both. If you aren't patient with your pet, he will be more likely to pick up on your stress and fight the trimming process. Spend time praising your pet during the nail trim, taking the entire process slowly so that he can tell you are feeling calm. while you're trimming his nails, watch for signs that your pet is stressed. If he is whining, panting, or trembling, take a break to cuddle him until he calms down again. If necessary, trim only one or two nails and then wait to do more later to prevent overwhelming him. 

Do Know Your Limits

No matter how good your grooming tools are for your pet, sometimes you just won't be able to get the job done on your own. Some pets are simply too anxious. Other times, you just might not have the time in your schedule. This means it is important to know your limits. If you can't safely trim your pet's nails on your own, take him to a professional groomer or ask your veterinarian to do it. Whether you trim your pet's nails at home or you take him to the veterinarian, keeping a trim schedule is important for your pet's health. After all, you want him to look and feel comfortable. If you have any concerns, always talk to your veterinarian about what will best meet your pet's needs. 



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