Nail Trimming at Home
Nail trimming at home can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Clipping your pets nails is a regular part of their grooming routine. If left uncut, irregular gait and breakage can occur and cause issues such as lameness and infection. However, trimming your dog or cats nails can be a terrifying process especially if you don’t know exactly where to cut the nail. This blog will give you some tips and general guidelines on how to cut your dog or cats nails at home with ease.
You may want to try slowly introducing the clippers to your pet. Let them smell the clippers first and even clip only a few nails for the first couple of times. That way they can slowly get used to them and learn that is isn’t as scary as they think. After each paw is completely trimmed, you can give them a treat or a good pat on the belly to associate nail trimming with a positive outcome.
Another thing to try is just handle their feet, especially if they don’t like their feet to be touched. If you’re sitting down watching TV or playing with them on the floor, spend some addition time touching and holding the paws and paying special attention to each toe/nail. What this is doing is desensitizing them to having their paws touched, even if they are typically uncomfortable during nail trims.
Once your pet is used to this action, you can introduce the nail clippers by touching them to the nails. However, you will not cut the nails at this point, just associate the tool to the nail and reward with a treat. Once they are used to this, then you can begin by trimming the nails, a couple at a time and reinforce their good behavior with a treat. You want to make sure that you do not give them a treat when they act scared or fidget around. By doing so, you will be negatively reinforcing the bad behavior and they will continue act out in this behavior because they think they will receive more treats.
Associate with a Positive Outcome
One of the most common difficulties that pet owners face is the general handling of their pet. Normally, the dog/cat will be very hesitant to let you trim the nails and it may be difficult to hold them at the same time. So by associating the nail trims with something positive such as a special treat, receiving a new toy, or going for a walk, they may be more likely to hold still and not make as much of a fuss. Eventually they will realize that “Hey, these nail trims ain’t so bad!”
What Will You Need?
There are so many different types of clippers out there for cutting your pets nails, so how do you know which one will be right for you? Below is a picture of the different styles you can use. The most common types are scissor, plier and guillotine. The guillotine has a hole through which the nail will be placed, if this is the style of clipper you currently own, or would like to use, this article is very detailed in the process. As the name suggests, the scissor-type works like a pair of scissors and is most commonly used for cats, since their nails are so much smaller and easier to cut. Although preference differs, the most popular style here at LMVC is the plier style. We feel that you get better control and more precision than the guillotine, but it is truly whatever is more comfortable to you. Using a very small plier clipper is also suggested for cats.
Once you’re ready to actually clip the nails, you will need some sort of clotting powder, just in case you cut the nail too short and the quick begins to bleed. An example that you can use is Kwik Stop Styptic Powder.
Where and how to trim?
If you’re dog or cat has clear nails, you’re one of the lucky ones! You should be able to quickly decipher where the quick is located by its pink coloring. You’ll want to cut the nail no closer than 2mm from the point. With dark nails, less is normally more. It’s suggested that you take little slivers off at a time until you get it to the correct length. As you get closer to the quick, you will see a gray or pink oval form in the center of the nail. This is when you will stop cutting.
Don’t forget to cut the dewclaws! These are the nails found typically on the front legs, but are found slightly higher up on the inside of the leg. Since they don’t touch the floor as your pet walks, they are never ground down and are typically the longest out of all the nails.
Hold the toe firmly in your hand and, if using the plier or scissor-type clippers, hold the clippers at a right angle. You will want to quickly close the handles to cut the nail. If you cut the nail too short and cut the quickly, the nail will begin to quickly bleed. Apply your Quick Stop or other clotting powder to the quick (where you have just cut the nail) with your finger and apply some pressure to help aid in stopping the bleeding. This article also gives some great detail about how to hold and clip the nails.
If nail trimming at home still doesn’t seem to be working after all of these tips and tricks, then bring them in to a vet clinic or groomer to get their nails trimmed! You can request that they show you how to trim the nails if it would be easier for you to see it in person before trying it yourself!