Dog nails being cut and trimmed during groomingFor many pet owners, trimming pet nails is a task that invokes fear, dread, avoidance, or all three. All it takes is one bad experience to make both pet and owner understandably apprehensive about this basic grooming necessity.

Depending on your pet’s lifestyle, his or her nails may need to be trimmed as often as every few weeks. Thankfully, with the help of proper tools, instruction, and practice, even a beginner can master the art of pet nail trimming.

Why Pet Nail Trimming is so Important

Neglecting your pet’s nails can cause a variety of problems for him or her. Besides making walking uncomfortable, long nails can cause problems with gait and balance, and may even contribute to knee and hip problems by forcing your pet to walk on the outside of his or her paw pads.

Your pet’s mobility and health depend on regular nail trims. This important grooming component should be included as part of his or her regular home care.

Strategies For a Successful Trim

The main concern associated with pet nail trimming is the fear of cutting into the “quick”. The quick is the living part in the center of the nail, and is filled with nerves and blood vessels. Cutting the quick generally results in bleeding, pain, and upset for both pet and owner. Dark nails can be especially challenging, as the quick is difficult to see.

Practice is key when it comes to trimming your pet’s nails, and over time you will be able to avoid the quick easily.

The following tips will get you started:

  • Assemble your tools – Invest in a good quality pair of clippers, either the scissors or guillotine style, depending on your preference. Make sure to have styptic powder or cornstarch on hand to apply to the nail (to stop the bleeding) if you accidentally cut the quick.
  • Start slowly – Take hold of one of your pet’s toes and trim a small length of nail to begin. Maintain the natural curve of the nail by cutting at a slight angle from top to bottom (rather than from side to side).
  • Keep your eye on the quick – Cut a small amount of nail at a time until you can see the beginning of a nail-colored circle on the cut surface. When you see it, you will have reached the quick and should stop here.
  • Don’t forget the dewclaws – Some pets have an extra nail higher up on the leg, known as the dewclaw. Make sure to trim these as well, as they can become problematic if they get too long.
  • Ask for help – Enlist the help of another person to keep your pet calm and settled.

Need to see it to believe it? Check out this visual tutorial from the groomers at Union Lake Pet Services or ask your regular groomer or vet tech for one-on-one pet nail trimming guidance.

Along with nail trims, regular grooming should be a part of your pet’s wellness care. Grooming allows you or your groomer the chance to assess the condition of your pet’s skin, coat, ears, and eyes, all of which are indicators to your pet’s overall health.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your team at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services with your questions or concerns.