One of the most challenging aspects of being a pet owner is staying on top of regular grooming. Whether you have a dog or a cat, brushing and bathing are usually the easiest parts of the process. Nail trimming, on the other hand, is often the most dreaded task of all.
If not done correctly, not only can you inflict pain and injury to your fluffy loved one, but you might come away a few digits short of a full hand depending on your pet’s temperament. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help ease what can be a rather tense interaction.
Tips for cutting dogs’ nails
One of the anatomical blessings when it comes to grooming dogs is that their nails are not retractable. For some dogs, you’ll find that you don’t actually need to trim all of their nails as they can often be worn down naturally if you are doing your pet-parenting duty and walking them regularly. That being said, unless your dog has had its dew claws surgically removed, you’ll always need to keep a close eye on those nails because they can easily get too long and cause a variety of problems.
If you find you are one of the unlucky ones who will need to regularly trim their dog’s nails, there are a few tools you’ll want to have handy.
Pet Nail Trimming Tool Kit
Now you can’t just grab your dog’s paw and start cutting. First, you’ll want to take time, days or weeks, to help your dog become accustomed to having its feet touched. Some dogs don’t mind at all while others may react with aggression or fear. Again, this takes time and patience, and, of course, is most easily achieved when they are puppies.
Once your dog has gotten used to you handling their paws you can start getting them acquainted with the clippers. Some dogs are so violently opposed to clippers being anywhere near their paws that many inventive pet owners have put out a myriad of nail trimming tools including rotating sandpaper grinders and shockingly expensive contraptions that we all know you’ll never get your dog to stand on.
So, getting your dog acclimated to the sound and feel of clippers should be done with patience and perseverance. It helps, like with all things and dogs, to offer food-based rewards as their tolerance grows.
If your dog has clear nails, you’re in luck—it’s much easier to see the quick (the portion of the nail with tissue, nerves and blood vessels) and avoid clipping the nail too short. If your dog has dark nails, you’ll want to be far more conservative in your clipping, instead clipping small amounts more frequently.
If you do happen to cut too short and the nail begins to bleed you can dip the nail in cornstarch to help stanch the bleeding. Use a fine sand file to clean up any edges that may be rough or uneven to prevent the nail from snagging on carpets and bedding.
And while this seems like common sense, remember that you don’t have to trim all of their nails at once, a few each day is perfectly fine and can actually be less stressful for both you and your dog.
Tips for cutting cats’ nails
Cats love to do that cuddly and cute kneading thing that makes your heart melt. Except it’s not so cuddly and cute when they have razor sharp claws. Hate to break it to you but your cat isn’t wearing down its claws on those scratching posts (and couch arms), it’s sharpening them. To keep this affectionate bonding interaction one of pleasure and not piercing pain, you need to trim your cat’s claws regularly.
You’ll need to get your cat accustomed to having his or her paws handled as well as the look and sound of the clippers. Once your cat is content with the idea of you playing with their paws, you can gently apply pressure to one toe at a time to push out their retracting claws. If you aren’t sliced to ribbons at this point you’re making great progress and can move on to the next phase.
Cat treats are imperative to incentivizing your furry friend to let you come at him or her with a set of clippers. When you’ve worked up to your cat not reacting to the clippers more violently than that time a cucumber that snuck up on him while he was having a nice tuna dinner, then you’re ready to cross over into clipping territory.
One toe at a time, gently apply pressure until the claw is fully exposed. Carefully clip only the sharpest point on the claw, avoiding the quick of the nail. In the event that you accidentally clip a nail too short and it begins to bleed, a small amount of cornstarch applied to the tip of the claw will help stop the bleeding. If necessary, clip only a few claws at a time and reward your cat for a job well done, repeating the process a day or two later until all the nails are trimmed.