- Make sure to have the right size nail trimmers for your pet’s nails
- Desensitize a fearful pet beforehand
- Perform in a calm and comfortable environment
- If worried about hitting the quick, only clip the very tip and then use a nail grinder
- Provide praise and positive reinforcement with your voice and treats
- Use a muzzle if necessary (I DO!)
- Have a TRUSTWORTHY helper to hold your pet during the nail trim
- If you hit the quick, DON’T PANIC, it happens! Have Quick-Stop and a cotton swab ready to stop the bleeding
- Relax! Animals are capable of sensing our energy; a nervous and scared human = a nervous and scared pet
- Wrap wiggly pets in a towel or blanket to minimize movement
What is the Quick?
Before becoming a veterinary technician, I was terrified of cutting my pets nails! Why? I was afraid of hitting the quick. The quick is the pink inner tissue that contains blood vessels and nerves. Have you ever cut one of your nails too short? It hurts and bleeds. Luckily, a lot of dogs and cats have clear white tinted nails so you are able to see where the quick is. Still, that doesn’t help out pet owners dealing with black or pigmented nails. Here’s my advice on performing at-home nail trims and how I cut my dog’s nails whether the quick is visible or not.
The first step is VERY important and does not involve any cutting. This is meant to help desensitize fear. You’ll want to perform the nail trim in a calm and comfortable location. Where is your dog most comfortable? living room? kitchen? backyard? Okay, great!
Begin to touch your pet’s paws and nails while giving them their favorite treat and praising them…“ such a good boy/girl.” If you have never cut your pets nails at home before or they do not like their paws being touched… you may want to stop here. Do this for a couple of days before moving on to the next step. Before performing a nail trim, I make sure to have everything I need ready to go beside me. Emma, my beagle mix is fear aggressive, therefore with her I use a muzzle.
What I use…
- Nail trimmer
- Nail grinder
- Quick-Stop (just incase)
- Cotton swabs
Doggy Nail Trims
With someone I trust holding my dog, I pick up one paw and cut just above the pointy tip with the nail trimmers. I do this on all four paws. I then use the nail grinder to file away more length (don’t forget the declaw) and tada, you’re all done!
If you are getting close to the quick, your dog may react by whimpering or pulling their paw away. In general, visualize a line from the nail to the bottom of the paw pad. This is a good reference point, do not cut above unless you can visualize the quick! If you are worried about cutting the quick, don’t cut a lot off. You may also like to trim in increments. Trim a little, stop. If necessary, trim a little more and so on.
Kitty Nail Trims
For my kitties, I do not use the grinder as their nails are much softer and the quick is easy to visualize (plus the noise from the grinder freaks them out more than the actual nail trim). If your kitties’ nails are not visible, apply gentle pressure to the top of their paw and move backwards. This motion will cause their nails to extend.
What if I Cut the Quick?
If you accidentally cut the quick, don’t worry it happens to the best of us! Following these steps, it’s probably just a graze. Dip a cotton swab in quick stop and apply to the nail with gentle pressure. Hold it in place for a few seconds or until the bleeding stops. Practice is the best way to gain confidence, feel more comfortable and strengthen your nail trimming skills.