Nail Trimming

A groomed pet is a healthy pet and nail trimming is an essential part of that. Plus, you can save your floors from being damaged or your furniture from becoming shredded scratching posts.

While you certainly can have your pet brought to professionals for this task, it is something you can perform at home if you learn how to do it properly and know the best ways to keep your pet calm and comfortable.

It’s best to start while your pet is young to get them used to the task. Animals can be hesitant to have their feet handled so it’s important they feel safe. Some pets will resist more than others and require more soothing. Allow your pet to sniff the trimmers, hear it clip (without trimming a nail), and if it’s a grinder they may need to get used to the noise and vibration before you bring it close to them. Offer lots of praise and show them that they should not feel scared. Be patient as this can take them some time. Never attempt to trim your pet’s nails when either of you is agitated; it’s best to take it slow or speak with Dr. Bischel for advice first.

Once you’re both comfortable you can start. You may only be able to do one or two nails in beginning, and only remove a tiny amount of nail at a time. Offer treats and praise when successful, but never scold if not. You’ll need to ease into this process by doing one or two a day if that is all your pet can handle in a sitting.

To begin, take a paw and gently place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure fur is out of the way. Use your finger placement to gently extend the nail to allow you enough room to angle your nail trimmer. Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Avoid clipping past the curve of the nail or you risk hitting the quick (the live area of the nail that contains nerves and blood vessels.) A nick there is not only painful, it will also bleed!

  • On cats, snip only the more transparent part of the claw (before the pink quick). It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail rather than risk cutting too much!
  • For dogs with dark nails, look for a chalky white ring – that’s a pretty good indicator of what not to go past!  Remember – a little at a time.


It’s a good idea to have styptic powder or other clotting powder on hand to stop bleeding in case you accidentally cut a nail too short. Realize that if this happens, your pet may not let you finish and you may have to start the comforting process again. Regular nail trims will help keep quicks short, which is good when it comes to easy maintenance. The longer the nail grows, the longer the blood vessels and nerves have to extend to supply them.

If this worries you too much to perform this at home, be sure to have your pet brought to a professional.  It’s an important part of your dog’s well-being. The longer the nails are, the easier it is for them to be injured. Failing to clip your pet’s nails can cause problems such as a splayed or deformed feet – and non-trimmed claws can also injure the tendons over an extended period. As the long nail hits the ground, the pressure puts force on the foot and leg structure. Some dogs wear their nails down through frequent walks on pavement and won’t need to have their nails clipped as often.

There are various kinds of nail trimmers out there; it’ll be up to you and your dog to decide which works best for you both. Dr. Bischel can help recommend tools as well as ways to keep your dog calm during the process. As mentioned though, if your pet flat out refuses their pedicure, speak with Dr. Bischel for help – or make an appointment!