How to Trim Your Dog or Cat’s Nails (without you or them getting hurt)

October 3rd 2018

By Katie Berry, RVT

How often should I cut my cat or dog’s nails? 

You should cut your pet’s nails once every four to six weeks. If you can hear your dog or cat’s nails clicking on the floor, it is time to trim them. If your pet’s nails become too long it can cause strain and pain on their joints from an uneven gate, snagged or broken nails, or even nails that curl under and puncture your dog or cat’s pad.

What should I use to cut my dog or cat’s nails? 

You can use a special cat or dog nail trimmers that can be purchased at pet stores. We find the scissor type are the best and recommend avoiding the guillotine kind. There are many different cat and dog nail trimmers on the market. Some trimmers have a guard that only allows you to trim a small amount, to help you avoid cutting the quick. Find one that works best for you and your pet.

4 steps to trimming your cat or dog’s nails

  1. Press gently on the top of the toe to extend the nail out.
  2. Take a close look at the nail and identify where the quick begins. The quick is the pink portion of the nail.
  3. Slide the nail trimmer to the area before the quick and cut around the quick on an angle*
  4. If you accidentally cut too far and the nail begins to bleed – don't panic. Have some cornstarch or flour on hand and using your finger gently dab and then press it onto the end of the bleeding nail. Give your dog or cat some extra love and treats 
*If your dog or cat’s nails are black, trim a small amount until a small black dot appears in the middle. This is the quick. Trim around the quick.

How to cut an aggressive cat or dog’s nails 

If your cat or dog hates having their nails trimmed, there are ways to help both of you get through it.
Get them familiar with the process, when your sitting on the couch watching a movie play with their paws, putting your fingers between their toes. Get them used to the feeling of you touching there paws, toes and claws. From there start touching the clippers to their feet and their toes, opening and closing them to they get use to the sound and to something foreign being around their feet
With cats and small dogs, you can wrap them in a familiar blanket, extend one paw at a time, while keeping the others wrapped in the blanket and trim the nails, taking breaks as needed. Just cut as many nails as your pet can tolerate.  This could be one a day,  or a week – it’s important not to let them get too anxious or worked up.
If your cat or dog is very anxious about having their nails trimmed, you can get someone your pet is familiar with to help you. Have them hold the dog, pet them and keep them calm and give them treats while you trim their nails. There are also cat bags you can use to stop your cat from scratching while you trim their nails.
If all else fails, you can contact your vet office or groomer to trim your pet’s nails.

Should you declaw your cat? 

At Montgomery Village Vet Clinic, we do not declaw cats, nor do we recommend it. Declawing is actually an amputation of the cat’s first joint on its toe and is a serious surgery with a difficult recovery and can often result in unwanted behavioral issues.
If your cat spends anytime outside, removing their claws can also removes their ability to get away quickly or protect themselves.
Trimming your cat’s nails regularly is the best way to care for them.
If you have any questions or need help trimming your cat’s nails please visit the clinic at 403-615-8016.
And please watch the two instructional videos below by our Registered Veterinary Technician Katie that demonstrates a nail trimming on a dog and a cat!



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