Category Archives: toenails

How to Trim a Dog’s Toenails

By Linda Cole

Dogs aren’t always cooperative when it’s time to trim their toenails. I’ve had dogs that sat patiently while I trimmed away; however, most of my dogs look at me as if I’m going to take their nails off all the way up to their elbow. It’s not a chore most dogs or owners enjoy, but it is an important grooming necessity. Trimming a dog’s nails isn’t really that bad, and you can do it without losing a finger in the process.

Teach your dog it’s OK for you to touch his feet. The best age to get your dog used to having his feet touched is when he’s a puppy, but don’t despair if you missed that part of your pup’s education. You can still teach an older dog to accept having his feet touched by using the same method you use with a puppy. Pick up a paw and hold it in your hand. Massage in between the toes and gently pull on the nails so your dog can become accustomed to the feeling. Teach him to shake hands to help him learn that paw holding is OK. I’ve always played with my dogs feet when they’re snuggled next to me so they get used to having their feet messed with.

I like to use scissor nail clippers made for dogs, which have a stop on the back to prevent you from getting too much of the nail at one time. It looks like a short blunt-headed pair of scissors. Another nail trimmer works like a guillotine, but this trimmer makes it harder to see the nail you’re trying to cut. I have also used the dremel-like tool made for dogs. It works well, but it’s slow and you still need to be careful not to take the nail down too far because it can cut into the quick. Some dogs don’t like the whirling sound it makes. Experiment to see which nail trimming tool is more comfortable for you to use, because that’s the one that will work best for you.

Put your dog in a position that’s comfortable for him and don’t restrain him. If you scare him or make nail trimming too unpleasant, he won’t be cooperative. Have some CANIDAE TidNips treats on hand to reward him for good behavior. Be gentle but firm, and take your time. Don’t try to trim the nail in one cut. Take a little off at a time until it’s at the desired length, and be careful not to cut into the quick. The pink color of the quick is easy to see on dogs with white nails, but dark colored nails are impossible to see through. It’s better to leave the nail a tad longer if you can’t see where the quick is. Don’t forget to trim the dew claws.

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How to Clip Your Cat’s Toenails

Did you know you can trim your cat’s toenails yourself? It is really very simple and it doesn’t take much time or effort once you get the hang of it. Not only that, you can save any fees the vet would charge you for this service if you had to have them do it.
There are several types of nail clippers and I have pictured my favorites below. There is one like a garden pruner, which is suitable for both dogs and cats. While I do have one, I tend to use it only on Skye, as it can be cumbersome to hold when you have a wiggling kitten to deal with. The second one is a scissor type with a rounded spot for the nail to fit into. This is usually the one I use on the cats, as I find it the easiest to use because you can just lay the tip of the toenail into the groove in the scissor. The third one is also a pruner type, but has a stop, that can be set behind where you are cutting. This is nice, because in theory you can’t cut off too much toenail and are less apt to cut into the quick of the nail and make it bleed. The last kind of clipper is a guillotine type (not pictured) and you squeeze it to make the blade cut just like a guillotine. The issue I personally have with these is that it is a lot easier to split the nail and if you have a cat that doesn’t like getting their nails clipped it is harder to use when they are wiggling and not sitting still.

The first thing you want to do is assemble your tools. Have a towel to wrap the cat in if they tend to be nervous. Get your clipper and make sure it has a sharp blade in it. You should also have something on hand to stop the bleeding, either a styptic powder or pencil in case you cut too close to the quick. I prefer the powder myself, and put it in a little bowl, so as not to contaminate the rest of the container. Last, but not least; have a favorite treat ready for after the clipping is done (I use a small piece of cheese). This gives the cat something to look forward to, and makes them less likely to balk the next time you want to clip their nails.
I start clipping toenails when my cats are kittens and after a few times they get pretty used to having it done. I try to do it in the evening, as if they have been active during the day, now they are ready to go to sleep and are usually more relaxed. I sit them in my lap, or hold them on my lap with their back against my stomach. If you have a kitten that you think may struggle, you can also wrap them in a towel, and take out one paw at a time to make clipping easier.
I hold the clipper in my right hand and squeeze the kitten’s foot just in front of the pad with my left hand. Pressing here on their foot makes their toenails extend out past their toes and makes the nails easier to cut. Most cats have four toes on their front feet and a dewclaw, which is their equivalent to our thumb. Their back feet usually have four toes, without a dew claw. Then I hook their nail in the groove of the nail scissors and clip. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend or just want to try clipping your cat’s nails yourself, to see if you want to do this at home; an inexpensive way is to take your toenail clipper (if you don’t mind sharing) and use that to snip off the sharp ends of the toenails. I’ve use this method too, and it also works well.
If your cat’s nails are white, pay close attention to where the nail turns pink. This is called the quick and is where the nerves and blood vessels end in the nail. You don’t want to cut into this or too close to it, as it can cause bleeding and pain for your cat. I suggest you try and cut at least 1/8” to 1/4” from the quick (toward the tip of the nail). If your cat’s nails happen to be a dark color, just snip off the end of the nail, this way you are less apt to hit the quick.  
You can save time, money and gas by clipping your cat’s nails at home yourself. Not only that, it is a great time to bond further with your cat. And who couldn’t use a little more cuddle time with their favorite feline.
Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.