Unlike human nails that grow from cuticles, pet’s claws grow directly from the phalanx bone at the end of the pet’s toes. All dogs and cats nails have something called a “quick” in them. A quick is made up of tissue, nerves and blood vessels that feed from the bone into the claw. The longer the nail, the longer the quick. It is best to start trimming your pet’s nails as early in life as possible, so they can get used to it! It would be rather painful to cut into the quick of your pet’s claw so this is why we would like to share with you the correct way to trim your dog or cats claws.
The painful consequences of long pet nails
- In dogs, long toenails can be pushed back up into the nail bed. This causes the toes to become bent and puts enormous pressure on the toe joints. In extreme cases this can become arthritic!
- As evolution would have it, wild dog’s nails were kept nicely trimmed from running and hunting. Your dog’s brain associates nail and earth contact with climbing. In saying this, if your dog’s toenails are very long they will inherently manoeuvre themselves in this imaginary way more often than required. This puts enormous stress on their hind legs in particular, and can cause all kinds of joint issues later in life commonly known as pet arthritis. Short nails could add to the elimination of this very painful disease!
- In cats, despite wanting to save your furniture from constant cat kneading, cat claws appear to be softer. Softer claws mean the tendency for them to break more easily. Painful broken claws can lead to infection and all kinds of septic health issues
- Trimmed less sharp cat claws might also help your poor dog from getting those painful cat scratches every now and again!
How to do it in a stress-free way!
Prep your pet
If you’ve never trimmed your dog or cat’s nails before, it’s important that you get them used to the idea first. Many pets dislike having their paws handled and getting them used to it from a young age will make it much easier for them and you when they are grown up. Depending on size, you can either hold your pet in your lap, sit on the floor with him or get someone to hold him down on the table. Spend a day or two picking up your dog or cat’s paw, touching the toes and nails gently for a few seconds and then releasing the paw. Immediately afterwards, give him a tasty treat, take him for a walk or play his favourite game - in this way he’ll learn that nail trimming leads to good things!
After practising for another day or two, introduce the nail clippers. Pick up the paw and let the clippers touch the nail – don’t trim the nail yet! Follow up by giving your dog or cat another treat. Repeat this step for a few minutes.
Continuing practicing for another two days until your pet is relaxed and used to you handling his paws. A few good doses of PetCalm which is a 100% homeopathic remedy to calm and relax pets when they are stressed or anxious would definitely help in this situation! Try trimming a nail one at a time and follow up immediately with a delicious treat. The best time to trim your pet’s nails is when he is relaxed, well exercised and a bit sleepy.
How to trim your pet’s nails
- Hold your pet’s paw firmly but gently.
- Knowing where to trim is VERY IMPORTANT! If your pet has clear or light nails, it’s fairly easy to see where the quick ends – this is the pinkish colour! The quick is the blood vessel that runs down the middle of the nail.
- Choose which nail to trim and cut below the quick at a 45 degree angle using the cutting end of the clipper.
- If your pet has dark nails, be conservative in your clipping. If he will tolerate it, nip small thin slivers of nail at a time instead of one large piece. The general rule of thumb is to put the clippers flat against the pad and trim level with the pad to avoid clipping the quick. If you notice a pink or grey dot – STOP! This is the start of the quick and you will have to stop trimming now as you may cut into the quick which will cause bleeding and pain.
We hope we have helped you understand the importance of trimming your pet’s claws. It seems like such a daunting exercise but it really doesn’t have to be. The sooner you start the better! Just think of how you are helping your pet in the long run! If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us. We are always here to help!