Trim Pet Nails Without Fear

How to remove the fear of nail trims from both the pet and the owner.

Trimming a pet's toenails often cause fear and panic in the owners. They are afraid of cutting the nails too close causing their beloved pet pain and all blood must mean disaster. In fact, many owners would rather pay $12 to $18 at a veterinary clinic than face the ordeal themselves. Unfortunately the pet is often aware of these feelings in the owner and will either become fearful himself or play for sympathy with every bit of acting skill he has.

Nail care in dogs and cats is really not that different or difficult. By staying calm and familiarizing yourself with the actual nail, it can become as easy a routine as feeding.

Before attempting to trim your pet's nails, determine which type of clipper would be best for the job. Puppies and kittens can easily be done with a human fingernail clipper. Cats or small sized dogs use the ones that squeeze together like pliers and large dogs do best with the guillotine style. After your purchase play with your clippers to get a feel for the movement and amount of pressure needed for use then put them away for a few days.

Each day play with your dog's feet while he is lying down. Let him know he is a "good dog" each time he allows you to hold his foot or separate his toes. Do this a few times each day until he becomes accustomed to the idea of having his foot restrained.

Another thing you will want to do while playing with your dog's feet is to examine the toenails themselves. In cats it is easy to see the lighter area where the blood supply is. This is a small area similar in shape to the entire nail but starts at the actual toe and continues into the center of the nail.

Unfortunately, dogs often have dark nails and it is impossible to see the "quick". It is still possible to clip the nail without causing your dog to bleed.



Taking your dog's paw in a gentle yet firm grip, separate the toes so you can see one individual toe from a side view. While looking, take note of the notch like area on the underside of the nail. You will want to use the clippers on the far side of this notch. That means the side opposite of the paw itself.

When using the clippers on your pet's nails, the pliers type is to be used from side to side while the guillotine ones allow the nail to slip through the loop. Make sure the sliding blade is under the paw and moving up through the nail at a slight angle away from the paw. If you think of a clock, the notch of the toenail would be six o'clock and you would want the blade moving towards the one o'clock area.

Many owners find clipping nails to be easiest after the pet has eaten a good sized meal or played hard. They are often more relaxed and laid back during these times. Others find the help of a second person that snuggles the dog to them while placing a hand or arm behind the elbow of the leg being worked on is best. While cat owners often find wrapping their pet snugly with a towel works.

Any method that works for you is fine and it is to be remembered that even professionals occasionally cause bleeding of a pet's nail. If by some chance you do indeed clip the quick and cause bleeding, it is important to remain calm. A small drop of blood looks like a much larger amount when smeared over a counter or linoleum floor. There are two easy methods to stop the bleeding. One is a styptic pencil or powder of the kind men use for shaving. These will work to stop the bleeding by cauterizing the small vein. The other popular method is to press a small ice cube against the bleeding nail. This will not only numb the area, the cold will cause blood flow to slow in the nail so it can clot faster.

When a nail is cut too short, the pet will often jump, jerk and cry out. This is not uncommon and if the pet realizes you stopped because of a yelp, he will often use it again later to try and stop the procedure at a later date. It is vital for future nail trimming episodes to continue at this time.

After finishing each nail and don't forget the dewclaws on the insides of each front leg, let your pet go while praising him lavishly. All good behavior should be rewarded in some way so your pet will be encouraged to repeat it.

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