Nail clipping can be quite the ordeal (at least in my household). I have two cats, Luna and Luxor, 7 years old and 1 year old respectively and a dog, Lupe, 8 years old. When I first started out caring for my animals, I had no idea of the importance of nail clipping and by the time I figured out, I was way past the point of the delicate puppy/kitten “socializing” window, a time perfect for a malleable puppy or kitten brain to realize everything new does not equate scary. Regardless, after multiple trials and errors, I was still able to incorporate nail clipping (and teeth brushing!) into our routines. Tackling this issue at a young age, between approximately 4 and 16 weeks of age, is best. But, if you adopted an older dog or are getting into the game a little late, don’t fear!
The problem with nail clipping (again, for me at least) is that there is a blood vessel inside the nail and if you accidentally hit it, you can cause some pain and bleeding. The blood vessel is referred to as the “quick”. In animals with white nails, it is really easy to see the quick. Both Luna and Luxor have white nails. So it is super easy to clip their nails fast and effectively. But for Lupe, his nails are all black and I am unable to know where that quick starts.
In the beginning, I tried the infamous “PediPaws™”. Pedipaws™ (and other related items) is a tool that allows you to gently grind/file down your pup’s nails instead of using a clipper. Pro: You do not have to worry about hitting that quick and causing some unnecessary bleeding. Con: The noise! Although the soft whirring of the grinder is nothing to human ears, it was everything to my 2 year old Labrador at the time, so we let that ship sail. However, it is a viable option and I do still recommend it.
Now, I just use the nail clipper. Unfortunately with this tool, I do have to worry about the quick. Plus, most dogs and cats do not like their paws touched. So to make the experience a little less scary, I introduce lots of yummy, low calorie treats. Nail clipping is still scary for my dog and my cats, which is understandable. But, I try to be patient and move carefully, but swiftly. I also always keep some styptic powder on hand, which can stop the incessant bleeding when the quick is accidentally hit.
Here are some things I did/do, which could be helpful to try and make nail clipping a better experience for both you and your animal. Just remember, it gets better the more you do it!
Tips for Cats:
Luckily most cats’ nails are white! I “scruff” my kitties by gently holding on to the skin between their neck and shoulders. I call this their deactivate button :) Then, I grab a friend/spouse/roommate, etc. Ask him/her to gently press on the paw on the kitten and this will protract the nails. Quickly snip each nail, being mindful of that quick! Reward with lots of treats and cat nip. Equate nail clipping to treats galore!!
Tips for Dogs:
Dogs are trickier. As I mentioned earlier, try to associate the nail clippers with treats. Keep it out on the table for a few weeks, put some treats next to it, anything like that. When you are ready to clip, try grabbing a buddy again. Have them give treats while you do the clipping. It serves as a distraction and a reward! Watch out for the quick, again. If the nails are black, it is better to cut shorter. But always keep some styptic powder on hand, in case of an accident.
Your animals trust you! You are their fearless leader. Don’t be afraid to get in there and take charge. Overgrown nails can hurt your furry friend and can even grow into the paw pad. Taking care of an out of hand situation is worse than taking care of a routine one :)