How to Trim Your Pet's Nails at Home

There are so many things that we need to learn when getting a new pet, and one of the most intimidating things to learn is how to trim their nails as a lot of owners are nervous that they may “quick” their pet. It is always best to do this with your pet when you first get them so that they become used to the process of having someone touch their feet and clip their nails. It is always a good idea to have a styptic powder such as Kwik Stop handy just in case you happen to knick their quick.

Learning how to do nail trims at home may be a lot less stressful on your pet than going to the vet or groomer to have it done, and being able to cut them more frequently will help keep those nails short and prevent the quick from actually growing out.

Follow these simple instructions to trim your fur baby’s nails successfully:

  1. Before starting, be sure that you play with your pet’s feet regularly to be sure that they are used to having their feet touched (praise and lots of treats come in handy here!). Have a look at the nails. Are they dark? White? Make sure the trimmers that you are using are sharp and that they are the appropriate size for the pet. (i.e. do not use large dog nail trimmers on a small dog or cat). We recommend using a scissor style nail trimmer because the guillotine style tends to crush the nail as you trim them.
  2. Hold your pets foot firmly but gently. Angle the nail trimmers 45° and trim away a small amount at a time. If the nails are dark, keep an eye on the end of the nail because you will be able to see a change in colour where the quick is. If they have clear/white nails, you will be able to have a good idea about where to stop because the quick will be visible.
  3. Stop trimming when you see the white inside the nail because the quick will not be far from this point. If you happen to accidentally “quick” your furry friend, apply Kwik Stop (or your choice of styptic powder) to the end of the nail and apply some pressure to stop any bleeding.

Be sure to check/cut your pet’s nails every four weeks depending on the wear from the amount of activity they get, and if there is ever a time, you would like to be shown how to trim nails contact your veterinarian or groomer for a demonstration.

Written by: Halifax Animal Hospital