Tips & Advise: Nail Trimming!


For most pet owners, nail trimming is a necessary evil. Unfortunately, our pets tend to think its more evil than necessary. Here are a few quick pointers on keeping your pets nails in tip-top shape, while avoiding the typical stresses associated with nail trimming. 

  1. Take your time and go slowly. There’s no law that says you have to clip every single nail in the same day. Try just one paw a day, and if that’s too stressful for your pet, only do a single nail. Stay as calm as possible so that the animal doesn’t pick up on any of your own anxiety.
  2. Make positive associations! Gently pet your cat or dog, and talk to them in a soothing voice. Feed them bite-sized treats after each nail gets trimmed.
  3. Use distraction to your advantage. Here’s a tip that’s worth its weight in gold- Give your cat or dog a treat that distracts them from the act of having their claws clipped.
  4. Keep your pet secure. If your pet is small, keep them on your lap and hold them gently but firmly with one hand while you clip with the other. If you have a large cat or dog, have them lay down and make sure you are holding them secure. If you need help, ask a friend to hold them for you.
  5. Make it routine. The more regularly you trim your pets nails, the more comfortable they will be with it.  Regular nail trimming also has the added advantage of shrinking the quick (the pink inner part of the nail that can bleed), which is especially important for animals whose nails have suffered from overgrown nails for a long period of time. Aim for once every 7-10 days.
  6. Use sharp, well maintained equipment. Dull clippers tend to crack and twist nails rather than cut them, which can cause your pet pain.
  7. With dark nails, less is more. Only remove little pieces at a time, since the pigment makes it impossible to see the quick inside the nail. When you start to see a white “pulp”, stop clipping and move to the next nail.

So, how do you get started clipping your pets nails? First, make sure you are in a quiet, relaxing environment where your animal will be able to stay somewhat calm. If your pet is small, place them on your lap. Larger animals can lay down next to you.

  • Take up one paw at a time and be sure to praise the animal in a soothing voice.
  • Look over each nail before you trim it to make sure it isn’t cracked or bleeding.


Gently pressing down on a cat’s toes to expose the claws. Photo credit: AlexanderY via photopincc

  • For cats, gently press down on the top of the toe to expose the claw.
  • Clip off the hooked tip of the nail, being sure not to clip too much. If the nail is clear, you should be able to see the pinkish-red “quick” inside. Do not clip this, or you pet will bleed. Instead, clip just a little bit below this point.
  • If you clip too far and the nail starts to bleed, don’t panic. One good episode of freaking out can be enough to make your pet fearful of nail trimming for the rest of their life. Just try to keep as calm as possible, and dip the nail in either a styptic powder or a little bit of corn starch. The bleeding should stop within a few minutes.

For more info on nail trimming check out the following links: – helpful charts/images

Hope you found this useful!


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24 thoughts on “Tips & Advise: Nail Trimming!

  1. Laura (PA Pict) says:

    Thank you for the tip regarding giving them a treat after each nail is clipped. I have been giving treats at the end of the whole clipping session but I am going to try this approach.

  2. Espirational says:

    Good information! For us, this is a two person job. Bob holds and I clip. We have also found that wrapping the cat in their favorite blanket helps to keep them calm.

  3. Sara says:

    With my cat Goose, nail trimming is a barter. A treat for a claw, and he lets me know when he’s had enough by pulling his paw away an biting my knuckles. Usually, I get between 3 and 5 nails a session.

  4. Pingback: Cutiess – Lazy Girl Blogging

  5. atrangizindagieksafar says:

    Once you take care of the quick and use a proper nail clipper all is OK… good info.

    BTW you were to publish my guest post on 19th March… did you publish it and I missed the link? in that Case could you please send me the link. If I have the date wrong then could you please let me know the correct date

  6. rcollab says:

    Our cats nails have been such a big problem lately, since she is older the nails aren’t shedding as they should. I looked it up online to see if anyone else was having this issue, and they called it “grandma nails” because when the nails get clipped or when they finally do break off they shatter into bits and pieces. She hates getting her nails clipped even with treats offered. So we found that rolling her up like a burrito helps a lot. Sorry for the rant! Thanks for the post.

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