Tips for Trimming Your Pet’s Nails

A cat frowns while having its nails trimmed.

If your pet’s toenails are click, click, clicking their way across the floor it means it’s time for a “peticure.” A cat’s nails typically need trimming every two to three weeks, while a dog’s nails need clipped every two to six weeks depending upon the breed and lifestyle. 

Taking your pet to a professional groomer is one option, but frequent pet spa appointments aren’t always practical, particularly for cat parents! Here are tips from our team to help make at-home nail trims as stress-free as possible.

Why Trim a Pet’s Nails?

Trimming your pet’s nails should be part of your home pet grooming routine. Long nails put excess pressure on nail beds and make walking uncomfortable, plus, they can get caught on furniture or rugs. When your pet tries to pull free, she can tear the nail off or injure her leg. And severely overgrown nails can curl under and dig into the paw pad. 

Nail Trimming Strategies

Learning how to trim a cat’s nails or how to trim a dog’s nails requires patience and perseverance. Here’s a step-by-step approach to start you off on the right paw!

Start Early

The perfect time to get your pet accustomed to nail trimming is when she’s a puppy or kitten. But even older pets can get comfortable with having their paws touched. Begin by lovingly handling your pet, playing with her paws, and gently squeezing her toes to make her nails visible. Reward her with a treat (if she’s food motivated) or plenty of praise and scritches.

The Right Stuff

Choose a quality pet nail trimmer that suits your pet’s species and size. The decision to cut or grind dog nails depends on the size of the dog and thickness of the nails. We are happy to recommend appropriate grooming tools at your pet’s wellness visit.

Polite Introductions

Once your pet is comfortable with having her paws handled, introduce the nail clipper or grinder and just let her see it and sniff it. You want her to know there’s nothing to be scared of. Always reward her for staying calm.

Baby Steps

Once your pet is at ease with being handled and having the grooming tools nearby, gently squeeze one toe until the nail is extended, and trim the very tip only so you don’t cut the quick. Try one or two more nails and then stop. Reward her and let her move on. Let your pet’s reaction determine your rate of progress until you’re able to trim all of your pet’s nails—or as many as she will allow in one sitting.

Ask Us for Help

Getting your pet used to having her nails trimmed takes time and patience. Contact us for more advice on how to trim a cat’s nails or how to trim a dog’s nails, or to schedule a visit.