Written by Jocelyn Husch, AHT
Trimming your pet’s nails is an important part of maintaining their overall health. When first starting it out it can be overwhelming, if not daunting to think about doing if you have never clipped nails before. At Mill Creek Animal Hospital we are more than happy to complete the task for you or to demonstrate the steps on your pet, but if you feel like trying to give your pet a pampering mani and pedi here are some tips:
Before even introducing nail trimmers to your pet’s precious toes, you should spend some time allowing them to get use to you holding their paws and manipulating the toes. Typically in clinic we do have them laying down on their side, so doing this while giving some belly rubs wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Once your pet is comfortable with you handling their paws this might take some time, and some pets might not become completely comfortable, if this is the case a second person might be needed to hold your pet steady). I typically start with the back feet. Grab your nail trimmers (I personally like the ones that look like scissors vs the guillotine style that can easily snag nails causing more issues). Expose one nail at a time and start by taking small amounts off. I use the same method for both black and white nails. As you slowly work your way towards a shorter nail, watch the middle of the nail, you are looking for the centre to start having a “meaty” appearance (and if you very gently use your nail the centre will be soft). This is where you would want to stop. Repeat for each nail. The more often you trim your pet’s nails the more comfortable you will become. With more frequent nail trims this will allow you to keep your pet’s nails nice and short, if they grow out too much the quick in the middle will start to become longer, leaving you with a smaller amount of nail tip that you can remove.
Now if the worst case scenario happens…you clip the quick. What this means is that you have cut into the blood supply for the nail, it often looks worse than it really is. First, take a deep breath. Second apply direct pressure to the nail for a couple of minutes (and don’t forget to breathe). It can be nerve wrecking when it happens, but realize that your pet will be alright.
If pressure is completely helping you can apply some flour or cornstarch to the tip of the nail that is bleeding, this will help to clot the blood. Don’t try to remove this once the bleeding has stopped, but rather let it wear off on its own. If that doesn’t help, you can contact your veterinary clinic for additional advice. Just keep in mind that a bleeding toe nail often looks worse than it is. It often happens to the most seasoned mani/pedi experts in the field, practice just decreases the frequency.
I hope this helps put your mind at ease that you CAN do a nail trim at home. If you ever have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us at Mill Creek Animal Hospital to assist you in whatever you might need.