How to Trim Your Pet’s Nails

Trimming your pet’s nails is very important. Trimming the nails helps to prevent them from growing too long and curling around into the pad of your pet’s paw.  This can be very painful and can also lead to infection.  Trimming your dog’s and cat’s nails also helps to aid in the pet’s mobility; nails that are left too long can inhibit them from walking properly.  This especially becomes important in older animals that already have reduced mobility.

What will I need?

Nail Trimmers: Various types of nail trimmers are available at the pet store.  Choose a pair that you feel most comfortable with and are appropriate for the size of your pet.

Kwik Stop:  This is used to stop the bleeding if a nail is accidentally clipped too short.  This is always nice to have on hand incase this happens!

Nail Trimmers


How do I trim my pet’s nails?

Trimming your pet’s nails can seem very daunting and the fear of clipping their quick alarms many owners.  When attempting to trim your pet’s nails try some of these tips to help you:

  • Have someone there to help you:
    • Having someone there to help hold your pet or keep them distracted can really help with the success of your nail trim.
  • Use plenty of treats and rewards:
    • Use treats and praise when trimming their nails.  Reward them for letting you trim their nails and staying still.  Associating treats and praise with trimming their nails will make it a positive experience.
  • Go SLOW:
    • Go very slow; there is no need to rush!  To get your pet used to you handling their feet, play with their toes and nails every day and reward them for letting you do so.  Gradually move on to trimming their nails.  At first just do a couple of them and give them plenty of praise.  Eventually you can work your way up to doing a whole paw and then the entire nail trimming in one sitting.  Going slow makes them more accepting of the nail trim.  It is like teaching them a new trick!

How do I avoid the quick?

White Nails vs. Black Nails

When looking at white nails it is easier to locate the quick.  Looking at the side of the nail you can see where it turns pink.  You want to trim before that point leaving a little bit of white visible.


When looking at black nails it is a bit harder to locate the quick, but there are a few tricks to help you.  When looking at the side of the black nail it will often have a shiny tip and become dull as it goes towards the nail bed or paw.  The quick usually lies right where the nail turns dull.  Another trick is taking off small sections at a time.  As you take small sections off look directly at the nail, once you start to see a small black dot appear that is a good indication that you are close to the quick and you shouldn’t trim any shorter.

If you should happen to hit the quick, try not to panic.  Simply apply some of the powdered “kwik stop” directly on the tip of the nail that is bleeding and hold it for a few seconds.  You may need to apply a few rounds before it stops.

With all of these tips I hope it makes trimming your pet’s nails at home easier for you.  But for those that cannot be done at home we offer nail trimming services at the clinic.  Just call to book an appointment with one of our technicians.


By Tanya Jones