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Pet Peeves: All Scratched Up

Q: My pet's nails are so sharp that when I play with him, I keep getting accidentally scratched. I would cut them myself but I don't know how to do it – how do I know how short is too short?

A: First off, buy a nail clipper designed specifically for your pet (cat, dog, small mammal, etc.) Identify the blood vessels in his nails or, in fancy vet speak, the "quick." On light colored nails, you can easily spot its pink color near the base of the nail. If nails are dark, be safe and trim only the very tips. When you're ready, speak in a reassuring voice, hold paw firmly to avoid movement, and cut quickly with one smooth stroke. If your pet is extra squirmy, it may be better to bring him to a vet, pet store, or groomer – most will cut your pet's nails for a small charge.


Arielrb38 Arielrb38 9 years
I'd like to second the comment about softpaws, I've used them a couple of times on my cats (my black kitty looks very seasonal with his orange nails right now), thought they are a little pricey and hard to find in retail locations (PetCo seems to carry only the clear ones). Also, if you are going to put them on your cats make sure that they don't get outside, or they won't be able to defend themselves in a streetfight (or climb up and down trees the way they are supposed to). I would highly suggest these, especially if you are making any sort of living addition (new pet, baby, whatever) to your home and are unsure of how your existing pet will react.
kritin220 kritin220 9 years
My poor puppy gets really car sick, so the only trips we subject him to are his check ups at the vet. He is a rather stocky basset hound, which means huge feet and toenails like macaroni noodles. After years of trying to find something that would cut his nails without completely traumatizing him, I picked up a the Bamboo 3-in-1 Nail Clipper for Cats and Dogs for under $10 and Beau can finally have his nails cut without me struggling to fit his big ole nails into that tiny little hole that most doggie nail clippers seem to have!
yn096 yn096 10 years
Tigred is right, especially with dark nails. I have a Dobie, and I just flip her foot over, so I can see the bottom of her foot. There you can easily spot the quick and make sure you do not hit it. My vet informed me that the quick grows with the nail, so if you don't clip them for a while, they can get really long, and then you can't cut them any shorter. So don't wait too long between clips.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 10 years
I'm too terrified to cut my dog's nails myself - I always take her to a groomer for $5. She's so squirmy and hates to have her paws/nails touched by anyone. She's the friendliest beagle ever, but the last time we got her nails clipped, she had to wear a muzzle! The big baby.
lisafrank lisafrank 10 years
Listen to Cesar Milan- exercise exercise exercise! I have the same problem with my dog if I am not taking him for as many sidewalk walks reguardless of what length his nails are. The sidewalk helps round of the edges so they arent soo scratchy
JessNess JessNess 10 years
I suggest taking them to a groomer or vet and just get everything done- nails, teeth, ears and glands (believe you will want to get them done by someone else its a gross job) It doesnt cost much and they will be highly more experienced. Plus the interaction with others is a great way to socialize your pet
eyesparkle eyesparkle 10 years
i take my dog to petsmart to have her nails clipped. to smooth them when they are freshly cut and sharp, we go for a few nice long walks on the sidewalk or street.
tigrid tigrid 10 years
I work in a grooming salon, just ask your groomer if they could show you how they do it. I don't mind showing people, I imagine other groomers wouldn't either. Instead of pulling the paw forward, turn it back going in the natural way the leg bends so your looking at the bottom of their foot. Cut off little by little that way in case you do hit the quick and it bleeds, it won't be too bad. At first the center of the nail will look dry and start to get wet looking as you get closer to the quick. In case you do make it bleed styptic powder is best but flour or cornstarch will work in a pinch. Just take a little and hold it on the cut for a bit. And don't feel bad if you quick the nail - even the pros do it, it's not an exact science. If it doesn't stop bleeding after 5 minutes though, I would contact a vet. Hope this helps someone!
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 10 years
Good tip Casa. I was about to post the same thing. Be careful if you cut your pet's nails. Invest in a styptic pencil/powder which halts the flow of blood. Even though it may sting for some animals (usually smaller animals feel it more), it's better than having them bleed everywhere.
liciababe liciababe 10 years
we use a dremel on our dogs nails when they get too long and we never have any trouble with quicking them ~
lilbumbleybees lilbumbleybees 10 years
to solve that problem, clip the tips of your furbabie's nails, then use a dremel to soften the edges. I do this for all six of my dogs. They get their nails done weekly to keep them short and in good condition.
BeachBarbie BeachBarbie 10 years
I just clipped Halo's (my puppy) nails. He was quite squirmy so, I had my hubby hold him and we both talked to him very sweetly..and I did it! :woohoo: I was thinking I'm probably going to have to take him to the vet or a groomer to get it done. (I'm soooo glad I did it correctly, too.)
ufshutterbabe ufshutterbabe 10 years
I use a dremel nail grinder as well. Over time you can trim closer to the quick and get it to recede, so you can keep your pet's nails pretty short. Maxwell doesn't seem to mind it at all.
Home Home 10 years
We've also found that by walking on sidewalks 2x a day the doggy nails get worn down naturally!
facin8me facin8me 10 years
I'm not sure what kind of animal your pet is, but soft paws makes claw caps for both cats and dogs. They're easy to apply once you get the hang of it and will save you, your furniture, and your floors from scratches. Cosmo and Bella both use Soft Paws (on their front paws) and handle them very well.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
I would suggest a Dremel or Pet Smaart will trim them for $10.00 if your not comfortable doing it yourself.
akrsouth akrsouth 10 years
Pippi gets hers done at the groomer but our dear friends use a dremel tool, similar to what nail tech at salons use. When you get close to the quick your pooch will let you know. This creates a nail that is not scratchy.
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