How to Trim Your Pet’s Toenails


The Importance of Regular Pet Toenail Trimming

It is important to keep your pet’s toenails short to avoid offsetting their natural posture and gait. Long toenails will affect their balance and their movement which can even lead to increased joint disease. Overgrown toenails can more easily get broken or catch on something. Ingrown toenails can lead to painful infections.

Why People Avoid Trimming

The two most common reasons people avoid trimming their pet’s nails are because their pet does not like having their paws handled or because they are afraid of “quicking” the nails. Quicking the nails means accidentally cutting into the sensitive quick (aka kwik) of the nail that bleeds. Learning the proper trimming technique as well as practice will help you avoid this. Desensitizing your dog or cat to having their paws handled on a daily bases with positive reinforcement will help with pets resistant to trimming. Spending a short time touching their paws and then offering a treat every day works for most dogs.

How To Trim Toenails

Most dogs and cats need their nails trimmed every two weeks.  Some very athletic dogs may not need them trimmed as often because they wear them down running. Outside cats need longer nails for climbing trees. If your pet has very long nails the best way to shorten them is to trim small amounts frequently- about once weekly- until they are at a normal length. The reasoning behind this is because the nail quick grows with the nail so you can only remove small amounts of the nail tip each time. As you trim the quick will recede back each time.  If you accidentally quick the nail and it bleeds- don’t worry your pet will be ok! Cornstarch works to help clot the bleeding but they will be ok without it. Try to avoid Quicking them because it hurts. Always make nail trimming a positive experience by offering a treat or a toy as well as praise.

Megan Hughes, DVM