Tips and tricks for clipping your pets’ nails

Tips and tricks for clipping your pets’ nails

With the reduction of services linked to social distancing and confinement, many pet owners are required to provide certain types of care that are usually performed by professionals, including clipping nails.

May 12, 2020

The golden rule: the experience must be as positive as possible for your furry friend.

Make sure to have a number of treats on hand for the duration of the task. In addition, take your time and work gradually – you do not need to do all four paws in one session.

Each nail clipped calmly is a victory!

What you need
You will need a sharp nail clipper adapted to the size of your pet, many treats and a product to manage bleeding in case of an accident. We recommend using scissor-type nail clippers, rather than the guillotine type. “Kwik Stop”, which is available in veterinary clinics, as well as silver nitrate sticks, provide good results when trying to control bleeding.

Step-by-step
We recommend having a partner, so someone can hold the animal in place. This will allow the person clipping the nails to concentrate on the task, while the partner immobilizes your pet, giving them treats and cuddles.

For black nails: to avoid cutting the vein, clip gradually making small slices, following the claw’s curve from the tip to the base.

Want to know if your technique is effective? A good indicator for short nails while maintaining a safe length is the appearance of a slightly glossy black ring when looking at the claw from the front (see following photo). If you cut any further, you will hurt the animal. It is best to leave the claw slightly longer to avoid painful bleeding, rather than cutting too short.

For white claws: clipping is easier, just stop cutting before the pink part of the claw.

Optional: newly clipped claws can be abrasive. For added comfort, you can file down the tip.

Good to know: the length of blood vessels varies from one animal to another. The more frequently nails are clipped, the more the blood vessels shorten. In the case that your pet has not had their nails clipped in a long time, you can cut them shorter gradually over time at regular intervals.

When and why clip your pet’s nails? The frequency at which you should clip your pet’s nails depends on their wear against the ground. Four to six weeks is usually a good amount of time between clippings. Claws that are much too long can curve inwards towards the pads, interfering with the animal’s gait and even causing injuries.

The worst-case scenario: in case of bleeding, keep calm, even though it may be impressive. Apply product to control the bleeding and maintain pressure with clean gauze or tissue for the time it takes for a scab to form, if the product alone is insufficient.


Text from José Manuel Guay, veterinarian

Photos: personal collection


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