Trimming Your Puppy's Nails

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Nail Trimming is Essential to Your Pet’s Health

Scroll down to the bottom of this article for a helpful video on nail trimming!

You don’t have to be nervous or afraid to trim your pet’s nails. You can learn to trim them without stressing your pet; all it takes is a little patience and training. Sometimes the training takes just minutes and other times you may need to practice for weeks with twice daily sessions – it depends on your pet.

It is essential that your pet’s nails are trimmed on a regular basis. Some potential problems if left untrimmed:
    •    Increased trips to the veterinarian because of pain or breakage
    •    Pain
    •    Abnormal gait
    •    Infection
    •    Lameness
    •    Nails can grow so long that they curve back into the paw pads
    •    Long nails can scratch you and other members of your family

Both dogs and cats can be trained to allow, and even enjoy, the toenail trim process. Ideally, you begin training your pet when they are a puppy or kitten. This is no longer an option for those with adult pets, but fear not, an older pet can be trained! The key is to pair trimming with something positive such as a treat. Training is performed in steps and you must have patience with your pets.

Some pets are terrified at the sight of the toenail clippers. This is easily remedied. Place the trimmers near their food bowl so they have to walk past and be near them every day when they eat. You can also put a treat, such as canned food, peanut butter or spray cheese, on the nail trimmer handles so that the pet can lick the treat off every time they walk by. Do not do this if your trimmers are small or if your pet eats strange objects.

When your pet no longer displays fear at the sight of the trimmers, it’s time to move on to the next step. The easiest variation uses two people — one to give treats and one to handle the feet. First, have the pet sit in a comfortable position. Start by giving treats and simultaneously rubbing just above the paw. The goal is to get the pet to focus on the food. After several seconds of rubbing, stop. Wait about five seconds and then repeat the procedure. You want to make it clear to your pet that their feet being handled equals treats.

When your pet is comfortable with this step, move on to the next step, which involves handling the feet more vigorously while tapping the nails with the trimmers, and giving treats all the while. Next, practice putting the clippers over the nail so your pet becomes accustomed to the feel of the trimmers paired with treats. The final step is pairing the actual toenail clipping action with treats.

Make sure to avoid clipping into the pink part of the nail that contains the blood vessel and nerves (quick), because if your pet has a painful experience while you are conditioning him, it will really set the process back. In fact, in the beginning you should only trim off the very tips of your pet’s nails. This will allow your pet to get used to having his or her nails cut and it will also be less stressful for you. During the conditioning period, it is so important for your pet to find the process pleasant and non-painful.

The video link posted below is really helpful, so be sure to click on the link and watch the video before attempting conditioning. Finally, relax. If you are calm, your pet is more likely to be calm. Feel free to call or write to us if you have more questions on trimming your pet’s mails.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH NAIL TRIMMING VIDEO (video from Dr. Sophia Yin, a veterinarian at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists.)