Skip to main content

How to clip your pet’s nails at home

By May 15, 2015 February 28th, 2019 Uncategorized

Healthy paws and claws require routine trimming for most dogs and cats. If nails are not kept short, it can make it difficult for your pet to walk, cause injuries when the nails become caught, and cause painful infections if they grow into the paw pads.

Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed and healthy does not necessarily require a trip to the groomer or to your veterinarian in Markham. Many pets can become accustomed to the procedure, so you can perform a nail trim safely in the comfort of your own home.

Unless you’ve never seen a cat or a dog, you already know their claws are different. Dog nails are not retractable, whereas cat nails are. The latter are visible only if the animal flexes its paws for scratching, gripping, stretching, or hunting. Although both cat and dog nails wear down on their own, with cats actually shedding their claws occasionally, it’s still important to trim nails, especially if your home mainly features carpeting and other highly-scratchable surfaces. Dogs, for example, require hard surfaces in order for their claws to wear down.


Dog nails can be a bit tricky to cut at first. If your pet has white nails, you can usually see the pink quick inside. The quick is the area inside the nail that supplies blood and nerves to the area, which is why it can be painful if the nail is cut too short.

Depending on the size and strength of your dog, you may need assistance to hold him still during his pedicure. You can always ask your veterinarian in Markham for suggestions on how best to hold your furry friend during their pedicure.  Feel free to have your helper feed treats like peanut butter or cheese to distract your pooch. Using a dog nail clipper, start by taking off a little at a time. Once you get close to the quick, stop and move on to the next nail.

Black nails are a little harder to judge.  Cut off only a little at a time. When you are close to the quick, you will start to see a white circle in the middle of the nail. Once you see this, stop trimming and move onto the next nail.


Cat nails are much easier to trim than dog nails. They are almost always white, which helps you see the quick much easier. The trickiest part is holding a squirmy cat still long enough!

To cut cat nails, you will need a small nail trimmer, and you can even use a human nail trimmer in a pinch. Gently hold your kitty in your lap, or wrap her in a towel. You will need to push down on the top of each toe to expose the claw. When trimming cat claws, you only need to cut off the pointy “hook” and it is usually very easy to distinguish how much can be safely trimmed off.

If your cat becomes stressed; starts growling, hissing, or trying to bite you, let her go and try again later. You may need to do one nail at a time and take a break. Try to bribe Kitty with her favorite treats or canned food before and after the procedure.

If you happen to nick the quick while cutting, you can use a powdered anti-coagulant like Quik-stop.  If you don’t have this, you can use flour, cornstarch, or even a bar of soap scraped on the area to control bleeding.

If you are having trouble with trimming, or if your pet is too difficult to handle during nail trims, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian in Markham for assistance. We can give you a lesson on how to do this properly. Here is a Youtube Link  in which we demonstrate a nail clip.

Unfortunately, some pets really hate their nails trimmed, and may even need a sedative or tranquilizer for the safety of all involved. This would require a prescription from your veterinarian in Markham, or a short stay in the hospital for some injectable medications as a short-term solution. For long term resolution, we may refer you to a reputable trainer to work on desensitizing your pet to nail trimming.

If you found this blog informative, please share it with your friends on Facebook.


Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

Leave a Reply