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How to Cut Your Pet's Nails

October 10th, 2011 Pets

Keeping your dog or cat's nails trimmed is not only good for saving your furniture and floors, but it helps your furry friend stay comfortable and prevents the nails from curling and growing into her footpads. Many animals don't like having their nails cut, but the best way to get them used to it is to start cutting them at a young age. If you're unsure about what you're doing, it's always best to take your pet to a groomer. However, if you're comfortable with doing it yourself, here's how, according to Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

1. First, make sure you have a suitable nail clipper. Cats are okay with nail clippers meant for humans, but for dogs you may want to invest in a guillotine or scissor nail cutter. If you use the guillotine variety, it's important to have the blade facing you rather than your pet.

2. Restrain your pet. You can hold cats and small dogs in your lap by using your forearms to hold them down over their neck and rear. Place large dogs on a table and use your body and forearms to restrain them.

3. Since cats have retractable claws, you'll have to gently squeeze between the toe to expose them.

4. If your pet has light colored nails, you will be able to see the "quick," which is the pink stripe at the base of the nail that has all of the blood vessels and nerves. It's important to avoid cutting this, as your pet could bleed and experience pain. Since you can't easily see the quick in darker nails, cut a little bit at a time until you begin to see a gray/pink oval near the top of the nail. You should cut nails about 2 millimeters from the quick.

5. Always cut from top to bottom or bottom to top, never side to side. Cutting sideways can crush the nail and make it split.

5. Don't forget to cut the dew claw, which is the nail on the back side of the paw. These aren't worn down when your pet walks, so they can grow long and curl inward.