Trimming Your Pet’s Nails
By Dr. Jennifer Seco
You may think that giving your pet a pedicure is solely for cosmetic purposes, but, in actuality making sure your pet's nails are not too long is essential for their health and wellbeing.
There are several important reasons why you should always make sure your pet's nails are cut to the proper length, but, what is the proper length? If you can hear your pet's nails clicking on the floor as they walk, their nails are too long. Your pet's nails should not touch the ground upon standing. Overgrown nails can cause your pet discomfort when walking, running or standing. The nail, if too long can grow into the paw pad or soft tissue on your dog or cat's paws and this can be very painful for them. Infections, deformity, breakage and accidental removal of the nails are also serious consequences in allowing your pet's nails to get too long, so making sure that the nails are trimmed will avoid a myriad of complications for your furry companion.
When clipping your pet's nails for the first time, it is very important to make yourself familiar with your pet's claws, some claws are lighter in color than others, therefore making the job of grooming them a bit easier. In the center of your pet's claw, there is something called, "the quick", this is the living flesh, containing blood vessels and nerves, you want to avoid cutting into it when trimming the claws because bleeding and pain will result. Most cats have light-colored claws making it very easy to see the pink fleshy color in the middle, and you want to cut within 2 millimeters of this area, the same goes for dogs with light-colored claws as well. If your pet has dark claws, go slowly, hold the paw firmly and trim a tiny piece, about 1/16th of an inch and look into the claw you just trimmed, if you only see a whitish color then it's safe to trim a bit more, you can continue to do this because when getting close to the quick you will begin to see a dark area in the center of the claw, you will likely see this as it will begin to turn pinkish right before hitting the quick. In essence, it's wise to stop as soon as the surface that you cut shows a black center. When clipping your pet's claws it's always good to have something called styptic powder handy, this product comes in pencil or powder form and stops bleeding by contracting the blood vessels, should you cut a little too deeply.
Claw clipping can be a little intimidating for some pet owners, but, cutting into the quick area of your pet's claws is not usually a life-threatening event, your dog or cat may squirm a little and bleed some, but they will soon recover and you will likely be better at it the next time. Claw trimming is usually a once a month or biweekly task, but if you feel like you don't want to risk hurting your little guy, then your local pet groomer or veterinarian is always an option.