February 3, 2023

Top Tips: How to ‘nail’ your pet’s cuticle health

Written by Charlotte from our Katikati clinic

Did you know that dogs aren’t the only ones who need their nails trimmed down? As we come into the summer months, vet clinics are receiving more and more animals whose nails have grown way out of control and are causing them a lot of pain. The ability to care for your pet’s nails are one of the easiest essential home healthcare strategies that should be on the top of every pet owner’s handbook! A task that may seem daunting can be much easier if you know the tips and tricks your favourite vet nurses use in clinic.

Let’s talk about timeframe

The biggest question we get as veterinary professionals is how often should I trim my pet’s nails? And the answer is not always straightforward. Just like in humans nail growth is highly dependant on the individual and some pets will have to be trimmed more often than others. As a rule of thumb if your dog’s nails are tapping on the hard floors as they walk, that’s a good indication that they need to be trimmed back. As for our feline friends it can be a bit more subjective but if they are getting stuck in the carpet too often it might be time for a trim.

Taking the stress out

Trimming a pet’s nails should not be a stressful experience for you or for your animal so starting to introduce a pet to the nail clippers and the feeling of having their paws held early in life is crucial to ensuring a pleasant experience for everyone involved. However even an old dog can learn a few new tricks when some yummy treats are involved! Familiarity with the process will make it easier on you and on your veterinary professionals if the time comes to bring them in for their pedicure!

Choosing the right tool for the job

Unlike humans, our furry friends have very uniquely shaped nails, and the right tools are essential for getting the job done efficiently. There are many different options for brands and styles of tool, but the list below covers the basics You will need

  • A sharp pair of dog/cat specific nail clippers
  • A clotting/styptic powder to correct any mistakes
  • A nail grinder/Dremel to smooth out rough edges
  • Lots of your pet’s favourite treats!

What’s the deal about quicks?

One of the biggest things that scares most first-time nail trimmers is what’s known as the quick. The quick (also called the hyponychium) is the junction between the hard nail and the skin of the toe. In pets this quick extends further out than in humans and is highly vascularised meaning that it bleeds at the slightest touch! However, if you know what you are looking for than this is not as scary as it may seem. The diagrams below demonstrate an easy way to avoid hitting the quick and what to look out for when getting close.

Avoiding ‘cat’astrophes

Unlike dogs, cats are usually very good at keeping their own nails in check. However, when a cat’s health becomes compromised, they can get into some trouble and it becomes time for owners to step in. Considering this, the recommendation is that you check even your healthy cats nails at least once every two weeks to make sure they have not grown out of their control. When trimming your cat’s nails, we need to keep in mind the lifestyle of the cat. For an outdoor cat we need to make sure than only the sharp tip of the nail is removed so that they can still have traction to climb and are not going to lose their balance when traversing the outdoors. Indoor only cats can be a bit more lenient, but we still do not wish to clip their nails as far as we would for our canine friends as they still have to maintain balance even when indoors. Some older cats’ claws have the tendency to curl around and grow back into their paw pad when not properly maintained and this can cause serious pain for the animal so should be avoided.

This is all too much, are there any other options?

YES! As your local vet we are experienced in nail trims of all, your animals and can take the stress out of this task for you and your animal. We provide lots of treats and a calm environment to make your pet comfortable whilst there are getting trimmed. We also offer the option of sedation for animals that find the experience not so pleasant. Just give us a call and we are happy to help! That’s all there is to it! Managing nail health is a crucial step to having a healthy happy animal and is not as scary as you might think! The staff at Katikati, Tauranga, Papamoa and Te Puna vets are always happy to talk to you about the best ways to maintain your pets nail health, so give us a call!