Ash Veterinary Clinic


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Add Trimming Pet Nails to Your To-Do List

              Trimming your pet’s nails is often not pleasant for you or your pet. Because of that, many people leave the task to their groomer or veterinarian. The thing is, seeing these professionals more frequently will help your pet be more comfortable during this process. We have a process in which two people are involved trimming nails. Not only does it allow for the trimming to be done quickly but it allows the pet to be distracted during the trimming. Long nails can make walking uncomfortable and can even cause lameness. At Ash Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Center, we want to make the nail trimming process a little easier for everyone.

                In order to trim nails safely, you need to understand the anatomy of your pet’s toenails. Each nail has a blood vessel inside and the trick is to trim to just beyond the end of this vein. If you nick it, the nail will bleed and your pet may yelp. Everyone hits this vein on occasion, even veterinarians, which is why you should be sure to have “clot powder” on hand, to help stop the bleeding, before you start trimming. You can purchase this at any pet store.

                If your dog has light-colored toenails, the blood vessel is the pink area, so you can trim the nail all the way to this point. Black nails are harder to figure out, though. We recommend clipping the nail back a little at a time. As you approach the nail’s quick, a black circle will appear in the center of your pet’s nails. This is the “quick” that surrounds the middle of the vessel (see illustration). This is the point in which you should not go back any further because the center blood vessel is just beyond that quick. If you go too far and the nail starts to bleed, take a pinch of the powder and press it against the exposed bottom of the nail for a few seconds to stop the bleeding.

                If your dog’s nails are so long that they are forcing their foot out of position, you can take them back to where they should be in two ways. The first is to cut a little off every week. The quick recedes before you as you go. This is the most common way to do it. The second way is to have your veterinarian take them all the way back at once when your dog is under anesthesia, such as for a teeth-cleaning. After the nails are at a proper length, keeping them that way is easy with a monthly trim. Some doctors do not prefer to do them like this so make sure you talk to the veterinarian.

                If your dog is resistant to having their nails trimmed, work up to the task. We recommend playing with your pet’s feet from an early age to get them used to having their feet handled. When your pet is used to having their feet handled, take the trimmer in hand and touch it to their feet, toes and, then the nails. Make sure to praise and give your pets treat for each step. Next, put the trimmer against the nail and praise and treat more still. Then trim a little off, and so on. Praise and more praise! Treats and more treats! Do not insist on getting all the nails done at once. Do one or two toes a night, and put the trimmers away while both you and the dog are feeling positive about the experience.

                Some dogs prefer having their nails ground instead of clipped, but some dogs also do not like the sound of the grinder. The most important thing to remember when grinding is that nails can get hot while you are working on them. Do not grind continuously. Touch the grinder to the nail in very short bursts to keep the heat from building up.

Long nails can catch on upholstery or snag on carpet which can cause the nail to break or bleed. Keeping your pet’s nails short will prevent injury. If you are nervous about trimming your pet’s nails, your pet will pick up on this energy and be nervous too. At Ash Veterinary Clinic and Emergency Center, our staff is trained to handle your pet and make the nail trimming process as painless as possible. If you would like to schedule an appointment to have your pet’s nails trimmed, please call us at 734-782-2827. We can set up a time to bring your pet in and have our licensed technicians and staff show you how to trim your pet’s nails yourself. This is a complimentary service that we extend to owners to help you be comfortable to do this at home with a helper.

[4:06:25 PM] Dianne Raftopoulos: