It is important to check the nails of your rabbit, dog, cat, or bird. Nails that are too long can be very uncomfortable for your pet and might result in them not being able to walk properly. Not just that, nails can grow inward which could injure your pet’s paws or feet. If your cat’s nails are too long, they might get stuck and rip which could hurt your cat. Walking on different surfaces will help the nails to stay short, however, you still need to check to ensure they aren’t growing inward.
Cutting dog's nails
Every dog has 5 nails on its front legs and one of those is located higher on the paw, like a thumb. Some dogs might have a fifth nail on their hind legs, which we call Dewclaw. These don’t touch the ground and don’t wear down, so it’s sensible to check these nails. When your dog is standing up, the nails should either slightly touch the ground, or be a tiny bit above the ground.
Cutting cat's nails
Similar to dogs, cats have 5 nails on each paw. One of those is the ‘thumb nail’. Cat do tend to take care of their nails themselves. By scratching, they’ll remove the outer layer, which keeps their nails sharp and clean, so make sure you place a scratching post in your house. In some cases it’s still sensible to check your cat’s nails:
- Elderly cats: Elderly cats tend to struggle a bit more when it comes to keeping their nails clean. They get less active and their nails can grow longer.
- Indoor cats: If your cat isn’t allowed to go outside, the nails won’t wear down naturally by walking on rough surfaces and climbing trees.
- Overweight cats: Overweight cats are less active, which will result in the nails growing longer.
Rabbits and rodents
Rabbits have 5 nails on their front paws and 4 on their back paws. Their nails will always grow, and whether they will wear down depends on the bedding he sits on, if he’s allowed to dig and how many times he’s allowed outside.
There are many different clippers and trimmers to keep your pet’s nails nice and short. It’s best to use a clipper that’s meant for animals. Make sure the clipper is easy to hold. The Trixie Nail Clippers have 2 blades and they have an anti-slip rubber coating to prevent the tool from slipping out of your hands. The Mikki Nail Clippers has 4 different clippers you can choose from in their assortment so there is something for every pet. We also have clippers that make trimming a bit easier, like the Nail Clipper Guillotine from Mikki. There’s a circular opening you can put the nail in. When you close down on the tool, the knife will cut the nail. For rabbits and rodents, we provide smaller clippers like the Trixie Nail Scissors. For our full nail clipper assortment, please visit our page here.
Getting your pet used to nail clipping
Make sure to start very slowly to ease your pet. Nail clipping can be a bit scary for pets so if your animal is a bit rowdy and stressed, cutting their nails will become way harder. It’s best to avoid these situations. Start by holding your pet’s paws, petting them, and checking their nails. You can practice things like these without actually cutting their nails. It’s best to do this while they’re still young too. This way, your pet will get used to someone holding and touching their paws.
Cutting their nails
Hold the paw with one hand, and grab the nail between your thumb and your index finger so you can cut the nail with your other hand. By applying a small amount of pressure, the nail will appear. It is important that you only cut the tip and not the quick. If the nail is light of colour, you can see the quick as it’s slightly pinker. If your pet has dark nails, it’s really hard to see the quick so only cut off a small amount. If you are not sure, it’s best to ask your vet.
When cutting the nails of the front paws, it’s best to let your dog sit. If you want to cut the nails of the hind legs, it’s best for your dog to lie down. It’s up to you and your pet to find the position that works for you both. Some pets are more relaxed lying down than sitting, and vice versa.
When cutting nails of smaller animals like rodents or rabbits, it’s best to do this with 2 people. One can hold the pet, while the other can cut their nails. Sometimes it’s easier to wrap your rabbit in a towel with one paw sticking out. This tends to calm rabbits down. Again, ensure to not cut in the quick.
What happens if I accidentally cut the quick?
Nails can bleed a lot of you if cut off too much. Don’t panic and put pressure on the nail with gauze until the bleeding stops. If there’s a lot of blood, you can also bandage the nail, but don’t keep the bandage on for longer than 10 minutes. If it doesn’t stop bleeding, you should go and see your vet.