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Cat and Dog Pedicure Tips - National Humane Education Society

March 17, 2022


Have you looked at your cat’s or dog’s paws lately? Are their nails too long, or do they have overgrown hair between their paw pads? If you answered yes, then you are not alone. Pedicure time can be stressful for both you and your furry friends, but it is necessary to keep their paws healthy. Nails that are too long can become embedded in their paw pads, causing pain and may lead to infections. Regular nail trimmings will prevent this.

If you are able and have the patience, learning how to cut your cat’s or dog’s nails safely can save you a trip to the vet that can cause additional stress to your cat or dog. Remember, it is important to make their pedicure experience a positive one by using treats, lots of praise, and affection! You can turn a once dreaded grooming habit into a breeze. So, where should you start? Look at their nails. Are they light or dark?

Cats’ nails, and dogs with light-colored nails, are the easiest to cut because you can see the blood vessel through the exterior of their nails. This blood vessel is called the quick. When trimming the nails, make sure you leave enough space right before the quick to ensure you don’t cut it, causing pain and bleeding. If you do cut the quick, stay calm and apply styptic powder to the nail. You may need to stop and resume the nail trim tomorrow. If your dog has dark-colored nails, it can be tough to determine where the quick is, so just cut off the curved tip. Repeat this process every two-three weeks, and you will become a pro!

Here are a few pointers to help pedicure time go smoothly:

  • Choose which type of nail clippers are best for you and your cat or dog. Do you prefer manual or electric nail clippers? (Make sure the manual nail clippers are sharp or the sanding bands for the electric nail clippers have been replaced.)
  • Take your cat or dog to a quiet, well-lit area.
  • Get in a comfortable position, and have your cat or dog sit or lie down.
  • Have someone help you hold your cat or smaller dog.  
  • Distract your cat or dog with lickable treats.
  • Gently, but firmly, hold your cat’s or dog’s paw in one hand and clip off the tip of the nail. (If your cat or dog keeps pulling their paw away, stop and try again tomorrow.)
  • Remember, patience is the key to success!
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