Pet Grooming 101 – Nail It

By Jamie Rankin

Pet grooming is about more than simply giving your pet a bath or running a brush or comb through his fur. Complete grooming also encompasses checking his eyes and ears, practicing good dental hygiene, and clipping his nails. That last item seems, at first, to be the simplest task of the lot. However, it’s more crucial to your pet’s health than you may think.

Untrimmed nails can get broken, leading to bleeding and soreness. Another danger is the possibility that the nail will simply keep growing, turning under until it grows back into the pad of your pet’s paw. This type of ingrown nail can be painful for your pet and a little tricky to remove. In the case of some pets, such as cats, overgrown nails can snag on clothing, carpets and rugs, or even furniture. This is why your pet’s nails should be trimmed every week or two.

To many pet owners, clipping nails is a dreaded chore. But, if you keep a few key tips in mind, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Getting Started

As with any task, it’s important to have the right equipment when preparing to clip your pet’s nails. Invest in a good pair of clippers or trimmers designed exclusively for pets. Often, nail clippers even are available for a specific type of animal. Dog nail clippers, for instance, may be slightly different from the ideal pair of nail trimmers for cats. Shop around or ask your veterinarian to give you an idea of what you need.

It’s also essential to make sure you approach your pet when he is feeling calm and safe. This is especially true if you are nervous about the task at hand, as your pet may pick up on your emotions and become a bit jumpy as well.

If your pet is unfamiliar with having his nails trimmed, start slowly. First, let him get used to you grasping and holding his paw. Then, slowly let him adapt to having his nails trimmed. You may need to begin with one paw, or even a couple of nails, at a time, taking a break when your pet begins to squirm or gets too excited. Eventually, you can work your way up to doing the whole job at once.

The Basics

The actual clipping of the nail is a fairly simple process. You need to gently lift and hold your pet’s paw, clipping it below the “quick,” or the blood vessel which runs down the middle of the nail. The quick is usually quite easily seen in pets with light-colored or clear nails. The quick can be difficult to spot in pets with darker nails, so if your pet falls into this category, you may want to recruit a helper. This person can assist you by holding your pet completely still to ensure that you don’t accidentally clip the quick, or by holding a small flashlight under your pet’s nails, making the quick a bit easier to distinguish from the rest of the nail.

In Case of an Accident

Should you accidentally cut the quick, your pet will flinch and the nail will bleed. Apply a bit of styptic and don’t worry too much. If you don’t panic, your pet will most likely take his cue from you and calm down quickly.

Jamie Rankin is a full-time, professional writer and co-founder of Creative Inklings LC, a full-service writing firm found online at Jamie is also the co-founder of a Pet PLR membership Web site.

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