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Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital

How to Trim Nails

Trimming a pets nails is a very important part of routine grooming care but can often be overlooked. Nails continue to grow throughout the pets life and require trimming or filing. Trimming is often needed every 4-8 weeks in most pets.

It is always easiest to start when the pet is young to get them habituated to the grooming and handling. White nails are easiest and we are thankful when we see them! White nails are more “see-through” and therefore one can visualize the vessel, or quick, that is within the nail. Trimming the nail to just before the quick allows for the shortest nail without cutting the vessel or hitting the nerve. This is best achieved with multiple small trims on the same nail.


Black nails are not “see-through” but have cues to watch for as well. These are best to do multiple small trims to be able to watch for the quick starting. The quick comes to a point at the end which will start to look like a white bull's eye in the center of the nail as it is being trimmed. Stop cutting when this bull's eye is seen.


If a quick has been trimmed and bleeding occurs, it can be staunched by packing flour or corn starch in the nail. Avoiding it is best as it is uncomfortable when hit.


There are many types of nail trimmers available, personal preference will apply. I like the curved blades that look similar to garden sheers. In my experience, the guillotine style trimmers will catch on the nail as the nail needs to be fed through the hole.

If your pets struggles, you are having difficulties or do not feel confident in nail trimming, we would be happy to help your pet and trim their nails! 

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