How to Trim Your Pet’s Nails Like A Pro



September 28, 2021

Unless your dog or cat gets a very frequent nail file job from running on pavement, a nail trim done by you is their best shot at warding off chronic paw discomfort, future injury, and potential deformity. You’re best off starting your pet at a young age so they learn a quick trim is no big deal, and your veterinarian or groomer can help too, but it’s a not an impossible task for you to learn and incorporate yourself. Check it out!

Clippers = Friends

Start handling your puppy or kitten’s feet and trimming their nails when they’re young! Here are some helpful steps for easing into it:


After that, give it a try. You know your pet’s personality—some dogs or cats of any age won’t mind having their nails cut. Others will. For the latter, try some form of distraction like having your pup lick peanut butter from a spoon while you’re trimming. Your body language and temperament contribute a lot to theirs too, so do your best to act happy and untroubled.

Do Not Cut to the Quick

The quick is tissue within the nail that connects to nerves and blood vessels. Cutting too far into the nail will cut this and cause some pain. When trimming, press on your pet’s pad to expose the full nail. If their nails are light, you should easily see the quick. Or look on the underside of the nail, and you should see a groove where hard nail turns to soft tissue. If you can’t see it, just go extremely slowly, taking a tiny bit at a time, and when you see a white or grey dot in the middle of the nail, stop. A general rule of thumb is to clip only the pointed end of the nail.

What if I Do Cut the Quick?

There’ll be some pain, but it won’t be catastrophic. It’s like when you cut your own nail too short. However a trimmed-too-far-pet-nail does tend to bleed a lot, so It’s good to have some styptic powder or gel on hand. These are clotting agents that will stop bleeding quickly. They’re cheap, and available at most pet stores.

Some alternatives are corn starch, baking soda, and flour. These will all stop the bleeding, but styptic powder is the only thing that will keep bacteria from entering the bloodstream.

If you see blood, apply pressure with a clean cloth or paper towel for two minutes. Then apply the styptic powder or alternative. Dab it on the end of the nail. If there’s still a lot of blood, apply more. Then try to keep the pet still for at least 30 minutes. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped by then, go to the vet.

How Often Should I Cut My Pet’s Nails?

It depends on your pet’s breed and lifestyle, and if their nails are ever ground down naturally by running on pavement. But on average, every 1-2 weeks for dogs is wise, and for your feline friends, to cut down on furniture shredding and the likelihood of accidentally hurting you while interacting, trim their front nails every two weeks, and back every three to four weeks. Consider having your vet do it the first time so you can observe. With either pet, if you can hear their nails click on the ground when they walk, it’s time to trim.

And it doesn’t hurt to have pet insurance on your side as you start your pet nail trimming journey. The best pet insurance is the kind that makes you feel supported in just about any situation. Bivvy covers accidents, x-rays and ultrasounds, surgery, hospitalization, emergency care, and more. But don’t just take it from us. Check out our page of Bivvy pet insurance reviews, where you’ll hear from pet parents like Kerry T., cat-mom to Chloe, who says she was “relieved,” knowing that with Bivvy she wouldn’t need to worry about the financial burden of any potential pet mishaps. She says, “The claims are really easy to file, and Bivvy is fast at reviewing them. Checks are mailed right away too which is a huge relief.”

So go ahead. Be an overachieving pet parent. Start trimming your dog or cat’s nails for their health and comfort. And get Bivvy pet insurance. Your future self—and your pet’s future self—will thank you.