Trimming a pet’s nails can be scary. Here are some tips on getting it done, whether DYI or by a pro – NOLA. com

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I’ve been grooming my dogs at home for several months now. I’d had the same groomer for over 15 years, but because of a move and a senior dog with a serious eye condition that seemed to flare up after visits to the groomer, I decided to watch a bunch of YouTube videos, buy a ridiculous amount of grooming supplies and attempt to groom my two long-haired dogs on my own.

I think I’m doing a pretty good job. However , where I draw the line is nail trimming — and expressing anal glands — as both are equally frightening to me.

Keeping our pets’ nails trimmed and clean are part of a healthy grooming routine and should be done on a regular basis. Some pet owners take these manicures into their own hands, while others leave it to the professionals. Personally, my vet is the one in charge of nail trims now, but some out there may be braver than I am.

Like squirmy toddlers that won’t sit still, pets could be challenging to pin down when it’s time for a nail trim. And if not done properly, this can cause a lot pain for the pet, not to mention stress for all involved.

If the family pet is a long-haired breed plus frequents the groomer, then the nail trimming can be handled there. The vet is also a great option to get the job done.

However , pet owners with cats or short-haired canines may want to attempt the nail trimming at home. If you decide to take the pet manicures into your personal hands, following are some tips to make the experience easier on all:

CATS: Cutting a cat’s claws every few weeks is important for maintaining their health. Regular maintenance will protect family members, other pets and also the furniture, drapes and more. Nail-trimming is also a great alternative to declawing, which involves surgical amputation and can be potentially painful for cats in addition to the risk of behavioral and health issues.

DOGS: The frequency of trimming often depends on how much time a dog spends outside and walking on pavement. However , on average, most dogs need their nails trimmed every four to eight weeks.

HANDLE THE PAWS: Get the pet used to having its paws handled. Some pets are sensitive about having their own paws touched. This can be a problem because the nails cannot be trimmed if they do not keep still. Try trimming just one toenail, just a little bit at a time, and offer a positive reward, like a treat, to encourage the process plus make it a positive experience.

THE TOOLS MATTER: Finding a trimmer that is comfortable to use makes a big difference. There are regular toe nail trimmers, and there are also battery-operated rotary tools that file down the nails, rather than cutting them.

DON’T CLIP THE QUICK: Some canines have black nails, some have white nails and some have a mixture of both. It is easy to spot the quick — the blood vessel inside the nail — on a white nail because the pink area where the quick begins is easy to see. However , on black nails, the quick is not visible.

It is crucial to take it nice and slow and to only clip a little bit off at a time to avoid clipping the quick. There is a circle inside the nail and once that is visible, the blood vessel is close, so stop there. If the quick is cut, there will be excessive bleeding and a lot of pain for the dog.

For cats, clip only the white part of the claw. It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail rather than risk lowering too far.

KEEP STYPTIC POWER NEARBY: If the quick is cut, there will be blood, and lots of it. Styptic powder will stop the bleeding. Keep it in arms reach just in case. This can be found at the local dog store, and the human version works just as well.

If the whole nail cutting process seems as scary to you as it does in my experience, know that there are alternatives to doing them at home. A vet can trim the nails as part of a regular wellness appointment, or at any time throughout the year, as needed. Also, most groomers will offer a la carte nail trimming services for a nominal fee.

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For information on ARNO, visit animalrescueneworleans. org .

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