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How to Perform Stress Free Nail Trims

For many pets and pet owners, nail trims can be quite a stressful experience. Some pets are fearful as soon as the nail clippers come out, or as soon as they are held for a nail trim. There are many tips and tricks to help associate nail trims with a positive and fun experience.
Start from Scratch

Getting your pet used to nail trims involves starting from the very beginning. It is helpful if you start when they are young, but still very possible for older pets as well. A good way to start is to ensure your pet is comfortable with their paws being handled. Pick up each paw and praise greatly when you do so. When you feel they are comfortable enough, bring out the nail trimmers. Start by simply opening and closing them in front of your pet. Many pets are afraid of the clipping sound associated with the trimmers. Shower your pet with treats when the trimmers are out. When the trimmers are put away, you can stop giving treats. Once your pet is comfortable with being around the trimmers, you can start touching their toes with them. With each touch, a treat should be given. The most important thing about becoming used to nail trims is to make the experience a positive one. If your pet prefers a toy instead of a treat, award them with a short play session. Be patient with your pet, and praise any progress that they are showing, as this may take a while for them to get used to. When your pet is more comfortable, you can begin trimming the tips of the nails, awarding with a treat with each toe.

How to Trim

Hold the paw gently but firmly and begin trimming very small amounts off the tip. Some animals will have clear nails, making it easy to see the pink blood supply underneath (the “quick”). We want to avoid hitting the quick, and it can be sensitive and cause some bleeding. Animals with dark or black nails can be a little bit more challenging to trim. When trimming dark nails, go very slowly and look for a small dark circle in the centre of the nail. When you see this, stop trimming, as you are getting close to the quick. If you accidentally quick your pet, try not to panic. The bleeding can be stopped with styptic powder, or in a pinch, some cornstarch.

Ask for Help

If you are having issues trimming your pet’s nails, or you are uncomfortable with performing nail trims yourself, an appointment can be booked with our technicians. If you are simply unsure of how to perform a nail trim, during your appointment, a technician will gladly demonstrate to you how to do them properly at home. We always try to make our nail trims appointments as stress-free as possible, being generous with treats (please let us know of any food allergies). Each pet is different, and we always consider this when doing nail trims. We offer OSCAR nail trims on Thursdays 3-4:30 pm (for dogs) and Fridays 3-4:30 pm (for cats) for a minimum donation of $10 to help offer subsidized veterinary care for pets in need.

Written by Amy Lee, RVT

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The past 5 years at Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital have been incredible. Exciting, fun, challenging, heartbreaking, eye-opening, stressful, and at times, difficult; but amazing. Every day that passes, I have fallen more and more in love with animal medicine.

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Last updated: September 13, 2021

Dear Clients,

The province of Nova Scotia will enter Stage 5 of the COVID re-opening plan on September 15. Here is what Stage 5 will look like at Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital:

  • Masks are required for all clients entering our hospital, as well as for all our staff
  • Telemedicine appointments are available to anyone who cannot wear a mask inside our hospital
  • 1 client per exam room allowed (exceptions will be made for end of life procedures)
  • Credit cards are the preferred method of payment
  • Curbside pickup of food and medication is still available. Please call ahead of time so that we can have your order ready upon your arrival. A reminder that we require 48 hours notice for food and prescription orders. To place an order through our online store, visit our website and click on "Online Store".
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    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital