Creating kinder, gentler experiences for pets!




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Pet Perception Management by Dr. Rolan Tripp

Dog and Cat Pedicures

Although nail trimming may never make David Lettermen's "Top Ten List of Favorite Things" for your pet, it doesn't need to be a dreaded event. When it comes to nail trimming, it doesn't have to hurt to be good! 

If you do trim your pet's nails, take only the tip off.  If you cut into the quick (the pink, living tissue inside the nail closet to the paw), it will HURT!  When in doubt, consult with you pet's veterinarian.

Without regular trimming, cat nails can grow into the paw pad and may get caught on objects.  Cats will typically prevent this problem by scratching on the trees or posts that you provide.

Have you been practicing gentling exercises with your pet?  If so, it will make trimming the nails so much easier.  If not, expand your gentling routine to include the feet.

Canine Gentling
Feline Gentling

Begin by desensitizing your pet to the handling of the feet and nails.  Make this a gentle foot massage while they are sleepy or very relaxed.  Over time, you can practice wriggling each nail and tapping on each toe. 

This may take a few days or weeks depending on your pet's age and level of anxiety.  Make an effort to handle the feet during feeding time (i.e., associate touching the feet with a positive experience).

The key is to release the foot before you pet begins struggling.  Remember to give verbal praise, lots of attention and food treats after each toenail is filed or clipped.

Nail Files
Once your pet is totally relaxed with you wriggling nails and tapping toes, bring out a nail file. Do just a little filing on a few toes, linking this experience to happy talk and food treats.  In time, the will allow you to file all nails. If your pet resists, stop, give a short break and begin again more slowly.

Introducing the dreaded nail clippers 
Allow your pet to sniff and investigate the nail clippers while you are giving tasty morsels of food. Once your pet is no longer interested, begin to trim off only the sharpest "hooked tip" of the nail. This is approximately 1/8th of an inch for a brand new puppy or kitten and just the tip in older dogs and cats. 

You may trim one toe nail daily or your pet may allow you to trim them all in one session. 


  • Trimming with a nail trimmer causes the nails to have 2 sharp edges.  Use a nail file or emery board to file the nails after trimming to blunt the edges of you pet's nails.
  • Some pets will let you do anything with one hand if the other is offering a food treat.
  • Don't forget the dewclaws.  The toes that are located on the inside of the front and sometimes rear paws (similar to where a thumb is located on humans)

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...::::::: Copyright 2000-Present  All Rights Reserved by Rolan Tripp, DVM  and Susan Tripp, MS, Animal Behavior Network and Associates :::::::...