Pet Forum

Tips to Cutting Your Cat’s Nails – Timing and Treats Help!

Our cats are inherently scratchers. They love to stretch, stick out those claws and scratch anything they can!  We love to keep our furniture and skin intact, so it’s important to trim your cat’s nails every few weeks.  As our cats get older, their nails thicken and they aren’t at sharp as when they were kittens.  Since we cat owners know that declawing is NOT an option, here are some tips to help you trim your cat’s nails.

We know our kitties hate getting their nails trimmed, but with the correct tools, patience and practice, you can learn how to cut your cat’s nails quickly and efficiently.  The key is to take your time, bring treats, and perhaps even someone to help you.  Obviously, you don’t want to trim your cat if he or she is in ‘hyper mode’.  The best time to trim a cat’s nails is right after he or she has woken up and is groggy. 

Choosing the correct cat trimmers

There are plenty of tools available to trim a cat's claws; use the one that works best for you and your pet.  Some people prefer a special pair of scissors modified to hold a cat's claw in place, others prefer human nail clippers, and still others choose pliers-like clippers or those with a sliding "guillotine" blade. Whatever your tool of choice, be sure the blade remains sharp; the blunt pressure from dull blades may hurt an animal and cause a nail to split or bleed. Keep something to stop bleeding, such as styptic powder, cornstarch, or a dry bar of soap (to rub the bleeding nail across), nearby.

Approach your kitty slowly while ‘hiding’ your trimmers

If you approach your kitty with a sharp object in one hand while trying to grab his or her paw with the other, odds are you'll come up empty-handed. Because cats' temperaments and dispositions vary greatly, there is no "perfect" way to handle your kitty while trimming his claws.  You know best what your kitty prefers.

Cutting Cats Nails

Time for a trim!

Some cats do well with no restraint at all, but most cats need to be held firmly but gently to make sure that no one gets hurt. Try taking your kitty in the crook of one arm while holding one paw with the other hand. Or, you can put your cat on your lap and lift one paw at a time. You may even be able to convince a particularly sociable cat to lie back in your lap.

Trimming your nails sometimes takes two people

If you've got a helper, ask your friend or family member to hold your kitty while you clip his or her nails, or just ask him to scratch your cat's favorite spot or offer up a special treat while you do the trimming. The goal is to keep your kitty in place and still for as long as you can while you go at it!

Take it one paw at a time

Now that you're in position and your kitty is ready to go, it’s time to place your cat’s claw in the right position. Take your cat’s paw in your hand and use your thumb and pointer finger to gently press down on the top and bottom of the paw on the joint just behind the claw. This will cause the claw to extend so you can quickly but carefully snip off the sharp tip and no more.

Don't get too close to the pink part of the nail called "the quick," where blood vessels and nerve endings lie. Just like the pink part of a human fingernail, the quick is very sensitive; cutting into this area will likely cause bleeding and pain.  If this happens, apply a little pressure to the very tip of the claw, dip the claw in a bit of styptic powder or cornstarch, and/or rub your nail across a dry bar of soap. Don't continue if your cat is very angry, but keep an eye on him to be sure the bleeding stops.

You can get away with only cutting the front nails

It's common to only cut the front claws, but take a look at your kitty’s rear claws just in case they've gotten too long or their sharp tips hurt you when your cat leaps on or off your lap. Since most cats fuss more about having their rear claws clipped, start with the front claws. (I have never clipped my Sammy’s back claws and never had an issue with them).

You might need more than one session to cut your cat’s nails

If you aren't able to trim all ten nails at once, don't worry. Few cats can stay still for more than a few minutes, so take what you can get and then be on the lookout for the next opportunity to cut your cat’s nails.  ALWAYS praise your cat with love and/or treats after a cutting session so your kitty can start associating the process as a good thing that gets rewarded.  As always, practice makes perfect and the more you try to cut your kitty’s nails, the easier it becomes for both of you.

If the process it too hard for you, it is advised to have your veterinarian cut your cat’s nails or you can also take your kitty to a professional groomer.  Some cats don’t mind getting their nails cut, while others just won’t tolerate it. Either way, it is very important for your cat’s health and your furniture to keep your cat’s nails short.


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Should You Cut Your Dog’s Nails – Absolutely!

Many dogs will wear down their nails naturally by walking and playing, especially if your walk involves cement and/or hard surfaces. An inactive dog may not wear their nails down as readily. And, of course an older dog will often gravitate towards grass and softer ground and will prefer not to walk on hard surfaces, so their nails will not naturally wear down as much either.  In all cases, it is important to look at your dog’s nails and keep them on the shorter side.

What is the correct length for your dog’s nails?

If your dog's nails are too long, you will hear them clack when your dog walks on hard surfaces.  Another way to tell if your dog’s nails are too long is if your pup’s claws protrude over the pad and touch the ground when your dog is standing.

Make nail trimming a positive experience

Many dogs find nail trimming annoying and try to avoid it at all costs!  Some dogs naturally dislike the sensation of people handling their feet. Trimming can also cause discomfort when the clippers squeeze or slightly twist the nail. It can even cause pain and bleeding if you accidentally cut the nail too short and hit the sensitive quick.

Luckily, you can help your dog learn to tolerate, and maybe even enjoy, nail trimming. If your dog learns that nail trimming leads to fun perks, like special treats, brand-new chew toys, the start of a favorite game, your pup learn to love it. So whenever you trim your dog’s nails, immediately follow it with things that your dog loves. For example, clip a nail and then feed your dog a delicious treat. Clip another nail or two and feed another treat. With repetition and a little time, your dog will probably decide that getting his nails done is not frightening and worth the effort and rewards.

Here is a video that might help you cut your dog’s nails


Cutting your dog's nails

Make sure to purchase a specially made implement for the job of cutting your dog's nails. There are several styles of nail trimmers available. Guillotine nail clippers are often the easiest to use and work well for small breeds. Plier dog nail clippers with a scissors type action are also very effective and especially suit larger breeds or if the dog has strong, thick nails. Look for a claw cutter with sharp stainless steel blades and a comfortable handle with plenty of grip.

Trim your dog’s nails one at a time

Choose a nail to trim. Take your dog’s toe and hold it firmly but gently between your fingers. If you’re using a scissors-type trimmer, hold them at a right angle to the nail with the tip of the nail between the blades. Quickly squeeze the handles to close the scissors and cut the nail. If you’re using a guillotine-type trimmer, insert the tip of your dog’s nail into the hole, holding the trimmer perpendicular to the nail so that you cut from top to bottom, not side to side.  You should face the cutting blade toward you rather than your dog. To produce a cleaner cut, you can face the cutting blade toward your dog, but you won’t be able to see exactly where the blade will make contact with the nail. Choose whichever orientation makes you most comfortable. When you’ve positioned the trimmer in the right place, squeeze the handles to cut through your dog’s nail.

Where to Trim

Knowing where to trim a nail takes some skill. If your dog has clear nails, you can see the live quick, which looks pink. Cut the nail no closer than about two millimeters from the quick. If your dog has dark nails, you can avoid cutting into the quick by trimming one little sliver of nail at a time, starting with the tip. As you cut slices off your dog’s nail, look at the exposed edge of the cut nail. Eventually, you’ll see a gray or pink oval starting to appear. Stop trimming when you see the oval. If you don’t, you’ll cut into the quick, causing pain and bleeding. Another option with black nails is to have an assistant use a flashlight to back-light each of your dog’s nails while you trim. The light from behind the nail allows you to clearly see the pink quick.

Some hints for cutting dark nails:

Try shining a bright light towards you and through the claw or looking on the underside of the nail where the quick is often more visible.  Applying baby oil also does the same thing.

If you accidentally cut your dog’s nail too short and it starts to bleed, hold some tissue tightly to the bleeding. Alternatively, use a styptic pencil, styptic powder or styptic pads to stop blood flow. Even without treatment, the bleeding should stop within about 5 minutes. If your dog licks the wound, it will slow the healing and clotting process and bleed for a bit longer.

Trim your dog's nails regularly

Most dogs do not like having their nails trimmed. It is inherently a good idea to get your dog used to having their paws handled at a young age if possible, or at any age by gentle handling and praise. Take things slowly. You don't have to do all the claws in one session.

Keeping your dog's nails trimmed is important and you should try to look at your dog’s nails as part of your usual health routine with your dog.  If your dog’s nails aren’t trimmed properly, your dog could get infections, broken or ingrown nails and other painful conditions. So with just a little bit of effort and know how, you can keep your dogs’ feet in excellent condition.


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Dogs and Your Vacation – The Various Options


The holidays are sneaking up on us and a lot of us plan our vacations during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.  Or sometimes, you just want to get away for a long weekend or to visit relatives.  And if you own a dog or dogs, you don’t always bring want to bring them along with you, particularly if it is a short trip.  Therefore, you want to consider the best option to make you and your ‘kids’ feel comfortable when you are on your vacation.

Below are some different options depending on your budget and/or dog’s needs and adaptability.

Have a family member or neighbor watch over your dog

If you are only going for a short time, try to get a family member or friend to come by and feed your dog.  And, hopefully, you can also make sure to have them take your dog out and for a walk.  While this can be a lot to ask of a friend, you can also swap the favor when they go on vacation.  Make sure to ask someone who has a dog so they know the routine on caring for a dog.

A pet sitter is another great option to take care of your dog

If you don’t have a friend that can take care of your dog, there are numerous pet sitters that can stop by or some who even spend the night.  A pet sitter is a viable option (make sure to get some recommendations) as they are trained to be with pets or specifically dogs and therefore have the knowledge of what your dog needs and/or any special care for your pup.  If your dog needs medication of any sort, a pet sitter is the way to go.  It is too much pressure for a friend or even family member to know how to give your dogs’ medication when you are away.

Can I Come With You

Can I come with you?

As always, make sure your pet sitter (or anyone who watches over your dog) is given all the emergency telephone numbers, just in case. Leave a number where he or she can reach you, and write down your veterinarian’s telephone number and the nearest emergency hospital as well.  You can tell your pet sitter, also, the special needs of your dog and/or preferences.  And, of course, since you are paying a pet sitter, he or she needs to attend to those needs as well as walking your dog on a daily basis.

You can take your dog to a boarding facility

You can take your dog to a boarding facility or a dog hotel. There are so many out there to choose from and you should get a recommendation from a friend.  And, of course, you will want to tour the facility to make sure it meets you and your dog’s standards.  Some questions you might want to think about and ask their staff are: How much play time do the dogs have throughout the day? Where do they go to the bathroom? What is the feeding schedule? Does the staff know how to administer medications? Is there an on-site staff 24/7?  Is it climate controlled? What are the procedures for emergencies? What can you bring for your dog?

If your dog is more comfortable around other dogs and likes to play, ask about an option for a ‘play date’ with the other dogs.  See if they will schedule it ahead of time.   Or, maybe your dog isn’t that social; then, you want to be sure that only the staff plays with him or her.

You can take your dog with you on your vacation

You could take your dog with you on a vacation, particularly if it is an extended trip. If you do this, make sure that any housing arrangements you’ve made (hotels, motels, etc.) are pet-friendly.  There is a great new site, called where you can book your vacation and find a pet friendly hotel for your cats or dog all through one site. They also give some of the proceeds to various pet rescues groups!

If you plan in advance the best option for your dog and make sure that all his or her needs are taken care of while you away, your dog will be fine.  You can go on your vacation and feel comfortable that your dogs are in good hands!


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Halloween Can Be a Scary Time for Your Pets

While Halloween is a fun time for kids and adults, it can be a very scary night for your pets.  While we are all dressed up and having a fun time (and some of our pets dress up too), it is important to keep your eyes on your pets so they don’t get too scared or sick.

Below are some tips and/or reminders of what to look out for to keep your pets safe on Halloween.

1. Watch out for the trick or treats. That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for your dog or cat. Chocolate in all forms, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach aches in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your dog or cat could suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

Halloween Pet Advice


4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive and part of the ritual, but please be careful if you decide to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume if your pet resists it (some pets don’t mind it, while other hate it). For pets who prefer their native fur, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your dog or cat, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict your dog or cat’s movement, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your dog or cat seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, put a fun bandana or something festive that doesn’t bother him or her.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. Keep your dogs and cats confined and away from the door. Not only will your door be constantly opening and closing on Halloween, but strangers will be dressed in unusual costumes and yelling loudly for their candy. This, of course, is scary for our furry friends. Dogs are especially territorial and may become anxious and growl at innocent trick-or-treaters. Putting your dog or cat in a secure room away from the front door will also prevent them from darting outside into the night … a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.

9. Keep your outdoor cats inside several days before and several days after Halloween. Outdoor cats’ are known to get lost on Halloween.  Black cats are especially threatened as well.

10. Make sure that your dog or cats have their proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

If you follow the necessary precautions, it can make Halloween a much less scary time for your pets.

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Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language – From Eyes to Tails

Dogs are very expressive animals. They communicate when they’re feeling happy, sad, nervous, fearful and angry and they use their faces and bodies to convey much of this information. Dog body language is an elaborate and sophisticated system of nonverbal communication that we can learn to interpret.  As you get to know your dog and spend more time with your pups, you can learn their non-verbal communication fairly predictably.

Dogs use facial expressions, ears, eyes, tails and their overall demeanor to signal their feelings to others. There are so many nuances in understanding your dog’s body language and one way to approach a fundamental understanding is to learn what their different body part are telling us.  This can also be helpful when approaching or meeting a new dog.

Your dog’s facial expression

Your dog’s basic facial expressions can tell you a great deal about how he’s feeling.  You can see it in his or her face whether he or she is content, scared, sleepy or just calm.  It’s the first place to look and then you can get more specific.

Your dog’s eyes

The direction of your dog’s eyes can also be telling. Dogs rarely look directly into each other’s eyes because this is considered a threat. However, most dogs learn that it’s okay, even pleasant, to look directly at people. A dog who looks at you with a relaxed facial expression is being friendly and hoping that you’ll notice him. A dog who looks directly at you, actually staring at you with a tense facial expression, is not exactly friendly. A direct stare is much more likely to be a threat, and if you’re near a dog with this expression, you might want to look away!

Dog Body Language Parts

This is my friendly look!

If your dog doesn’t look directly at you, but instead looks out of the corners of his eyes so that you see a more of the whites of his eyes, he might be leading up to an aggressive outburst. This usually happens when a dog is guarding a chew bone, toy or favorite spot. It’s different than the eye of a dog who is resting with his head and opens his eyes to give you a sideways glance. In this case, he won’t appear rigid or tense, and you won’t see much of the whites of his eyes.

Your dog’s mouth

Dogs do a lot more with their mouths than just eat and drink. Even though they can’t use their mouths to talk, the way they position their lips, jaws and teeth speaks volumes. When your dog is relaxed and happy, he’s likely to have his mouth closed or slightly opened. If your pup’s mouth is open, he may be panting-this is how dogs cool their bodies. You might see his teeth because his mouth is slightly opened.

A dog that is frightened or feeling submissive probably has his mouth closed. His lips might be pulled back slightly at the corners. He might flick his tongue in and out, or he might lick if he’s interacting with a person or another animal. When he’s feeling uptight, he might yawn in an exaggerated fashion.

Some dogs show a half grin when they’re feeling submissive. They pull their lips up vertically and display their front teeth. This half grin is usually accompanied by an overall submissive body posture, such as a lowered head, yelping or whining, and squinty eyes. Only some dogs “grin” this way.

Your dog’s ears

When your dog is relaxed and comfortable, he’ll hold his ears naturally. When he’s alert, he’ll raise them higher on his head and he’ll direct them toward whatever’s holding his interest. Your dog will also raise his ears up and forward when he’s feeling aggressive. If your dog has his ears pulled back slightly, his intention is to be friendly. If his ears are completely flattened or stuck out to the sides of his head, he’s usually frightened or feeling submissive.

Your dog’s tail

When your dog is relaxed, he’ll hold his tail in its natural position. If he’s feeling happy, he may wag it gently from side to side. If he’s really happy, like when he greets you after being apart from you, his tail will wag more forcefully from side to side or might even move in a circular pattern. If your dog feels nervous or submissive, he’ll hold his tail lower and might even tuck it between his rear legs. He may still wag it from side to side, often at a more rapid pace than if he’s relaxed. If he’s really scared or feeling extremely submissive, he’ll hold his tail tucked up tight against his belly.

When your dog is alert or aroused about something, he’ll probably hold his tail higher than normal. He’ll hold it stiff, without any movement. If he’s standing his ground or threatening someone (a person or another animal), your dog might holds his tail stiff and high and moves it rigidly back and forth. It might look like he’s wagging his tail, but everything else about his body tells you that he’s not feeling friendly at the moment.

There are so many nuances to understanding your dog and as you get to know the different body parts and what they are ‘telling you’, you can interpret in advance how your dog is feeling as a whole!


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