Claws/nails must be kept trimmed for many reasons. One of these reasons is that the claws can curl back and grow into the animals foot pad. Just one example of an animal that can have serious problems with overgrown claws is the guinea pig. From rodents to birds, reptiles to mammals, every pet needs their feet kept healthy. You know how bad an ingrown nail hurts imagine an overgrown claw!
The first time you trim claws/nails it is a good idea to have someone help you, this person can assist by restraining the animal while you trim. If you are totally uncomfortable with the procedure take your pet to a veterinarian for the first nail trimming and watch the veterinarian closely. This should give you the confidence to do the procedure yourself the next time.
Make sure you have everything ready before you begin. One biggie is good lighting. It helps if you can see what you’re doing. A small bright flashlight can come in handy as well.
Other items you should have ready are a pair of high-quality guillotine-like clippers. Good quality clippers will give you a clean cut so that the nail doesn’t splinter. It is so much easier to control the amount of nail being cut. The size of the clippers will depend on the size of the animal. You will also need on hand several gauze pads, 2 towels, rubber kitchen sink liner, a product like Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder, (to control bleeding) betadine (broad spectrum topical iodophor microbicide), and alcohol to wipe each nail and to clean your equipment.
Before you begin, examine your pet’s nails in the light. Inside the nail you will see the quick which are areas inside the nails with living flesh. You don’t want to cut this, it will hurt the animal, could cause infection, and will bleed; often profusely. If the animal has light-colored nails this will be easy to see. If the animal has dark nails you will have to proceed with caution. I will explain this further.
You will want to cut between the end of the nail and the end of the quick. If it has been a long time since the nails have been cut, the quick may be very close to the end of the nail. This is where the bright flashlight comes in handy. You can see the quick much easier with the flashlight, kind of like candling an egg. Often, even with dark nails the quick can be seen while shining a flashlight. You will only want to cut a tiny portion of the nail without touching the quick. Using the same method, cut the nail again in about a week. Continue this process each week. Slowly the quick will begin to recede to where it belongs.
This will be the same method you will use if you have an animal with dark nails. A little at a time until the nail is cut to the length it should be. Again, using a flashlight may help you see the quick on a dark nail or claw.
Begin by properly restraining the animal. Apply alcohol to each nail to clean the nail and prevent infection, clip the nail, make sure there is no bleeding, dab the nail with betadine and your done. Wash and sanitize your equipment and put it away for next time.
If the quick is cut by mistake apply direct pressure with some of the gauze you have laid out. If this doesn’t stop the bleeding use the Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder. If this still doesn’t stop the bleeding apply direct pressure and take the animal to a veterinarian or a 24-hour emergency animal hospital.
If the animal needs to be restrained to cut the nail use a towel, size of towel depends on the size of the animal. Wrap the animal in the towel where you can take one foot out at a time. Towels also work great restraining birds. Just make sure the wings are secure. Some animals like dogs and cats can be held by the loose skin or scruff on the back of his or her neck.
Use the second towel or a rubber kitchen sink liner to keep the animal from sliding too much. Again, the method depends on the animal.
Once you cut the claws or nails a couple of times it becomes a very simple procedure. It can save your animal a lot of discomfort if you keep the nails cut on a regular timetable.
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