How to Take Care of a Cat or Dog’s Claws?


Translated by Nick R

Keeping your pet’s nails neat is part of a good hygiene routine, and uncared nails can cause problems for both you and your friend.

I’ll explain why you must pay attention to your feline or canine’s nails and how to maintain them in the best way.

Importance of nail care in dogs 

If we don’t take proper care of our dog’s nails, it will have problems resting its paw on the ground; if the nail is too long, it will impede the paw to rest properly.

On the other hand, long nails can start to curl and dig into your dog’s paw prints while walking, causing wounds and, therefore, pain. Also, scratching may cause wounds or even make the nails split.

In addition, they can easily get entangled in objects and end up breaking in a very painful way, therefore it is very important to cut them from time to time and clean them to avoid the appearance of fungus or bacteria that can cause infections.

How to cut your dog’s nails 

You can take your dog to a vet or dog groomer if you want a professional to cut its nails, but if you decide to do it yourself, here’s how to do it:


The first thing you must keep in mind when cutting your furry’s nails is the vein inside the nail called hyponychium; it must not be cut because it will cause a lot of pain to the dog, and it will also bleed and possibly cause an infection.

So you should examine your canine’s nails thoroughly. You’ll notice a pink line inside the nail which is the vein that cannot be cut. Some dogs have black nails so you should be more careful, it is advisable to first go to a veterinarian who will explain to you how far to cut.


There are different types of nail clippers for dogs: scissors, which are like normal scissors with sharp blades to cut the nails and a plastic handle; and guillotines, which look like pliers and the nail has to be inserted through the hole to cut. For small or medium dogs, you can use scissors.

Note: it is advisable to get an astringent powder for dogs or animals because if you get to cut the nail vein, this will stop the bleeding.

Calm environment 

The best time to cut its nails is when your dog is calm, it can be after exercising, so it will be tired and without much energy to resist or avoid the cut.

Introduce the nail clipper 

Your canine must get used to the nail clippers first before you start trimming its nails. Let it see it and smell it so it doesn’t get scared of it. It’s important that your pet associates this with positive stimuli so while it familiarizes with the tool, you can reward it with treats and cuddles.


Ask someone to help you hold your dog and entertain it while you cut its nails, this way you will prevent it from moving too much.

Quick trimming 

Be careful when trimming, but be sure to do it quickly or your furry friend may get nervous or tired and won’t let you finish the cutting. Apply enough force to cut them quickly and without discomfort.

Recommendation: if your dog doesn’t like you touching its paws, you must accustom it little by little before you start cutting its nails. Do it every once in a while to help it relax and understand that you won’t hurt it.

Filing your dog’s nails 

This is an excellent option if you are afraid of using nail clippers and hurting your dog’s nails. For this, get a dog nail file, which is electric and very easy to use.

Just like cutting its nails, you must comply with the following conditions:

Quiet environment 

Make sure your fluffy one is calm and not too energetic; it would be perfect to do it after exercising. Also, make sure it doesn’t have a lot of distractions.

Introduce the nail file 

You should also let it get used to the file so it is not afraid of it. Let it touch it, smell it and even give rewards and caress for it to associate it with a positive stimulus.

File its nails 

To file the nails you only have to turn on the electric nail file and put your dog’s nails on the rotating wheel that it has on its head. You can just file, or cut the nail first and then file it perfectly.  

Frequency of nail trimming or filing for dogs 

The frequency of trimming or filing depends on each dog, but in general, it’s recommended at least once a month. However, watch how long your dog’s nails are so you can trim them before they cause problems with walking.

A tip to know when your dog needs a nail trim is if you start hearing the nails tapping against the ground as it walks. Also, you can examine them and make sure that they don’t go beyond the print, if they do, it will need a little filing or trimming.

On the other hand, dogs that get plenty of exercises and take daily walks will naturally file their nails against the ground and will not probably need to have them trimmed often.

Importance of nail care in cats 

Nails are very important for cats. They use them to defend themselves, climb, hunt, play, and even communicate as they allow them to mark territory.

Keep in mind that cats’ nails are retractile, so they won’t file them against the ground when walking, but since they use them for different activities, they can keep them in perfect condition themselves.

If your cat often goes outdoors, it’s advisable not to keep its nails short or to trim them too often; they will need them outdoors. In addition, cats that spend a lot of time outdoors will naturally file their nails against surfaces, but keep them the right size to defend themselves, hunt or climb. So, if your feline spends a lot of time outdoors you don’t have to cut them, they take care of them themselves.  

On the other hand, if your cat is a house cat and doesn’t go out at all, it is necessary to cut its nails from time to time to prevent them from getting easily entangled and breaking.

How to trim your cat’s nails? 

You can choose to take your cat to a professional to cut its nails, however, if you want to do it yourself, here’s how to do it:

Nail veins in cats 

When cutting your cat’s nails, you must be careful with the pink part inside the nail. If you cut it, you will cause pain and bleeding. Also, it is advisable to cut only the tip because, as I said before, cats’ nails are very important for them and should not be so short. The vein is at the root of the nail and extends a little.

Introduce the trimming process 

Let your cat get used to the nail clippers and create an environment of positive reinforcement; that is, introduce the instruments to your cat, let it examine them, and provide affection, treats, and positive verbal encouragement as you bring them closer to your cat. This way your cat won’t be frightened or stressed.

Calm environment 

Do the trimming when the cat is calm and relaxed, so it will be more willing to have its nails trimmed.

Tools for trimming 

You must use a special nail clipper for cats, they come in the form of scissors with a round tip in which you insert the nail to cut.

Start the trimming 

To cut the nails simply press your cat’s footprint so that the nail pops out, then use the special cat nail clippers and cut the tip of the nail, avoiding the pink part of the root.


As you trim the nails you can reward your cat to keep it calm and happy.


If your cat doesn’t like to have its paws touched and won’t let you cut its nails, wrap it in a towel and leave only the paw outside so it doesn’t run away or scratch you.

Filing your cat’s nails 

As I said before, if your cat has access to the outside, it will file its nails on its own against the different surfaces as it climbs and plays. However, if your cat is sedentary and you don’t let it go outside, you can get scratching posts.

These are great for felines as they can entertain themselves, file their nails, rest, and stimulate their curiosity.


Scratchers come in all kinds and can be adapted to the space you have at home. Examples are:

  • Tower: is the largest one and offers different designs with posts and caves where your cat can rest. It’s excellent if you have more than one feline at home.
  • Flat scratchers: these are placed on the floor. They are not for climbing, but your cat will have fun scratching and playing on it.
  • Tree: these come with different posts and hanging toys such as pellets so your cat can entertain itself and move through the scratcher easily.
  • Posts: these ones are quite simple, consisting of a flat surface and a post in the middle that can be made of different materials such as cardboard, wood, sisal (cabuya rope), or plush. Your cat can scratch on these posts and keep its nails trimmed. Cats can even use them to stretch out.


Onychectomy or nail declawing is when cats’ nails are removed. Some feline owners choose to perform this procedure because they don’t like their cat scratching their things or to prevent their cats from scratching them.

However, this procedure is like mutilation for cats. You already know that nails are very important and something very characteristic of felines.

The procedure can even make it difficult for the feline to walk, and it will be deprived of many of its common activities.

On the other hand, declawing is a very painful procedure and can present complications in more than 50% of the cases.

So, better take the time to educate your cat, install scratching posts and groom its nails to avoid this rather unpleasant option.


In both dogs and cats, proper nail maintenance is necessary to avoid damage that can cause them a lot of pain.

In the case of cats, particularly, it is not at all advisable to declaw their nails just for the owner’s comfort. Keep this in mind before getting a feline, and if you don’t want or can’t take the time to make the house habitable for your pet, it’s better to think of another option such as a dog.