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The Importance of Nail Trims for Older Pets

posted in: Senior Pets

Dog and cat nails grow continuously, just like ours do. However, Nail Trimming is often an overlooked aspect of pet care, especially for our senior animals.

As our animal’s age, pets are much less likely to be able to wear their nails down quick enough by exercise alone to keep up with growth. The idea of short nails in pets may not seem like such a big deal, but the consequences of not keeping them trimmed can have a huge impact on our pets’ mobility and posture.

The effects of long nails

Long nails that are constantly touching the ground put pressure on the nail bed resulting in pain for the animal. Just imagine having to wear a pair of shoes that are too tight and you can’t take off! Ouch.

This makes walking uncomfortable resulting in awkward locomotion and posture. This, in turn, puts extra pressure on joints and tendons. For our senior pets who are probably in either the early stages of arthritis or more advanced, this will cause a great deal of pain that can easily be avoided.

Long nails are also at high risk of breaking or splitting as pets go about their normal business. This causes pain and lameness and often requires veterinary treatment.

In extreme cases and mostly seen in cats, overgrown nails will curl around and actually grow back into the skin of the foot. In addition to being painful, this can cause an ulcerated wound which may become infected. 

Cats with long nails are also at risk of having the nail ripped out when they get caught on things like bedding, clothes and fabric.

Advice on trimming your pet’s nails

We appreciate that having a nail trim might not be your cat or dog’s favourite activity! Also, if you are nervous about carrying out the procedure on your pet, it will also lead to them picking up on the anxiety – making it a miserable experience for everyone involved!

Our very own Chrissy MacPherson put together a short video of her carrying out a nail trim on the beautiful Mya, which you can watch here.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Start handling your pet’s feet when they are young to get used to the feeling and reducing anxiety
  2. Let your pet sniff and explore the nail clippers so they know there is no threat
  3. For a yummy distraction method, try smearing peanut butter on a toy or treat mat so they don’t even notice they are having their nails trimmed!
  4. Give your pet a treat and lots of praise for every nail trimmed
  5. Keep calm and confident and your pet will relax

If you are planning on trimming your pet’s nails yourself for the first time, we strongly recommend a visit to the vet or getting one of our experienced Vet Nurses to show you how to carry out this procedure to avoid injury to your pet.