Updated Nail Trims

Nail Care for Nervous Pets

Our team practices low-stress handling for medically necessary nail trims – or in patients who are just too stressed by it all and need injectable sedation to safely do it while minimizing stress.

We recommend introducing your pet to nail trimming at a young age and practicing a few times a week to desensitize them. Using the right technique, you’ll be able to get your pet’s nails done at home.

At-home nail trimming training

Do you avoid trimming your pet’s nails for as long as you can? Does your cat or dog barely tolerate it, even when you do your best with treats? Nail trimming can be quite stressful for many dogs.

Often, if a pet will not tolerate nail trims at home it can be even more stressful for them in the veterinary office since it is an unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar faces. While with enough restraint even the most anxious pet can have their nails trimmed, this will inevitably lead to further anxiety down the road, making future visits even more stressful and potentially dangerous.

We want your cat or dog to enjoy their treatment like a human would. But when clipping is just not going to happen, you can look at alternatives like dremels or scratchboards.

There are many ways to work with your pets at home to get them accustomed to having their feet handled or nails clipped. Please see the resources below and this link to local groomers we recommend. Read our updated nail trim policy for doing nail trims at the clinic.

Additional Resources:

Product Recommendations:

Scratch Board Video Training

SAH Nail Trim Policy

In an effort to continue to provide the most positive care experiences for our patients, we are updating our nail trim policy. We understand this may cause some anxiety, but please do not fret. We are with you every step of the way to ensure we appropriately coach you on desensitization techniques at home. The well-being of our patients is our number one priority, which is why we are implementing this change. Please read below, and reach out if you have any questions.


While many pet owners love treating themselves to manicures and pedicures, nail trimming can be extremely stressful for our four-legged family members. In fact, at SAH, we estimate that more than 75% of our patients experience some degree of anxiety with nail-trimming, with at least 50% of these patients needing varying degrees of sedation for the procedure.

Think about it from your dog or cat’s perspective. There are two to three strangers repositioning you, handling your feet, and applying pressure to your sensitive toes. Yikes! Unless you introduce your pet to nail trimming at a very young age and practice a few times a week, if not daily, it is unlikely he/she will ever be 100% comfortable with it.

At SAH, we practice Fear Free and Low Stress Handling, and we train our staff to recognize fear, anxiety, and stress in pets. Some patients are so anxious during nail trims that we have to schedule several appointments, each with varying degrees of oral sedation, without successful outcomes.

We want to avoid creating a negative association with nail trimming in the clinic because the positioning and handling we use for nail trimming is similar to what we do to draw blood, administer vaccines, and other procedures. We want to make sure we continue to keep routine and urgent veterinary care as stress-free as possible.

We’ve found that nail trims are best performed in environments less stressful than the clinic, like a patient’s home or by a grooming professional. This is why we have phased out non-medical nail trims and focusing on educating clients on desensitization techniques so they can successfully perform nail trims at home.

We define medically necessary nail trims as ones in which long nails are causing discomfort and/or negatively affecting a patient’s gait. Note that we will continue to perform sedated nail trims. These are ones that require injectable medication to fully sedate the patient.

We can schedule appointments to coach clients on desensitization techniques so you can do nail trims at home and even prescribe medications to help facilitate the reduction of at-home stress levels with the process. You can also check out our resources for desensitizing at home here.

Thank you for your continued support and patience as we continue to work together to provide positive experiences for our patients!

The Shiloh Animal Hospital Care Team