Nail clippers meant meant for cats that look like small scissors with a little notch in the blade work well for ferrets. You can also use a small pair of human nail clippers. However, sometimes these pinch the nail before cutting and your ferret may find this uncomfortable.
Where to Cut
The trick to nail clipping is to cut the sharp tip off the nail without cutting into the quick. The quick is the part inside the nail where the blood vessel and nerve endings are located, and if you cut into the quick, the nail will bleed and it will hurt your ferret.
Most ferrets have light or translucent nails, and the quick is visible as the pink part inside the nail. Make your cut a bit in front of the quick; if you get too close it may still be a bit painful. See the diagram to the right for an illustration of nail clipping location.
If your pet has dark nails, you can sometimes "guess" where it is safe to cut based on the shape of the nail, especially with practice. The tip of the nail is usually quite narrow and may almost appear hollow when viewed from the bottom. Otherwise, it is safest to just clip off about 1/4 inch of the nail tip.
If you have any doubts, it is wise to get a professional (groomer, veterinarian) or other experienced owner to demonstrate nail clipping for you before you attempt it on your own.
- It is best to do nail clipping frequently: if it becomes part of your routine your ferret will get better used to the procedure (and so will you), and you will just have to trim a little bit of the tip of the nail each time.
- Make sure your ferret is restrained well - get help if necessary. You may need to scruff your ferret, but also make sure his/her rear end is supported as well. Distracting your ferret with a favorite treat might help too.
- Have something handy to stop bleeding, just in case (more on that below)
When Accidents Happen
No matter how careful you are, you will likely accidentally hit a nail quick and cause some bleeding at some point. Don't panic. Just make sure you have something on hand to stop the bleeding:
- Kwik-Stop powder or other commercial styptic powder product. These sometimes sting but are highly effective. Take a pinch of powder and press onto the tip of the affected nail after wiping away the blood.
- Cornstarch or flour can also be used in a similar manner
- You can try pressing the nail into a bar of soap or bees wax.
- For minor bleeding, simply applying pressure to the tip of the nail may be effective.
No matter which method you use, make sure the bleeding has stopped before placing the animal back in its cage, or leaving the animal unattended.
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