What's Up With Those Insta-Worthy Pet 'Manicures'?

Here’s the (kind of surprising) answer from a vet 💅

painted dog nails

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During your endless hours of social media scrolling, odds are you’ve seen a picture of a pet with colored nails, and just assumed a (super extra) pet parent splurged for an actual manicure for her.

But it turns out that “manicure” isn’t actually pet polish at all — even though that exists, too — but actually a set of nail caps on her claws.

And they aren’t just designed to make your pet look like the fanciest thing in all the land … they actually serve a purpose!

So, The Dodo spoke with Dr. Vanessa Spano, a vet with Behavior Vets in New York City, and Dr. Katja Lang, a vet with Heart of Chelsea Veterinary Group in New York City, to talk about how nail caps could actually be a fun way to help with a common pet problem.

What are nail caps?

Nail caps are covers for your pet’s claws that you actually attach to them with pet-safe adhesive.

“Nail caps are typically used for cats that are scratching furniture or their human friends,” Dr. Lang told The Dodo.

It can get a little frustrating when your dog keeps accidentally scratching you, or your cat constantly claws your furniture.

So caps seem like a good solution if you’re too intimidated to cut your pet’s nails on your own.

“It is ideal to cut your pet's nails to make sure they do not grow too long, but of course that can be complicated for pets who do not like handling,” Dr. Spano told The Dodo. “Nail caps in the meantime, so long as they are applied appropriately and securely, can be great.”

Nail caps are humane for your dog or cat, and they’re definitely much better than declawing, which Dr. Spano and Dr. Lang absolutely do NOT recommend, since it’s a super painful and cruel procedure.

Any downsides?

“The con is that they are difficult to put on and can fall off,” Dr. Lang explained.

But you could always enlist professional help if you need to.

“If your pet is difficult to handle or you are unsure how to appropriately apply these … ask your vet,” Dr. Spano said. “We would not want your pet to risk ingesting a foreign object such as a nail cap [that has fallen off because it wasn’t applied correctly].”

Nail cap maintenance could also be a turnoff for some pet parents.

“They need to be reapplied every 4–6 weeks so [they’re] less convenient than regular nail trimming, proper scratching posts and other environmental enrichment,” Dr. Lang said.

Even if it’s a little extensive, this upkeep is super important to keep your pet’s nails healthy.

“If they are not maintained properly, the nails can still become ingrown,” she explained.

But the fun (and adorably silly) part about nail caps is that you can get them in a bunch of different colors or styles, so it looks like your pet actually has a manicure!

If you’re interested, The Dodo rounded up some fun nail caps you could try on your dog or cat.

Colorful Cat Caps

Colorful Cat Caps

These come in a whole bunch of sizes and fun colors, so there’s something for every kitty’s paws — and personality.

Sparkly nail covers for dogs

Sparkly nail covers for dogs

There are a bunch of glittery options to choose from. You can even get a set of rainbow caps, or plain black ones.

Glow-in-the-dark cat caps

Glow-in-the-dark cat caps

Are these the most perfectly ridiculous things you’ve ever seen, or what? You can also get a 40-pack (and a bunch of different sparkly colors) here.

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