Something that it is often easy to forget about and neglect when you have a guinea pig is cutting their nails.
Guinea pig nail care is a pretty vital part of looking after a guinea pig well.
It’s a skill in itself to learn but the more you do it the better you will get at it.
Getting started with Guinea pig nail care
The Guinea Pig has nails that grow continually, with a nail on each of the four toes on their front feet and three on the toes on their hind feet.
So regular trimming is something that needs to be done often.
However if like me, the thought of trimming your Guinea Pig’s nails makes you feel a little uneasy, especially getting it wrong, then be rest assured you are not alone!
What happens when you don’t trim your guinea pigs nails?
If they are not trimmed regularly, they will continually grow and curl into the footpad.
As you can imagine, this could be quite painful for your guinea pig and result in them being unable to stand on that foot.
Other things that could happen is that your guinea pig may develop pododermatitis or bumblefoot which are inflammatory reactions that can occur because of infection.
However, if you trim them regularly this will give you the chance to check your Guinea Pig’s footpad often for any potential signs of infection.
How often do Guinea Pig nails need to be clipped?
Clipping your Guinea Pigs nails on a monthly basis will ensure that they do not grow too much.
However, letting them grow up to two months is too long. If they are left for extended lengths of time, the bloodline advances close to the tip of the nail and they become more difficult to trim.
If you trim them regularly though, the bloodline will recede and the nail is easier to trim without risk of blood loss.
What types of clipper shall I use?
There are two types of nail clippers you can use.
- You can use baby sized human nail clippers which are very effective in trimming piggie nails. Use a size of nail clipper in proportion to the guinea pig’s nails.
- As you guinea pig gets older, you can move on to adult guinea pig nail clippers which can be purchased from any good pet store. They look a little different from human nail scissors and are designed with guinea pigs in mind.
Guinea Pig nail bleeding
In each nail, there is a blood vessel which is known as the ‘quick’ that you may notice is a red or pink color.although if your Guinea Pig has darker nails it
Although if your Guinea Pig has darker nails it may be difficult to pick out where the quick is.
The chances of your Guinea Pig’s nail bleeding will increase if you cut across the quick.
Use styptic powder for any cuts that may occur in the process of clipping. You can also purchase Styptic pencils from any drug store which will help to clot the blood.
You can also use aluminum sulfate powder that can be used to stop the bleeding.
Some veterinarians sell ‘quick stop’ which is a specialist treatment for ‘quicks’.
Where to get Guinea Pig nails cut
If clipping nails of your guinea pig, fills you with dread then you could always make an appointment with your local veterinarian or pet groomer who will do this for you.
Many piggie owners use a veterinary surgeon or pet groomer to do the job. T
here is no shame in paying someone to do the job for you, as at least it will be done and done so properly.
Other ways of keeping your guinea pigs nails trim
One way of keeping the nails of your Guinea Pig down is to let them ground them on concrete.
Another idea is to place stones or rocks in their cages. What this does is to wear down the nails which will save the need for cutting them.
What this does is to wear down the nails when they walk on them on the hard surface, which will save the need for cutting them.
Do make sure that any surface that they are walking on does not have holes in though so that the guinea pig does not get their legs trapped.
They don’t enjoy running around on concrete as much as grass but they will wear down their nails more than grass will.
What I do often is to place their run half on grass and half on concrete so my Guinea Pig can get some time running on concrete whilst also enjoying the grass surface as well.
What about dark Guinea Pig nails?
If your Guinea Pig has dark nails or even black nails then it is very difficult to see where the quick starts and finishes.
Just trim the edges of the tips to ensure that you don’t cut anywhere near the quick.
However, if the thought of this still makes you feel uneasy, then it might be better to get a veterinarian to trim your Guinea Pig’s nails rather than doing it yourself.
When should a guinea pig start having their nails trimmed?
Guinea pigs should start having their nails trimmed when they are about two months old.
By this time, their nails have begun to protrude and they will need your attention.
Because of their small size, baby guinea pigs will need two people to carry out the job.
One person will need to hold the piggie with firm hands and the other will trim the nails.
Beware of the teeth of baby guinea pigs as they are sharp and can hurt if they decide to bite. So be prepared to be gnawed.
They are fragile creatures at that age and so need to be handled with care so you don’t crush them, and firmly so they don’t escape.
It takes practice to do this so don’t worry if it doesn’t go well first or even second time around.