Guinea Pig Nail and foot care

Introduction

Welcome to the LFP guide to Guinea Pig Nail and foot care.

Like us, Guinea pigs nails continually grow throughout their lifetime. In the wild, nail lengths are usually managed naturally with high levels of scurrying and forraging across abrasive surfaces.

However, in captivity, activity levels are decidedly less, and contact with abrasiveness surfaces such as rocks and substrate is often not sufficient to keep your little buddies nails to a comfortable and healthy length.

With this in mind, it is important to maintain a healthy nail length by trimming them manually. This guide should help you tackle the task at home.

As Always, if you not comfortable carrying out this at home, be sure to contact your local freindly Vetenarity surgeon, who will be more than happy to trim your piggies nails for a small fee.

Guinea pig nail trimming frequency

As a rule of thumb (pardon the pun) you should trim nails every 3-4 weeks. This is, of course, depending on the growth rate, as every piggy will be different.

Regular monitoring of nail length is important to prevent the nails from becoming too long. the longer they get, the trickier they can be to trim. which we’ll explain more on later.

When should I start trimming my Guinea pigs nails?

Again there is no exact science behind this. Your Guinea pigs claws will be growing continuously from birth, so start monitoring the growth straight away.

Your piggy might not necessarily enjoy the process of having his nails trimmed, so starting from an early age will make the process more routine for you and your little friend.

How much should I trim off my Guinea pigs nails?

This very much depends on the length of the nails to start with.

Like all animal nails, there is a blood supply in the nail, called a ‘quick’. The Quick grows along with the nail, and become larger as the nail grows longer. You should always avoid clipping into the quick as this will be very painful for your piggy, and will cause bleeding and introduce the possibility of infection.

On lighter colored piggy nails, you will be able to see the quick within the nail. On darker colored nails, you may need to shine a torch underneath the nail to identify where the quick ends. Again, if you are not comfortable identifying where the quick ends, contact your local vet for advice.

Regular clipping ensures the nail, and the quick are short. so you should be trimming off only a few mm at a time. paying extra careful attention to not clip through the quick.

Should you accidentally clip through the quick, you can stem the flow of blood by dipping the foot into a bowl of cornflour which acts as a clotting agent. So make sure you have some ready just in case!

How shall i hold my Guinea pig when clipping it’s nails ?

There are various ways of doing this, but our favored method is by securing your little friend on your lap with a firm but not overly tight grip, either on his back or with his side up against your mind drift. It sometimes pays to have 2 people involved when doing this because as mentioned before, your piggy will not overly enjoy the experience and may be quite tricky to hold!

Piggies have nails on each of the 4 toes on the front paws, and 3 on the back. so it is important to get as comfortable as possible before you start.

Ensure you are in a well-lit area. his will make it easier to identify the quick running through the nail to avoid cutting too close and causing a bleed.

What tools will i need to trim my guinea pigs nails?

You can use a small human nail clipper, that you have sterilized in boiling water prior to trimming the nails.Obviously, ensure the clipper is cool before attempting to use!

There are specifically designed nail clippers for Guinea pigs available if you would prefer. some of the better ones available are listed here:

Kaytee pro nail clipper

Professional quality nail trimmer for small animals. Perfectly sized to make quick and precise cuts. Pro Trimmer is 4″ long with an easy grip handle and finger rest.

Pros

  • Precise cuts
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • do not tear snag or rip the nail
  • Comfortable grip
  • stay sharp for multiple cuts

Cons

  • Varying levels of quality
  • too large for a really small critter
  • Plastic handles are not the best quality

Shiny Pet professional nail clipper

These Clippers can be used on about any small to medium sized animal. they have hygienic stainless steel blades, which stay sharp after multiple cuts. The non-slip cover on the plastic handle makes them really easy to grip and maneuver around even the most fiddly of nails. The clippers are designed to make the process of trimming your Guinea pigs nails as comfortable as possible for both the pet and owner

Pros

  • Hygeinic stainless steel blades
  • Good quality and stay sharp
  • do not tear snag or rip the nail
  • Comfortable on-slip grip
  • good angle on the blade to make cutting easier

Cons

  • Varying levels of quality
  • The angle of the blade is not to everyones liking
  • you might have issues getting fingers through the handles if you have large hands/fingers!

Pet Republique Professional Nail Clippers

Compared to other products, these clippers feel like they are built to last. The blades are quite thick, so this could make it tricky for really small piggies. but the quality suggests they will last and stay sharp.They have a nice non-slip handle which provides a good sturdy grip. Something that is important when your piggy is wriggling about trying to avoid the dreaded manicure.Spring loaded handles are also a welcome addition and ensure you are able to quickly open the blades with little effort and fuss.The blade angle is also convenient, making it easier to perform clean and safe cuts.The addition of a safe block is also a nice feature to keep the blades safe and clean whilst being stored or in transit.

Pros

  • Hygeinic stainless steel blades
  • Good build quality
  • clean and precise cutting
  • Spring loaded handle ensures ease of blade opening
  • good angle on the blade to make cutting easier
  • Safetly block provided for transit and storage

Cons

  • Varying levels of quality
  • The angle of the blade is not to everyones liking
  • Quite bulky so can be tricky for really small critter claws

Complications when trimming Guinea Pig nails

As mentioned above, the main thing to avoid when trimming your Guinea pigs nails is cutting to close or into the blood vessel running throughout the claw, commonly known as the ‘quick’.

Should you accidentally encroach on the quick, it is important to stem the blood flow immediately using a clotting agent such as corn starch. This will prevent additional blood loss and help in the healing process.

Should the nail become infected, then it is best to consult your local friendly veterinary surgeon who will prescribe the best course of action.

Things to look out for if you think your Guinea pig may have an infected foot include:

  • Inflamed / red footpad
  • Sores on the footpad
  • Physical discomfort, limping, biting and licking.

Complications of not trimming your Guinea pigs nails regularly

Overgrown nails can cause many issues for your piggy.

Long nails can prevent your critter walking freely, which will discourage exercise and lead to a loss of appetite and all the health complications associated.

If the nails get really long, your piggy may develop Pododermatitis, more commonly known as ‘Bumblefoot’. This is an infection in the footpad caused by the Staph virus, which is very painful indeed and should be avoided at all cost.

Look for signs of inflammation and cracking of the footpad. You may also see signs of bleeding and callous like lumps appearing around the foot. You should contact your veterinary surgeon immediately if you suspect the presence of Bumblefoot.

this resource is helpful when identifying Bumblefoot:

All of this, of course can be largely avoided by a regular trimming routine. Read more about Guinea Pig hygiene and care in our guide

Conclusion

As pet owners, we all have a responsibility to ensure our pets live a happy and healthy life. Regular grooming including the trimming of nails is part of that responsibility.

Without the natural hustle and bustle of living in the wild, your piggy may not be able to maintian the length of his nails naturally, so it is very important to help him do this by either trimming his nails yourself or asking your local friendly vet to help.

Either way, your piggy will be grateful (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time) and allow him to have years of healthy, pain-free exercise and play!

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