Guinea Pig Care: Trimming Guinea Pig Nails

Like human nails, guinea pig nails or claws are constantly growing and therefore need to be clipped or trimmed on a regular basis. The easiness of this will depend on the guinea pig in question. I have 7 guinea pigs and have found you’ll get a couple who will play up, a couple who don’t mind, and others that will be fine one time and not-so-fine the next time. Also some don’t like the feeling and may try to bite so be prepared.

Guinea pigs have a total of 14 nails, 4 on each front paw, and 3 on each back paw. I have found that the nails on the back legs tend to grow quicker and straighter, whereas the nails on the front paw are more likely to curl up.

Some guinea pigs will need their nails trimmed less often than others, particularly if they are getting a lot of exercise. But you should always keep an eye on how long your guinea pig’s nails are. Broken nails can be very painful for a guinea pig and can result in an infection.

I would say that a guinea pig’s nails should first be trimmed when they are 2-4 months old. The smaller the guinea pig the harder it is likely to be to trim the nails. Older guinea pigs tend to have nails that are tougher and grow at irregular speeds.

When trimming the nails make sure you have a firm hold on your guinea pig, as some may try to get away.

To trim a guinea pig’s claws you need to make sure you have suitable nail clippers. Guinea pig nail clippers can be bought from most pet shops, animal stores, garden centres that have a pet section, and sometimes vets.

There are several different types of nail clippers, as a guinea pig owner you should find one that suits you and your guinea pig(s) the best. Some owners use nail clippers designed for humans, although I find these harder to use on such small guinea pig nails. I use scissor nail clippers that have been designed for kittens and other small animals. It is possible to use dog nail trimmers as well, although there is a danger you’ll cut off too much if the clippers are large.

Whichever type of nail clipper you use you should always be very careful when cutting your guinea pig’s nails. You don’t want to cut too deep and into the ‘quick’ – this is the end of the blood vessel and if cut it will bleed a lot, and in some cases can be very painful and cause an infection. With light coloured nails you can see where the blood vessel ends as it looks pink, so it is easier to cut these nails. Darker nails are harder, so it is more advisable to cut small slivers off, rather than doing it all in one go, until you’ve cut the desired amount of. With some dark nails if you shine a bright light form underneath it will sometimes show where the quick ends.

Guinea Pig Image

If your guinea pig has very long nails then it is likely that the quick is also very long. In this case you should still only cut off the tip of the nail, to stop the quick bleeding. This long nail should be regularly trimmed, about once or twice a week, having a little taken off each time, as this encourages the blood vessel to recede, until the nail is a suitable length.

Every now and again you may find that you have cut slightly too deep, this may be because you couldn’t see the quick or the guinea pig moved. In this case you should wait until the nail has stopped bleeding before putting the pig back in his or her hutch. To reduce the chance of infection you should clean the guinea pig’s hutch or cage out so there will be less contact with soiled bedding. If the nail has not stopped bleeding for over 5 minutes, or is badly cut, I would suggest taking the guinea pig to a vet, just to be on the safe side.

It is advisable to get advice about cutting guinea pig nails from an experienced owner or a vet if this is the first time you have done it.

If you don’t feel confident enough to cut your piggy’s nails then it would be best to get a trained vet to do it.

The information I have provided cannot be taken as a medical opinion or medical advice.

September 26, 2010 · Maddia (Admin) · One Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Guinea Pig Care, Guinea Pig Information, Medical Information (Guinea Pigs)

One Response

  1. Rikka - November 6, 2010

    Hey, thanks for the post. Much thanks again. Will read on…