Why Cutting Guinea Pig's Nail is Important
Guinea pigs require regular nail clipping and should be done no less than once a month. If guinea pig’s nails are not properly taken care of, this could lead to curvature of the nails which can lead to the nails possibly growing into the footpad. Another consequence of not regularly trimming your guinea pig’s nails is that it can lead to damage to the skin from open wounds to the feet, ultimately leading to bumblefoot. By regularly trimming guinea pig’s nails this prevents the blood supply from growing closer to the tip and minimizes other discomfort for your guinea pigs. Helping to maintain proper nail length is an important duty as a guinea pig parent that should not be neglected.
When cutting your guinea pig's nails, it is important to make them feel comfortable while you do it. Laying a liner such as GuineaDad Liner on a table or on your lap will help ensure your guinea pigs get a familiar feel when they step on it even when they are taken out of their living space. I typically use 2x1 GuineaDad Liner for this purpose.
How to Know Where to Cut
If your guinea pig’s nail is translucent then it is rather easy to spot where the quick is. The quick is the pink part center of the nail that contains the blood supply! If your guinea pig’s nail is black, some tend to shine a flashlight right underneath the guinea pig’s nails, which may help you get an idea of where the blood vessel may be. Avoid cutting too close to the quick as that may cause discomfort but trim the nail so you are trimming above the quick.
Step by Step Guide to Properly Clip a Guinea Pig’s Nail
Step One: Gather the Proper Materials
- Nail Clippers
- Human Nail Clippers or Small Animal Nail Clippers
- The difference between the two is that human's clippers don't open as wide while small animal clippers tend to be the guillotine style nail clippers and have a wider opening.
- Styptic powder
- This powder is used in the scenario that you accidentally cut your guinea pig's nail too deep. When this happens, you would have accidentally cut the quick. By applying the powder, it will help stop the bleeding.
- Towel/Paper Towel or GuineaDad Liner
- Also in case the nails are cut too deep, use the towel to wipe the blood and the area.
- Fresh Vegetables or Treats
- Treats and vegetables can be used to distract your guinea pig while you trim their nails and also be used to provide positive reinforcement at the end. By repeating these process, your guinea pig should correlate nail clippings with a time that they will be getting treat
- GuineaDad Nourish Series - Pea Flake is an excellent treat to provide to your guinea pigs. Not only do these help you bond, but can provide the positive reinforcement for any situation!
Step Two: Hold Onto Your Guinea Pig
- If this is the first time you’re attempting to trim your guinea pig’s nails then this may be a bit tricky since some guinea pigs don't like to get picked up. The simplest way to clip your guinea pig’s nails is to rest yourself on the floor and have your guinea pig on your lap or place them on a table so that your guinea pig's bottom will be supported during the nail cutting process. Before proceeding any further, provide some treat or veggies so that your guinea pig will feel relaxed.
Step Three: Gently and Securely Grab a Leg and Let the Work Begin
- After your guinea pig has relaxed, gently pick a leg and secure it. If they happen to strain too much, then allow them to relax again before continuing further.
- Once your guinea pig has regained composure, you can try again to gently secure a foot, and begin to precisely cut your guinea pigs nail.
- Make sure you're not cutting too close to the 'quick' as it can cause discomfort to your guinea pigs.
- If you do happen to cut too deep, quickly apply the Styptic Powder, which should stop the bleeding quickly.
- At this point your guinea pig may be too scared to continue, so give them some time to relax again by providing treats and/or fresh veggies.
- Once your guinea pig is feeling relaxed again, repeat the process and trim the nails one at a time!
Step Four: Provide Treats/Veggies for Positive Reinforcement
- By providing treats and veggies during and after the process of cutting their nails, you will be positively reinforcing nail clippings with treat time. So make sure you have plenty of vegetables and treats ready to give.
What to do if Cutting Guinea Pig’s Nail is Difficult for You
Trimming guinea pig’s nails is overall something that is not too difficult for veterinarians so contact your local vets to see if they can take care of this for you. Since it’s a relatively easy task, it shouldn’t be too expensive and should be done fairly quickly!
It may be a rather difficult task at first, but as you get more practice, you and your guinea pigs should grow accustomed to the steps, which will make it easier down the road!
Watch some of our YouTube Videos on when I try to cut Peanut, Tofu, and Dumpling's Nails!
Here's a video of GuineaDad trying to cut their nails Solo Ver.
Here's a video of GuineaDad cutting their nails with Guinea Godfather's help!