A lot of guinea pig parents often find the infamous nail trim session daunting! If that is your case, we’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to trim your guinea pigs nails so you can start conquering guinea pig spa day like a pro!
Why should I cut my guinea pigs nails?
Just like us, guinea pig’s nails also need to be maintained as they are always growing. If their nails become too long, they can start to curl inwards and negatively impact their health.
Curled nails can lead to damage to your guinea pigs feet:
- Open, slow healing cuts or wounds
- Foot ulcers
- Bumble foot
- Skin Infections due to open cuts or sores
How often should I cut my guinea pigs nails?
Your guinea pigs’ nails should be routinely trimmed once or twice a month. This will help keep them nice and short to prevent damage to their feet.
Are nail trims painful for guinea pigs?
No, cutting their nails is not painful for guinea pigs, just like it isn’t painful for us. However, it can become uncomfortable for them if you cut into their nail’s blood supply, or hold them incorrectly.
Now that we have tackled some of the main questions surrounding guinea pig nail trims, we can now dive into how to do this!
Step-by-step guide to cutting guinea pigs nails
What do I need to trim my guinea pig’s nails?
- Nail clipper (either a human one or one specialized for pets)
- Fleece liner or towel
- Cornstarch or Hemostatic powder
- Small torch for darker nails
- Guinea pig treats or their favourite food
Step #1: Make your guinea pig comfortable
Guinea pigs are often skittish when it comes to care sessions, especially if introducing a new routine. To help make your guinea pig feel more comfortable, it’s best to select an area that is quiet, where noise is kept to a minimum to avoid startling them.
Set up a fleece liner or towel on your countertop or table, especially if you are working on a slippery surface.
The fastest way to a guinea pig’s heart is through food! Start your session by giving them some treats or veggies for them to munch on. This positive reinforcement will help your guinea pigs associate nail trims with a positive experience/reward.
Step #2: Identify the kwick of your guinea pig’s nail
You may notice your guinea pig has a pink part of their nail. This is their nail’s blood supply, also known as the “kwick”. When cut, this can be painful for your guinea pig so it is best that you identify where the blood supply stops for each nail.
Sometimes it may be harder to identify the kwick in guinea pigs with darker nails. For an easier way to locate the kwick, try holding a torch behind their nail to see where the bloody supply stops.
Step #3: Start in the front and work your way through each nail
Now that you have located the kwick, gently trim underneath this part for each individual nail. We find that it’s best to start on your guinea pigs’ front nails: this is so they can see what you are doing and reduces their anxiety.
You can also compare the length of the nails to see how to even them out. Don't hesitate to cut gradually if you are not sure.
What happens if I cut my guinea pig’s nails too far?
If you have accidentally cut the blood supply of your guinea pigs nails, don’t panic! Though it may be uncomfortable for your piggy, this is not dangerous. Proceed by rubbing some cornstarch or hemostatic powder on the wound to stop the bleeding. You may wish to give you guinea pig a break as they try to get comfortable once again.
Step #4: Reward your guinea pig throughout the process
Remember to treat your guinea pig to a comforting snack as you trim their nails. This will help make them comfortable and build up their confidence as they associate treats to a positive experience.
What happens if my guinea pig becomes too stressed with nail trims?
If your guinea pig becomes stressed or uncomfortable, stop what you are doing and give them a break. Reward them with a snack to help them relax. Once they are comfortable again, continue with the nail trims. If they become too stressed with the session, you may wish to consider trying again later in the day so they can have a longer break to relax.
What do I do if I am not comfortable trimming my guinea pig’s nails?
If you find yourself uncomfortable completing nail trims, that’s okay too! You can always consult your vet for further assistance. You can always enlist the help of another family member or friend to help during the process too!
Sometimes nail trims can be tricky, but with a little practice and patience, you and your guinea pigs will become more comfortable. By following our step-by-step guide, you know you’ll start trimming your guinea pig’s nails like a pro! Be sure to reward your guinea pig (and yourself) for a job well done.