Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Art of Guinea Pig Manicures & Pedicures

Did you know that guinea pigs typically have four toes on their front feet and three on their back feet? Those are 14 nails that need to be cared for regularly to ensure your guinea pig is living the happiest and healthiest life possible.

In fact, regular nail trims are one of the most important aspects of proper guinea pig care. It’s also something that many guinea pig owners neglect to do in a timely manner. Some individuals simply forget while others don’t like putting their guinea pigs in a situation that may stress them out. But forgoing nail trims can severely impact your guinea pig’s health!

Why Nail Trims Are ImportantGuinea pig toenails grow constantly but vary from pig to pig. Some nails grow straight while others curl and are more brittle. Guinea pigs as domestic animals do not experience enough wear and tear on their nails to forgo regular trimmings. They require their loving humans for monthly manicures and pedicure.

Without regular toenail trims, guinea pigs nail can grow too long and put added pressure and pain on the paws. This risks painful nail breakage and long nails embedding in the skin, which can lead to infection.
Illustration of nails and quick.

Tools Of The Trade
To trim your guinea pig’s toenails you can either use a human nail clipper (some guinea pig experts believe it’s the safest option) or a small animal or kitten/puppy nail trimmer.

Nail clipper.Nail clipper.

Perfecting The Guinea Pig Hold

Being the small, delicate creatures they are, it’s important to learn how to properly hold your animal for nail trims. If possible, enlist a friend to help you with nail trims--preferably one with animal experience. One person will hold the guinea pig securely and keep them comfortable while the other trims each nail.

If you must go it alone, here are two ways to hold your guinea pig to safely trim their nails:

Tips & Tricks
For first-timers, trimming your guinea pig’s nails can be a bit nerve-wracking. Here are a few tips and tricks:
  • Dark nails can make it challenging to see the nail “quick.” Shining a bright light from underneath the paw can help you locate the quick and avoid it. 
  • If you accidentally cut your guinea pig’s nail at the quick and experience bleeding, please do not panic. It can be frightening due to the amount of blood flow. Keep styptic powder or pencil on hand to stop any accidental bleeding. 
  • Distractions may be helpful during nail trims. Some individuals have success with feeding healthy treats to get their piggies to stand still during a trim.
  • Set a monthly recurring reminder on your calendar so you don’t let your guinea pig go too long between trims.
Happy trimming!

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