Paw Care - The Right Way to Trim Toenails

Guinea pigs who live in the wild don't need pedicures, because their nails are kept short by normal means. However, because she lives indoors, your guinea pig's toenails can grow very long and sharp if they are not trimmed regularly, becoming uncomfortable for both you and your pet. If left untrimmed, her nails can curve too far inward, which can cause them to break, a painful experience for your pet. Trimming her nails may not be one of the more exciting grooming tasks for either your guinea pig or you. But you can do it with some patience and care. You may want to have your vet or an experienced groomer show you the technique the first time.

Trimming your guinea pig's nails can present a bit of a challenge for another reason: your guinea pig won't like being restrained, which is part of the process. If you can enlist the assistance of a helper, so much the better. You can wrap her in a towel with her feet sticking out and trim the nails while your helper holds her. If you need to do the job by yourself, one rather ingenious method some guinea pig owners use is to place their pet on a tennis racket with the nails poking through the mesh, making it easier to get to them.

The main thing you want to be cautious about is cutting into the quick of the nail. If your guinea pig has light colored nails, the quick (the portion of the nail containing the blood) will be highly visible making them very easy to trim. All you have to do is clip the nail below the quick. If your guinea pig has dark colored nails, it will be more difficult to see the quick, so you should cut the nails a little at a time. Remember, your objective is to trim the sharp points, so it's not necessary to cut a great deal of the nail off, particularly if you trim them on a regular basis. A scissors or guillotine type nail clipper for pets is the best tool to use.

If you should cut into the quick by mistake and bleeding occurs, you can be stop it by using one of the following methods:

  • Apply flour to the area by dabbing it on with your fingers and applying pressure (the flour will help clot the blood)
  • Apply pressure to the nail with a cotton ball or use a coagulating agent

One way to cut down on the frequency of nail trimming is to place some rough stones or bricks in her cage. This will provide an abrasive surface that will help keep her nails worn down in a natural fashion.

If you don't want to attempt clipping your guinea pig's nails yourself, your veterinarian can do the job for you. Nails should be checked every 4 to 6 weeks. Never declaw a guinea pig! It is unsafe, inhumane and is not recommended for guinea pigs.