Guinea pig nails grow constantly and so it’s important for owners to know how to cut guinea pig nails.
Tip: a tame guinea pig will make it much easier to cut their nails!
Anatomy of a nail
Although guinea pig nails grow constantly like ours, they have different anatomy. As you can see from the image on the right, the top of the nails are pinky-red and become white as you approach the tips.
This red area is called the “quick” and is a blood vessel in the centre of the nail. You need to be careful not to cut the quick or your piggy will bleed!
As you can see on the diagram, make your cut on the white part of the nail below the quick.
Some of you might be thinking “but my guinea pig has black nails, how do I know where to cut?”
Well, it is much harder to see the quick through black nails. Some people find that using a bright lamp helps them to shine through the nail to see the quick.
To be on the safe side, I would advise only cutting a small amount of the nail. However, you will have to cut your piggies nails more often.
There is an upside to frequent trimming – once the nail is cut, the quick retreats up the nail slightly.
This is especially handy if your guinea pig’s nails have become overgrown and the quick is long. Simply cut a small bit off the end once a week and they’ll soon be back to normal length without any bleeding.
I like to position my guinea pigs on my lap with their backs against my stomach so they feel secure and are less able to squirm. Others have very relaxed guinea pigs who will sit on the table while they have their nails cut. Positioning your guinea pig is down to personal preference. Just make sure that they don’t wriggle as you cut or you’ll likely end up with a bleeding pig!
Oh no! My guinea pig is bleeding!
If you cut the quick, your guinea pig will likely let you know with a squeak and blood will start to come out of the end of the nail. Don’t panic! Simply dip the nail into the styptic powder which will help to stop the bleeding.
Every owner who cuts their own guinea pig’s nails has likely done this at some point. Practice makes perfect! Now I’m off to cut the rest of the herd’s nails – one pig down, 83 nails to go!