The best place to get your guinea pig’s nails clipped is at the vet. It is very rare (unfortunately) to find grooming services for guinea pigs. Most vet clinics clip nails for a fee (usually between $20 and $30). You can save money by learning how to trim the nails yourself.
What You'll Learn
Regular nail trimmings are essential for the health and happiness of your guinea pig. There are several reasons you may not want to trim those little piggies yourself, from being afraid to harm your pet to not knowing if you’re doing it right. Unfortunately, outsourcing this task might be harder than you think.
Your Home is The Best Place
I know, I know. This is probably not the answer you wanted. If you’re reading this article, you are most likely looking to outsource this task.
However, very few places offer grooming services for guinea pigs. Large chain grooming providers like PetSmart and Petco do not offer these services, so you’ll be searching for a smaller-scale groomer in your area that offers grooming services for guinea pigs.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of those out there, but maybe you’ll be fortunate to have one in your area! If you find one, do ample research into the groomer to ensure they are experienced with grooming guinea pigs.
Alternatively, your pet’s veterinarian may be willing to trim your guinea pig’s nails for you. Nail trimming is a service that most, if not all, veterinarians provide.
Most veterinarians charge between ten to twenty dollars for a nail trim, which could be an additional cost to the fee of a vet or vet tech visit. Call the vet office in advance to know what you will be paying at checkout.
The most cost-effective option is to trim the nails at home. If you are unsure or afraid, ask your veterinarian to show you how to properly clip the nails. A good vet will give you all the information you need, from listing the best tools to purchase to ensuring you are trimming the right length and the right frequency.
Learning to Clip Guinea Pig Nails From Home
If you can’t get a vet appointment soon enough or don’t want to fork out the extra cash, many owners have successfully learned to trim their guinea pig’s nails at home.
Many videos and articles online offer thorough advice on how to hold the guinea pig correctly to avoid injury, where to place the clippers to avoid cutting the “quick,” and tips and tricks on how to handle an uncooperative pet.
After watching and reading enough content to forge ahead yourself, ensure that you have the correct equipment for the job.
Most dog nail clippers will be too large, and the blade is shaped incorrectly for guinea pig nails. Look for a guinea pig specific nail clipper, but if that’s not available, a rabbit or small animal nail trimmer will do the trick.
Other items you might need are blankets, a flashlight, treats, and styptic powder. Placing a blanket over a flat surface such as a table or the floor before placing the guinea pig on the surface will offer a more comfortable place for your guinea pig to sit while you trim their nails.
Alternatively, an additional blanket can be wrapped around the guinea pig while you trim to avoid being scratched by flailing paws.
Speaking of a flailing guinea pig, treats can be offered to distract and relax the guinea pig or as a reward once the trimming is completed.
A flashlight can be used to shine through nails to see where the end of the quick lies. If the quick is cut, there might be bleeding. Most of the time, holding a clean towel against the end of the nail is sufficient to stop the bleeding. However, if the quick is cut badly and bleeding is not slowing after employing the previous method, applying styptic powder will be enough to stop blood flow.
While blankets and flashlights can be purchased at the nearest grocery store, styptic powder and nail trimmers can usually be found at the nearest pet shop. Alternatively, online stores such as Amazon and Chewy will have various products to choose from.
How Often Do I Need to Do This?
Most people trim their guinea pig’s nails monthly. Waiting six weeks or more can cause the quick to grow closer to the end of the nail and can make trimming the nails more complicated. Trimming more frequently than two weeks is not a good idea either. Nails that are too short result in a thinner barrier between the quick and the outside world. This will cause sensitivity or discomfort for your pet.
Waiting to trim until the nail has curled inwards is extremely dangerous. The curled nail can cut the bottom of your pet’s feet, causing an open wound that can get infected or cause permanent damage.
Overgrown nails can even affect the guinea pig’s ability to move around, seriously inhibiting the animal’s quality of life. Ideally, you will trim your guinea pig’s nails a little bit every two weeks.
If your guinea pig’s nails are overgrown to the point that they are curling or causing discomfort, the best thing you can do for your pet is take it to the vet.
The “quick,” or nail center, is an opaque, pink vascular structure that contains nerves and blood vessels. When the quick is cut, it causes bleeding and pain for the animal. Overgrown nails have overgrown quicks, so it is much harder to trim the nail without injuring the quick.
Once the vet has trimmed the overgrown nail, frequent trimming of the tip of the nail is necessary to push the quick back towards the base of the nail without injuring it.
When in Doubt…
Trimming your guinea pig’s nails frequently and regularly is the best way to ensure the happiness of your pet. Since finding a groomer that offers services for guinea pigs is like finding a needle in a haystack, the best place to trim your guinea pig’s nails is at home. However, if after reading article after article and watching video after video, you are still not comfortable trimming your guinea pig’s nails, the best person for the job is your pet’s veterinarian. As in most situations regarding your pet, when in doubt, call your vet.
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