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What To Do When Your Guinea Pig Breaks A Nail?

If you’ve ever encountered a broken nail in your guinea pig, it is pretty startling. 

The broken nail will cause a good bit of pain and may even bleed a bit. 

Seeing the blood on your guinea pig is very concerning, but luckily, a broken nail is usually not a huge reason for concern if the wound is cared for and promptly addressed. 

When a guinea pig breaks a nail, it usually heals on its own. It’s essential to keep an eye on the wound and keep the cage extra clean to prevent potential bacterial infections like bumblefoot. If infection occurs, seek veterinary attention. Keep nails trimmed to lessen the chance of a broken nail. 

Seeing your guinea pig bleeding or in pain is never fun. 

Fortunately, a broken nail is not too serious so long as you make sure it stays clean and free of bacterial infections. 

Read on if you want to know more about what to do when your guinea pig breaks a nail. 

what to do when your guinea pig breaks a nail

How To Treat A Broken Nail In Guinea Pigs

Both young and adult guinea pigs love to play and romp around the cage

This is especially true if you have multiple pet guinea pigs in a cage. 

Sometimes if you skip regular nail trimmings, their nails get too long. 

This makes it significantly more likely for the nails to get caught on bedding, cage walls, or other cage furnishings. 

Fortunately, a broken nail is not a big deal on its own. 

It may cause some discomfort, bleeding, or pain for a short time, but this should subside quickly. 

If you discover your guinea pig has broken a nail, the most important thing to do is to make sure the wound stays clean. 

Cleaning the wound with warm water daily will help to reduce the chance of bacterial infection. 

Maintaining clean bedding is another critical way to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. 

Make sure to check the broken nail daily to ensure there are no signs of inflammation or infection. 

If there are any indicators of infection on the broken guinea pig nail, make sure to seek veterinary attention to receive antibiotic ointment or whatever else they may advise. 

What Are The Risks Of A Guinea Pig Breaks A Nail?

The main risk of a broken guinea pig nail is the potential for common infections from bacteria entering the wound. 

While regular guinea pig grooming and nail trims will help prevent breaking a nail, it may still happen, and it’s important to know what to look for in case infection occurs. 

Often when a guinea pig nail breaks, it will fall off and expose the nail bed. 

This leaves the potential for bacteria to enter the wound and cause health issues in guinea pigs. 

Symptoms Of Bacterial Infection

Infection is a significant concern whenever there is an injury in guinea pigs. 

As guinea pig owners, it is our responsibility to pay close attention to the healing process to ensure no problems occur. 

Here are a few essential things to look out for in guinea pig paws after nail breaks. 

They are common signs of a foot infection. 

  • Check the foot for swelling or redness, which is a common indicator of the wound not healing properly. 
  • Occasionally, guinea pigs will develop foot abscesses at the sight of the wound due to infection. 
  • Consistent indicators of fresh blood indicate the foot injuries may not be healing well and will require medical attention. 
  • Irregular behaviors from your guinea pig, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, irritability, or abnormal bodily functions, may indicate infection or illness and require veterinary attention. 

Do Guinea Pigs Nails Grow Back?

Yes. Guinea pig nails do grow back. 

If the nail is broken directly on the bed of the nail, it will likely be a few months before the nail fully grows back. 

Nail growth is relatively slow for guinea pigs, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see any indication of nail growth for a month or so. 

If a particularly bad wound or injury on the nail bed, the nail may never grow back. 

However, most broken nails in guinea pigs result from getting caught in bedding or other material and aren’t usually too serious. 

Related: Do guinea pig ears grow back to their original shape?

How Did My Guinea Pig Break A Nail?

There are many ways a guinea pig may break its nail. Long, untrimmed nails get caught in bedding or on cage bars or may get damaged when playing with other cage mates. 

For this reason, it is vital to practice regular grooming care so nails don’t get out of hand. 

This will significantly reduce the likelihood of long nails getting snagged or tangled in whatever furnishings, bedding, or fleece you have in the enclosure. 

These are the most common ways for guinea pigs to break nails:

  • Nails getting caught on bedding. 
  • During floor time when nails may get caught on carpets. 
  • Having too long nails where they snap and break off or are left hanging.
  • Occasionally, a guinea pig will grow a new nail under the old nail, and the old one will fall off and leave an exposed nail bed for a short time. 

How To Prevent My Guinea Pig From Breaking Nails

The best way to prevent your guinea pig from breaking nails is to regularly trim them to a safer length. 

Long nails pose a greater risk as it is much easier for them to get caught. 

If you have any particularly problematic fabric, bedding, or other material in the cage, it will also increase the likelihood of a broken nail. 

Keep the cage contents as safe as possible, especially if you find your guinea pigs are frequently breaking nails. 

Long-haired guinea pigs make it harder to keep track of their nail length, but they are just as susceptible to breaking nails as short-haired guinea pigs. 

If your guinea pig has long hair, consider trimming the hair back to keep a better eye on the length of their nails. 

How To Trim Guinea Pig Nails

Trimming your guinea pig’s nails is important for grooming for guinea pig owners. 

It is a bit intimidating at first, but it will go much smoother and easier once you and your guinea pig get used to it. 

It helps to start trimming nails when they are young, getting them used to the process. 

Sit With Your Guinea Pig On Your Lap

The first thing you’ll want to do is sit with your guinea pig on your lap. 

Spend a few minutes petting them and handling their paws, so they have a chance to adjust before grooming. 

Make sure they are relaxed and settled before you start to trim their nails. 

Secure Your Guinea Pig 

Securing your guinea pig may be a bit difficult at first. 

They may fight you on being restrained but keeping them still is important, so you don’t accidentally hurt them during the clipping process. 

The best way to hold a guinea pig is against your chest with one hand; this helps keep them still while trimming their nails. 

Hold The One Paw Your Working On 

While your guinea pig is held against your chest, hold one of its paws with two fingers. 

This way, you’re able to restrain them and steady their paw with one hand while holding the clippers in the other. 

Keeping a steady hold on each paw will help you get a precise cut and prevent accidental injuries. 

Keeping your guinea pig tight against your chest will also keep them from getting too squirmy while grooming them. 

Clip The Sharp Part Of The Nail

Use the clippers to trim the sharpest part of the nail off. 

You don’t want to clip too far down as you may hit the quick of the nail. 

The quick contains blood vessels, and cutting it will cause them to bleed and cause some minor pain. 

This isn’t terrible for them but avoid the quick as best as possible. 

With lighter colored nails, the quick is visible and is easily avoided. 

It helps keep styptic powder on hand to stop any bleeding should you accidentally cut the nail too short. 

Repeat And Take Breaks As Needed

Repeat the trimming process for all the nails on each guinea pig paw. 

Your guinea pig may need breaks between paws. 

If they struggle to get out of your hand, it’s best to give them a bit of a break as too much squirming makes cutting a nail too short significantly more likely as you won’t have as much precision while trimming. 

We recommend keeping some tasty treats like fresh fruits and vegetables on hand to give to your guinea pig while you trim their nails. 

This will make them happy and make the whole process much easier for both of you. 

Once you are finished, give your guinea pig extra love and affection so they don’t associate getting their nails trimmed with a scary or unpleasant thing. 

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