5 Ways To Keep Guinea Pig Nails Short (Without Cutting Them)

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If you’re a guinea pig owner, you know that keeping your guinea pig’s nails trimmed is essential to their health and well-being. But what if you don’t want to or can’t cut their nails? How can you keep your guinea pig’s nails short without cutting them?

Don’t worry – there’s several ways to keep guinea pig nails short without having to take a pair of nail clippers to them yourself. The important thing is to make sure that you’re using the methods consistently and that they work for your individual piggies.

tip you can keep a guinea pigs' nails short without cutting them, but you'll have to be consistent with the other methods, because they're not always as effective as using nail clippers

In this blog post, we will discuss five different ways to keep your guinea pig’s nails trimmed without having to cut them.

Let’s get started.

1. Give Them Access To An Outdoor Run

tip you can keep a guinea pigs' nails short without cutting them, but you'll have to be consistent with the other methods, because they're not always as effective as using nail clippers
You’ll probably need to use a combination of these methods if you don’t want to (or can’t) clip your piggies’ nails yourself.

When it comes to keeping guinea pig nails short, one of the best things you can do is to give them access to an outdoor run.

If your guinea pig has a place to run and play, their nails will naturally wear down on their own – especially if you can find a way to set up a temporary enclosure on the following:

  • A dirt or sand surface: Guinea pigs are natural burrowers. They’ll love to scratch and dig in loose soil, so a dirt or sand surface will help keep their nails trimmed.
  • Concrete: The natural wear and tear of your piggie’s nails on a concrete surface as they run around and play will help keep them trim.

Guinea pig nails can grow pretty fast. So, if you’re going to do this, you have to give your lots of time in the outdoor run.

Just doing it once in a while isn’t gonna cut it. (Yes, I just used a guinea pig nail cutting pun. I couldn’t resist.)

Plus, it’s important to remember that if you’re going to use this method as a way to keep your piggies nails trimmed short, then you have to:

  • Watch your little friends at all times. Predators can easily get to your little friends if they’re out in the open (I’m looking at you neighborhood dogs and cats).
  • Keep them in a secure pen. You don’t want your piggies to escape during playtime.
  • Have fresh, clean water and hay (unless you have your piggies grazing on piggie-safe grass or forage) available at all times.
  • Make sure they don’t get too hot or too cold. You want your fur babies to be comfortable while they’re in their outdoor run. Piggies do best when in temperatures that are 65 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Just be sure to provide a safe space for them to run – make sure there are no sharp objects or other hazards that could injure your guinea pig.

If you can do the above, then allowing your guinea pig to run around in an outdoor enclosure is a great way to keep their nails short without having to cut them.

2. Use Tiles Inside

Depending on what kind of flooring you have in your kitchen or sun porch, you might be able to use the floor itself to keep guinea pig nails short.

The friction caused by guinea pigs running and playing on rough types of surfaces will naturally help grind down their nails.

Just make sure the surface is safe for them to run and play on – there shouldn’t be any sharp edges that could injure your guinea pigs.

3. Use Bricks Strategically

Methods #1 and #2 don’t work especially well when it comes to lazy piggies. A lot of movement is required to keep their nails trimmed short.

But what about guinea pigs that don’t move around a lot – the ones that just lounge around all day – except when it’s time to eat?

For those piggies, you can use bricks strategically to help keep their nails trimmed short.

All you have to do is place a few, short bricks around their water bottles (or bowls) and their food bowl.

Even the laziest piggies will get up to drink water and eat (multiple times a day), so they’ll naturally have to step (and scrape their nails) on the bricks.

Over time, guinea pigs will wear down their nails as they step up and down on them when getting to their water and food.

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4. File Their Nails Instead

tip you can keep a guinea pigs' nails short without cutting them, but you'll have to be consistent with the other methods, because they're not always as effective as using nail clippers
Squirmy, little stinkers, aren’t they?

Maybe you don’t want to use nail clippers on your little friend (nipping their nails or cutting the nail quick is a real fear for some people, ya know?).

But, if you don’t mind getting a little bit hands on, you can always try filing their nails instead.

You can do this one of two ways. By using:

  • A dremel. It’s an electric device that can be used to file guinea pig nails. Just put the appropriate bit on your dremel and hold it at an angle while running it over their nails. (Full disclosure: Some piggies do NOT like the noise they make)
  • Emery board (but get a thick, sturdy one). A little bit of elbow grease (and a lot of is required, but guinea pigs nails can be filed down with a regular nail file. Just hold it at an angle while running it over their nails (a few times).

If done correctly (*fingers crossed that your piggie stays still*) and every two weeks or so, your little friend’s nails should stay trimmed short – without having to cut them.

5. Have A Vet Or Groomer Do It

Look I know this blog post is about how to keep your piggie’s nails short without having to cut them. But, honestly…sometimes it’s just easier to let someone else do the job.

And it’s an option that a lot of people use.

If you’re really against clipping guinea pig nails (it makes some people super nervous), or if your guinea pig hates having their nails trimmed, then take them to a vet or professional groomer and have them do it for you.

Sure, it’ll cost ya a bit of money. But, if you ask me, it’s money well spent.

Your little buddies will have clipped, trim nails – that you didn’t have to do yourself. (I mean, who needs the hassle if you don’t have to, right?)

And if guinea pig nail trimming is something that you just want to get over with as quickly as possible (and pay someone else to do it), then this might be the best option for you.

What Happens If You Don’t Cut A Guinea Pig’s Nails?

If you don’t cut your guinea pigs’ nails, a couple of things will happen to your little friend – and none of them good. Their nails will start to curl and dig into the bottom of their feet.

Wounds will soon form, which can get infected and turn into a bumble foot. Bumblefoot is a serious foot infection that can cause your guinea pig a lot of pain.

So, don’t take the risk.

If you’re not going to clip your guinea pigs’ nails on a regular basis to keep them short and healthy, then pay someone else to do it or use the methods in this post to keep them trimmed and worn down.

You’ll both be glad you did.

How Often Should You Trim A Guinea Pig’s Nails?

Everyone should trim their guinea pigs’ nails at least once a month. Some guinea pigs might need to have their nails trimmed more often, because they just naturally grow more quickly.

How Did Guinea Pigs Keep Their Nails Short In The Wild?

All guinea pigs are instinctively burrowers at heart. They like to dig. In the wild, guinea pigs would dig underneath the ground to search for food and safety from predators.

Doing this in their natural habitat helps guinea pigs keep their nails short, healthy and worn down.

There’s very few “natural” ways that domesticated piggies can do that on the regular.

That’s why guinea pigs need their nails trimmed every once in a while. It helps keep them short and healthy, just like what guinea pigs do naturally out in the wild.

Wanna Give Your Piggies
the 5 STAR Treatment?

Stop getting dirty looks from your piggies, because you forgot to do something for them...AGAIN. These colorful, chore charts will help you keep track of when to feed your fuzz butts, clean their cages, and much more. 

FREE

Let’s Wrap It Up

There you have it, five ways to keep guinea pig nails short without having to cut them.

Hopefully one (or a happy combination) of these methods will work for you and your fur babies.

And remember, if at any time you’re unsure of what to do or how to do it – consult with a professional. They’ll be more than happy to help.

If you have any other tips on how to keep guinea pig nails short without cutting them, please share them in the comments below!

I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Grooming Guinea pigs. (n.d.). Companion Animals. https://companion-animals.extension.org/grooming-guinea-pigs/

Guinea lynx :: Nail clipping. (n.d.). Guinea Lynx :: A Medical and Care Guide for Your Guinea Pig. https://www.guinealynx.info/nails.html

How to care for your pet Guinea pig » small animal hospital » college of veterinary medicine » University of Florida. (n.d.). Small Animal Hospital » College of Veterinary Medicine » University of Florida. https://smallanimal.vethospital.ufl.edu/clinical-services/zoological-medicine/how-to-care-for-your-pet-guinea-pig/

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