If you’ve opened your home to a pet guinea pig, you’re in for a treat. Guinea pigs are special creatures and will make a wonderful addition to your family. At the same time, they require proper care to keep them healthy and content.
It wouldn’t hurt to schedule a vet checkup soon after bringing your critter home just to verify he’s in good health. If you have questions concerning the dietary needs, care or behavior of your new pet, your vet’s the best person to ask.
Upon inspecting your pet (or watching your vet inspect him for you), you may notice dry, crusty outgrowths under the toes or on the heel of your piggy’s front feet.
These strange outgrowths are foot spurs and may jut outward like a toenail from the bottom of your piggy’s tiny foot. Guinea pig foot spurs are fairly common and aren’t harmful, per se, to your pet.
Not all guinea pigs develop spurs, but if your pet does, it’s no cause for concern as they can easily be removed.
Although foot spurs aren’t dangerous or harmful to your guinea pig, they do need to be trimmed to avoid getting caught in your pet’s bedding and tearing.
This can be done with nail clippers, using care not to cut into your piggy’s tender paw and cause it to bleed. In addition to removing foot spurs, you’ll need to trim your guinea pig’s nails from time to time to prevent them from curving inward and jabbing the pads of its tiny feet
If you feel uncomfortable performing these tasks, you could have them done by your vet.
What Causes Guinea Pig Foot Spurs?
It’s not really known why some guinea pigs develop foot spurs and others don’t, other than it’s probably a genetic condition.
Your furry friend’s exercise habits, activity level and overall care could in some way contribute to this foot condition.
A guinea pig’s environment, however, such as the type of cage it lives in, its bedding, hay for tunneling, playtoys and level of cleanliness have nothing to do with the development of spurs on its feet.
A clean cage environment is essential to preventing sores on your piggy’s feet which can become infected and affect his mobility.
It’s estimated that one in every four guinea pigs will develop foot spurs over the course of their lifespan.
Some guinea pigs never have this problem, while others experience recurring bouts with foot spurs at certain stages of their life or their whole life through.
Fortunately, foot spurs are not permanent features; they can be removed to avoid problems with your piggy’s mobility. It’s always a good idea to check your piggy’s feet periodically to see if anything is amiss.
By observing your pet’s behavior and activities, you can tell if it’s having trouble with its feet. Signs like limping, incessant foot biting or licking or crying when walking or running are clear indications that something’s wrong with your baby’s feet.
Overgrown foot spurs can be painful for a guinea pig and pose a risk of injury. It’s best to trim spurs as often as necessary to enable your piggy to walk and play comfortably.
Do You Have To Remove Guinea Pig Foot Spurs?
Painful foot spurs can affect more than your piggy’s feet and mobility; they can impact his behavior, disposition and mental stability.
Guinea pigs may not be as active as hamsters or mice, but they enjoy scampering around in their environment, tunneling through their bedding and playing with their toys.
Overgrown foot spurs can cut into your guinea pig’s active lifestyle by hindering its mobility.
Left unchecked, foot spurs can become so unmanageable, your guinea pig may cry when walking or resort to walking with a limp.
Guinea pigs have tiny feet that support large, round bodies. Any excess pressure on your piggy’s feet can cause pain and discomfort when it moves about.
Long foot spurs can easily tear if they get caught in your guinea pig’s bedding, putting your piggy at risk of developing an infection in its paw.
The best way to avoid foot problems with your guinea pig is to clip foot spurs when they first arise, before they grow long, tough and pointy.
If you’re a first time guinea pig owner and don’t feel comfortable cutting off your pet’s spurs, seek help from your vet. Schedule a video call with your veterinarian and show him your piggy’s feet so he can make an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition.
Once your vet confirms that your piggy has spurs, he can walk you through the removal process. If you’re worried about cutting your piggy’s foot and causing it to bleed, your vet can remove the spurs for you at your next veterinary visit.
How To Treat A Guinea Pig’s Foot Spur!
A healthy, happy guinea pig is one that has healthy, pain-free feet for mobility. Foot spurs can hinder your piggy from being as mobile as he’d like to be.
Although it’s normal for these spurs to develop, you don’t have to accept them if they’re going to cause your pet pain and distress.
Some guinea pigs stop eating or drinking when they’re in pain, show no interest in playing or won’t let you come near them, which will impact their health and quality of life.
Although foot spurs aren’t life-threatening to your guinea pig, they can pose a risk to his happiness and well-being.
That’s why it’s important to treat them before they become major issues. By clipping foot spurs when they first appear, you avoid problems with them tearing or ripping when your pet is exercising or playing.
Torn spurs open the door to fungal infections in your pet’s feet, which requires more intensive treatment.
Foot spur treatment is not a complicated procedure. All that’s required to remove guinea pig foot spurs is a sharp pair of nail scissors or nail clippers.
Using either of these tools, you gently cut the spur, which is actually dead skin, taking care not to clip your pet’s paw in the process. When done right, your guinea pig feels no pain as it’s comparable to trimming nails. He will, however, notice a clear difference in his mobility.
Guinea pig foot spurs are fairly common and easy to treat. Removing the spur will enable your guinea pig to enjoy active, pain-free mobility. Your piggy will be more conducive to playing, cuddling and bonding with you when he’s not hindered by foot spurs or other painful health issues.