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rabbit nail trims

Nail Trimming Tips for Rabbits and Other Pocket Pets

Nail trimming is important in all species. Overgrown nails can curve back and grow into the paw or pads causing pain and infection. Overgrown nails are more likely to be caught on items and tear or break. Long nails can also change how your pet walks and moves by making them walk on their tiptoes or shifting the normal weight distribution in the limbs causing discomfort. Now that you know how important nail trimming is, let’s go over tips and techniques to help you keep those nails trimmed at home safely!

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How to Trim Your Rabbit’s Nails

Many rabbits have white nails, which makes nail trims easier since you can see the quick. The quick is the pink part of the nail nearest the toe where the vessels and nerves live. We want to avoid cutting into that, otherwise, the nail will bleed and we will cause pain to our pet.

Have all your supplies ready, including nail trimmers for cats, a towel, treats for your bunny as a reward, and styptic powder, flour, or corn starch in case you trim the nail too short and it starts to bleed. Having a friend hold your bunny in a towel can make this much easier, especially if you’re just getting used to trimming the nails at home.

Wrap your bunny up in the towel like a burrito with the head and one paw exposed. You can lightly cover the eyes with the towel, but don’t cover the entire head. Rabbits have very strong backs and can kick so hard they can cause serious injury to themselves, even possibly breaking their back. This is the reason for a nice burrito towel wrap - to keep those back legs from kicking out!

Once you’re sitting on the floor with your bunny wrapped, evaluate the nails on the exposed paw. If the nails are white, look for the pink quick area and trim back just enough to avoid this area. If the nails are black or brown and you cannot see the quick, start by trimming just a few millimeters at a time from the nail tip and working your way back. When you get close the quick, your bunny may flinch or pull the paw back.

If you accidentally trim into the quick, stay calm and apply the styptic powder, corn starch, or flour to the bleeding end and hold pressure for 10-30 seconds to get the bleeding to stop. Give your bunny a break and a treat and resume the nail trim the next day.

If all goes well with the first paw, you can readjust your towel wrap by tucking the trimmed paw back inside the towel and gently exposing the next paw.

Ferret Nail Trimming Tips

Ferrets have sharp, but thin nails. You can use human cuticle trimmers or cat nail trimmers for ferrets.

You can scruff your ferret to get them to stay still and trim the nails rather easily. Just be sure to avoid the pink quick area that contains the vessels and nerves.

If you prefer not to scruff your ferret, you can let them run around and play for a while to get their energy out, then lay your ferret on their back on your lap. Apply a little Ferretone, canned cat food, or another high reward treat on their tummy for them to lick off as you trim their nails.

If you accidentally cut into the quick, stay calm, and apply styptic powder, flour, or corn starch to stop the bleeding and hold pressure to the nail tip for 10-30 seconds. Stop the nail trim and start again the next day.

Guinea Pig Nail Trim Techniques

Guinea pigs have soft nails that curve close the pads of the paw. You can use either human cuticle clippers or small cat nail trimmers for your guinea pig.

Sit on the floor with your guinea pig for the nail trim. If they are not very accustomed to being handled, please use a towel and wrap them lightly with one paw and the head exposed. You can have a friend offer the guinea pig’s favorite fruit or treat to distract them or have it ready as a reward once the nail trim is done.

If you can see the pink quick area through any of the nails, use this as a marker for where to trim toward. You do not want to cut into the quick as it will cause pain and bleeding. If you cannot see the quick area, start trimming small amounts from the tip and work your way back.

If you accidentally cut into the quick, stay calm, and apply styptic powder, flour, or corn starch to stop the bleeding and hold pressure to the nail tip for 10-30 seconds. Stop the nail trim and start again the next day.

Hamster/Gerbil Nail Trimming Tips

Hamsters and gerbils have very small nails to go with their small size! Do not grab your gerbil by the tail as it can cause the skin on the tail to pull away, leaving just the bone and little muscle tissue behind. Use a small towel instead and wrap your little friend in it with the head exposed and 1 paw out. You can gently scruff their neck through the towel if needed.

Use human cuticle clippers or cat nail trimmers and just trim a little bit at a time and work back to the pink quick area. Do not cut into the quick as this will cause pain and bleeding. If you accidentally cut into the quick, stay calm and apply styptic powder, corn starch, or flour to stop the bleeding and hold pressure on the nail tip for 10-30 seconds.

Read more:

How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails

How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Have more questions about trimming your pet’s nails?

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