Guinea pigs love to play, but sometimes playtime can end badly. A fractured toe may be the result of a runaway wheel, a fall or untrimmed toenails. Regardless, this is something that does need attention and is also easily preventable. Understanding the basics of why fractures happen, how they can be treated and what you can do to prevent them will make you a more responsible guinea pig owner.
A guinea pig's toe could fracture for a number of reasons. First of all, the animal may have fallen from a high place in the cage. His toe may have gotten caught in his cage or exercise wheel. Another guinea pig may have even bitten the animal's foot, resulting in a fracture. The broken toe could also be the result of improperly trimmed toenails that snag on fabric. The good news is that most guinea pig toe fractures are avoidable.
Veterinary care will be necessary to care for the toe fracture. The vet will work to stabilize the toe so that it can heal, and will provide pain medication. Depending on how the toe was fractured, the toe may have to be surgically removed. Accidents that may require amputation may include toes getting caught in wheels and bites from other guinea pigs. If this is the case, antibiotics may also be provided to help prevent infection in the amputated area.
While your guinea pig's toe is healing, you want to make her as comfortable as possible. This means creating a soft area for her to rest in and moving food and water closer so that she doesn't have to walk on the injured foot more than necessary. Follow any directions the vet gives you for care and providing medication.
A safe guinea pig habitat will be free of ledges that your pet can fall off, and free of wire exercise wheels. If you must provide an exercise wheel for your guinea pig, choose a solid-surface wheel that won't catch the guinea pig's toes. It's true that guinea pigs also need a lot of space, but the cage should have lots of floor space, and a solid floor surface, rather than upper space and a wire floor. If you want to house more than one guinea pig together, do so from the beginning. This helps ensure that they get along and are less likely to fight. You also need to trim your guinea pig's toenails regularly to prevent snags. Lastly, when handling a guinea pig, always do so in a sitting position so that the animal doesn't fall from a dangerous height should he jump from your hands.
- Guinea Lynx: Nail Clipping
- Raising a Healthy Guinea Pig; Wanda L. Curran
- The Guinea Pig Handbook; Sharon Lynn Vanderlip
- George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images