How to Cut Guinea Pig Nails

guinea pig clipping nails 1

Occasionally, you will either have to get your guinea pig’s nails trimmed, or you’ll have to do it yourself. 

To properly trim their nails, you will need to gather three items. Those items are nail clippers for either humans or cats, styptic powder, and a cloth.

Why Should I Trim My Guinea Pig’s Nails?

If you don’t trim your guinea pig’s nails, they could get snagged on the carpet or fabric. This is especially dangerous if they are trying to run away from a predator. They could hurt themselves by poking themselves in the eye, and they could carry bacteria and fecal matter around their nails. Bacteria could end up going into their bodily systems and blood. This will get them very sick. It is for the health of your guinea pig that you trim their nails.

How Often Do I Cut My Guinea Pig’s Nails, and how Do I Know Its Time?

You should check your guinea pig’s nails at least once a month to make sure they are not growing too long. 

One sign that your guinea pig’s nails have grown too long is that when they are walking, the nails will get snagged on the carpet, or the nails will pierce the hay around their cage, and it will drag the hay around as they walk.

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Another sign you need to trim your guinea pig’s nails is when you go look at their nails; the nails are very jagged and broken. Long nails will often break and crack because they are not that strong.

But the most obvious sign that you should trim your guinea pig’s nails is when you see the nails are beginning to curl downwards. Besides being annoying to walk on, curled nails can cause injury to the paws of your guinea pig and ruin the area from where the nail grows. The nail cuticle will be damaged, and its nails will grow crooked for the rest of its life.

guinea pig long nails

What Equipment Do I Need?

So now you have inspected your guinea pigs’ nails and realize that they are due for a trim. You will need to gather several items that are inexpensive and easy to find. First, you have to get nail trimmers. We do not recommend using full nail clippers for humans, but you can use the miniature ones, or you can use the ones that are made for cats. After you find the nail clippers, you should buy styptic powder. Styptic powder is used to stop small wounds from bleeding, and you’ll need this when you accidentally cut into the vein that is in the middle of the nail.

Finally, the last items you’ll need are two cloths. The nails can fall on top of one of the cloths when they are cut. You can wrap up the discarded nails in the towel and shake it into the trashcan for easy cleanup.

Oh, you will also need your guinea pig, but I think you already knew that.

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There’s a vein in the middle of the nail?

Yes, there is a vein in the middle of a guinea pig’s nail. Guinea pig’s nails are not like human nails. Guinea pigs have nails that wrap around a vein and then grow past it. The vein doesn’t grow the full length of the nail. It stops around halfway between the cuticle and the tip of the nail. This vein is called the quick.

The Process of Trimming a Guinea Pig’s Nails

First, you must gather all your items together and your guinea pig and place them on one of the clothes. Then you must find where the quick is in each nail so you can know where to stop.

If your guinea pig has translucent nails, then you’ll be able to see where the quick is precisely. If they have dark nails, then you must trim the nail little by little and in small movements until you begin to see the quick with each trim.

When you trim their nails, never trim the nail in large chunks. Doing it this way will cause your guinea pig to bleed and be in pain. Always trim in small pieces.

Whenever you are done with trimming for the day, always give your guinea pig a tasty snack as a reward.

guinea pig hates nails

How to Keep a Guinea Pig Still?

Make sure your guinea pig is in a comfortable position. It is always better to have a second person helping you hold the guinea pig while you trim his nails. But if there is no second person there, then you can use your arm to hold down the guinea pig, and you can bend your wrist over to hold its paw the other hand will it trim the nail.

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If your guinea pig is moving too much, then you should not trim the nail. Wait until it is later in the night when the guinea pig is tired and try to trim it again. 

You can also wrap up your guinea pig in a towel like a burrito with the other cloth. Then you can slip out each paw to trim them. Do not let the guinea pigs move out of the hole in the towel behind them; wrap them up completely and hold them down.

What If I Cut the Nail, and It Starts to Bleed?

If you’re trimming the nail and you accidentally trim off some of the quick, and it begins to bleed, do not panic. Place a Q-tip into the styptic powder and spread it on the injured area. The powder helps stop small wounds from bleeding. After you apply the styptic, you will need to calm down your guinea pig. Pain causes guinea pigs to go into shock and fight or flight mode, so they will be petrified now. You may have to put them back in their cage and try another day.


  • Guinea pigs need their nails to be trimmed by humans
  • Bacterial can gather and fester in jagged, untrimmed nails.
  • You will need nail trimmers, a cloth, and styptic powder.
  • Styptic powder stops wounds from bleeding.
  • Having a second person hold down the guinea pig is the best way to restrain them.
  • When you are finished trimming their nails, give them their favorite snack as a reward.
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