In this article, you’ll learn almost everything on how to clip a guinea pig’s nails, what to do when your guinea pig is scared of getting their nails clipped, and so much more.
Clipping a guinea pig’s nails is not an easy job, and even though I’ve cut my piggies’ nails for years now, I still get nervous when I have to give their nails a trim.
Do guinea pigs need their nails clipped?
Yes, clipping your guinea pig’s nails regularly is important for guinea pigs to maintain their health and well-being. Guinea pigs have continuously growing nails, and if left untrimmed, their nails can become overgrown, leading to various problems.
Here’s why regular nail clipping is essential for guinea pigs::
- Prevents overgrown
- reduces pain and discomfort
- prevents infections
- maintains mobility
- and more
What Are The Best Guinea Pig Nail Clippers?
These types of guinea pig nail clippers are specifically designed for your grip and the scissor blades can let you swiftly trim their natural rounded nail shape.
You can see all the products and supplies I am using for my guinea pigs here (NONE are sponsored)
Can I use regular nail clippers for guinea pigs?
Yes, you can. Although it is best to use nail clippers designed for guinea pigs, if you really don’t have access to it at the moment, small baby nail clippers can work too.
However, regular human nail clippers may squeeze your guinea pig’s nail with trimming, which can be painful. So keep that in mind, that animal nail clippers are inexpensive for the comfort level of both you and your guinea pig.
How often should I cut my guinea pig’s nails?
How often you should clip a guinea pig’s nails depends on their nail growth, which will differ with age and hormones. However, the rule of thumb is to clip your guinea pig’s nails once a month.
How to cut a scared guinea pig’s nails – Step-by-Step Guide
We will be diving deep into how to trim your guinea pig’s nails step by step from picking up your potato to after you finished clipping its nails. There will also be a lot of tips on how to keep both you, the piggy parent, and your guinea pig, calm and less stressed out.
Step 1. Prepare everything
Choose the right environment
Clip your guinea pig’s nails in a safe, calm place where it is familiar with. Remove any distractions, including loud noises.
I highly suggest that you clip your guinea pig’s nails on the ground because if it jumps off of you while trimming, it won’t get hurt.
Gather all the supplies
Here are the things you should have near arm’s reach when you trim a guinea pig’s nails.
- Good, clean guinea pig nail clippers
- a towel to put on your lap
- Your guinea pig’s favourite veggies
- DIY guinea pig first aid kit especially styptic powder, which can instantly stop an animal’s bleeding
How to clip a guinea pig’s nails – do it alone or with a partner?
With one person holding your guinea pig and the second doing the trimming part, not only will both of you be able to focus on one task, but this way it’s also much easier and less stressful.
Step 2. Put your piggy on your lap
Once you’ve finished preparing, it’s time to get your guinea pig on your lap. How?
You can do this using two ways: pick up your guinea pig, or lure your guinea pig
Option A: Pick up your guinea pig
When you want to hold your guinea pig, you need to use both hands. One hand should block the guinea pig from moving forward, and the other should prevent it from going backward.
Put one hand under the guinea pig’s chest and belly, and the other under its back legs and body. Many guinea pigs enjoy being held close to your chest for safety and comfort.
Place a soft towel for guinea pigs on your lap and gently hold your guinea pig.
This is the most effective way to put your piggy on your lap. However, it might be stressful for some guinea pigs, which is why I “invented” the two-step luring-elevator way.
Option 2: Luring and Elevator Method
This method is a more calming way to pick up your guinea pig, but this way requires your guinea pig’s trust in you and its love for food.
- First, use a carrier or a one-way hideout with 5 sides. Using some veggies, lure your guinea pig into the carrier/hideout
- Once it is inside, close the opening. Then transfer your guinea pig into your nail-trimming area and lure your piggy onto your lap using some treats.
“Picking up” your guinea pig
- Cuddle with your piggy for a minute or so, giving them some veggies if they constantly want to leave. Using veggies or treats, lure your guinea pig to face away from you. Their bums should be close to your stomach.
- With one hand, palms facing up, and the other with some veggies, place your hand directly in front of your guinea pig, right above their noses. Use the hand with the treat to lure your guinea pig to place its paws onto your other hand.
- Now, both of your hands should be slightly overlapped, palms facing up, with both of your guinea pig’s paws on top of your hands. Slowly, elevate your hands upward and towards your stomach. Your piggy’s paws and body should be leaning back and onto the nail-clipping position
- Carefully adjust to make sure your guinea pig is comfortable. I highly recommend watching the video for visuals.
Step 3. How to clip a scared guinea pig’s nails
- Good, clean guinea pig nail clippers
- styptic powder
- a towel
- Your guinea pig's favourite veggies
- Make sure your guinea pig is calm and offer them some treats to create a positive association with the nail clipping process
- If you haven't already, gently pick up your guinea pig and hold it securely but gently in your lap, supporting its body with one hand and holding its paw with the other.
- Take a close look at your guinea pig's nails. You'll notice the translucent part at the end is the safe part to trim. Avoid cutting into the pinkish area, called the quick, as it contains blood vessels and nerves. For guinea pigs with black nails, I'll be showing on how to tell where is the quick very soon.
- Using the guinea pig nail clippers or scissors, carefully trim the tip of each nail. Make small, gradual cuts to avoid cutting into the quick. at an angle like the image down below
- Continue trimming all the nails on all four paws, taking your time and being cautious not to cut too close to the quick. Give your guinea pig treats occasionally during the process to distract it and to give it positive reinforcement that will help it associate nail clipping with a positive experience.
see article for more tips
Tips for the easiest way to clip a guinea pig’s nails
Here are some tips to clip a guinea pig’s nails effectively and avoid injuries.
- Use Proper Lighting: Ensure you have good lighting to see your guinea pig’s nails clearly. This can help you avoid cutting too close to the quick.
- Team Effort: As I said earlier, have a helper if possible. One person can hold the guinea pig securely while the other trims the nails. This makes the process smoother and less stressful.
- Practice Without Cutting: Before attempting to trim their nails, practice holding their paws and getting them used to the sensation of the clippers or scissors without actually cutting.
- Use Quality Tools: Invest in good-quality guinea pig nail clippers or small scissors designed for the purpose. Moreover, sharp tools make the process quicker and less uncomfortable for your pet.
- Trim a Little at a Time: Trim just a small portion of the nail at a time to reduce the risk of cutting the quick. This may require multiple trimming sessions if the nails are long.
- Have Treats Ready: Keep some of your guinea pig’s favourite treats nearby to reward them during and after the nail trimming process.
How to make nail trimming for guinea pigs less stressful?
- Be Calm and Patient: Approach the process with a calm and patient demeanour. Speak softly to your guinea pig and avoid sudden movements.
- Frequent Handling: Get your guinea pig used to being handled regularly. This helps them become more comfortable with human touch and reduces their stress during nail trimming.
- Start Early: Begin nail trimming when your guinea pig is still young. This will make them more accustomed to the process as they grow older.
- Associate Positive Experiences: Create positive associations with nail trimming by offering treats and gentle praise before, during, and after the procedure.
- Take Breaks: If your guinea pig becomes too stressed or agitated, it’s okay to take breaks between nail trimming sessions. This can help reduce their anxiety.
- Routine and Consistency: Establish a regular nail trimming schedule, so your guinea pig knows what to expect. Consistency can help them become more comfortable with the process over time.
Remember that every guinea pig is unique, and some may be more tolerant of nail trimming than others. Additionally, be patient and persistent, and over time, your guinea pig should become more accustomed to the process, making it easier and less stressful for both of you.
How to cut guinea pig nails that are black?
Due to the lack of visibility, locating a guinea pig’s nails that are black can be challenging. However, there are several techniques you can try if necessary:
- Use a bright light source: Shine a flashlight to illuminate the nail from behind. This can help make the quick more visible as a dark shadow within the nail.
- Observe the nail shape: Look for the natural curve or bend in the nail. The quick typically follows the shape of the nail. By observing the curvature, you can get an idea of where the quick is positioned.
- Pay attention to the nail layers: Guinea pig nails are composed of layers. When you approach the quick, you may notice a change in texture from hard to softer. This softer area is an indication that you are getting closer to the quick.
- Trim conservatively: Start by trimming a small portion of the nail at a time. Make gradual cuts, stopping periodically to check how close you are to the quick. This cautious approach reduces the risk of accidentally cutting into the quick.
Remember, it’s vital to proceed with caution and take your time when trimming black guinea pig nails to avoid injuring your pet.
Getting professional help to clip a guinea pig’s nails
There’s nothing wrong with being stressed when clipping a guinea pig’s nails. And sometimes maybe seeking a professional to trim your potato’s nails is the best option for both of you.
I have gone to pet stores or vets and asked them to trim my guinea pig’s nails in the first month after adopting him. There are not many places where you can go, and you will have to pay a fee to get its nails trimmed.
Where can I get my guinea pig’s nails clipped?
Here are some places where you might be able to get your guinea pig’s nails clipped by a professional. Be sure to contact them beforehand and ask if they can provide this service first. Even so, most of the time they will require a fee.
- Your veterinary clinic
- Pet stores
- Professional groomers
- Guinea pig shelters or rescues
How much does it cost to trim guinea pigs’ nails?
Although the cost to get a professional to trim your guinea pig’s nails differs from their services and places, I find that usually the price to just clip a guinea pig’s nails is around $5-$15 USD.
Also, if you have a vet appointment, sometimes they are willing to give your guinea pig’s nails a trim for free.
Conclusion – How to clip a guinea pig’s nails
So there it is a step-by-step guide on how to clip a guinea pig’s nails when they’re scared. I hope you found this article helpful and if you did, consider subscribing to the I C Cinnamon mailing list and our YouTube channel, because both are free and contain incredibly helpful information about guinea pigs.