How to trim a guinea pig's nails


Are you supposed to go somewhere to clip your guinea pig’s nails? If so, where?


Hi, Jolene!

Trimming guinea pig nails is just like trimming any other animals’ nails. I usually recommend a human toenail clipper for the job if you are unfamiliar with pet clippers as most people are familiar and comfortable using and maneuvering them. Once you get comfortable with the nail clipping, you may want to get a pair of pet clippers. Make sure you have some styptic powder or, better yet, Super Clot gel on hand and that all of your supplies are handy before you start.

Guinea pigs, parakeets, dogs, cats, chickens, rats – any pet with claws or talons – has a nail with a vein running through the inside called the “quick.” The goal in trimming the nails is to keep the animal comfortable and healthy and prevent the quick from growing out too far. If you’ve never trimmed the nails, the quick can be quite long. It will recede over time with regular nail clipping (once a week). Once you have them where you want them, monthly trimming is usually sufficient.

If your piggy is comfortable in you lap, just place them there, make sure you’re both settled, and gently pick up a foot. If they aren’t as comfortable with being handled, you can wrap them in a hand towel like a little burrito to help keep them still with their feet accessible. Cut off just the tip of the nail unless you can clearly see where the quick ends. You want to leave about 2-3mm of nail beyond the quick. There are lots of instructional images and videos online and your vet should also be willing to trim the nails for you (for a fee) and may show you how to do it in person if you’d like a hands-on tutorial. May Chuck & Don’s locations also host nail trims once a month or more, so feel free to call and ask if they’d be willing to trim up your guinea pig!