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Feet Black nails... What should I do?


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Jun 3, 2012
Both Rhode and Robin have black front paws and nails, so I don't know how to tell where the quick is. I don't want to accidentally cut it.

Also, how long should the nails be before I clip them? I'm new at guinea pig care, so I'm really sure. They're both 2-months-old, and as far as I could tell (they won't stay still long enough for me to get a closer look), their nails seemed to be more or less 5mm long, and they aren't that curly yet.

Shine a flashlight through the nails. I trim my pigs nails 1-2 times a month. Some of my pig's nails grow faster than the others.
I have two girls and only one black nail out of a total of 28 so I am lucky. I saw a video on the net and the lady recommended just taking off the tips of the nails, but do it often. I know from experience with my dogs that if you take of a little bit, but cut them often, you are less likely to cut the quick and the quick actually recedes if you do it regularly. I hope this helps.
Also if your scared you can usually get a vet/vet tech to do it. It might cost a little but it can help set you up for doing it yourself. Most animal nails will grow with a small notch indicating where the last cliping had been. When i worked at a vets office thats how we did most black nails that came to us multiple times. There is a very good chance though that the quick will get cut at some point. They'll freak out and act like their dieing but it only hurts for a little bit and they should be fine shortly thereafter. They have powders that help with accidentle quick cuts. Great to have just in case. My two have clear nails but really long quicks so i just take the tip off to dull them a little and leave it at that. When your unsure little bits at a time are best. And dont panic!
Thank you very much.

Which type of powder would you recommend for accidental quick cuts? And where could I buy it? I live in Ontario, Canada, so it has to be a product that could be bought there.
With dark nails. cut off tiny increments and look at the flat cut edge of the nail after each cut. As you approach the quick, the center of the flat edge will start getting darker.... almost like the rings in a tree. I stop cutting when I see that dark center starting to show.
Thank you very much.

Which type of powder would you recommend for accidental quick cuts? And where could I buy it? I live in Ontario, Canada, so it has to be a product that could be bought there.

They should have blood clotting powder in the grooming section of a pet store, or corn starch can be used in a pinch.
My Elliot has black nails on all of her feet. It is possible to clip black nails successfully and painlessly! :)

I always have someone help me out. The other person holds veggies in front of her face while I clip the nails. I tend to clip the VERY tips to ensure I do not clip into the quick.

My other guinea pig has white nails, so I clip them shorter because I can see the quick. Elliot's nails are always just a tiny bit longer, because I avoid going too short. Sometimes it helps to clip a white nailed guinea pig first, then a black one, cause you can get a better idea of where the quicks should be.

After a while, you will get a natural feel for it. I am able to tell if I can clip a bit more of the nail or not. I'm not too sure how I can tell. I don't use a flashlight or anything, I just go with my gut feeling.

It's a bit tough to be calm while clipping black nails. :p I used to shake and sweat so badly when I clipped Elliot's nails. It would take FOREVER to trim them. Now I breeze through them very quickly without any anxiety. It probably takes me less than a minute to trim all of her nails.
Has anyone heard of the Quik Klot? It's a topical styptic powder. The active ingredients are iron subsulfate 61%, aluminum ammonium sulfate dodecahydrate 20%, kaolin 16%, copper sulfate 2%, and idophor 1%.

Does anyone know if this is good to use?
I am in B.C. and bought a Styptic Powder called "Quick Blood Stopper" at the Pet Store. It is by Four Paws. I have only had to use it once, but I am sure Abbey is still holding a grudge.

What kind of clippers are you using? I used human toe nail clippers at first because I was used to using them on myself. They hated them, because they pinch before they cut. I am now feeling more confident and like the scissor type for small dogs or cats way better. They cut much cleaner without pinching and the girls don't flinch anymore.
Truthfully, I haven't tried it yet. I've only gotten Rhode and Robin two days ago. They still wouldn't let me pet them yet. But, to answer your question, I plan to try human nail clippers first. If they don't like it, I'll buy the scissor-type.
My guineas have black nails. I'm going to second what others have said and recommend that you trim just a little bit at a time. When in doubt, be conservative where you snip.

I know some places say you can just use people fingernail trimmers, but I would strongly recommend that you use actual animal nail clippers. People trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause more pain than the animal clippers, plus animal clippers are rounded and let you get all the way around the nail and line up your cut, so to speak.

I clip my guinea pigs' nails whenever they scratch and catch skin when I'm picking them up, which tends to be every three to four weeks.

I also try to bribe them with Oxbow Timothy Treats. I get a little forgiveness when I do that. Hold their paws gently and firmly. I find that holding them against my chest and then using my non-dominant hand to hold their paw/nails works just fine. They grind their teeth and chatter at me the entire time, but I'm the boss, not them. (Or so I like to tell myself!)
When you're cutting their nails, it can help to wrap up their "extra" paws (the ones you aren't clipping at the moment) in a blanket and kinda swaddle them so they can't squirm as much. I cut my guinea pigs nails as well as a friend's GP's nails about once every two weeks.

As was stated earlier, the more you cut them - the farther back the quick goes and it's easier to cut them shorter. Quik Stop works really well to stop bleeding if it does occur.

I suggest buying the smallest pair of scissor type clippers you can find. My friend has bigger ones and trying to use hers was a pain and it intimidated the piggies more than the small ones.

If your piggies nails aren't in need of a cut yet, I suggest buying the nail clippers now and getting your pigs used to seeing them before you actually need to use them - Foggycreek suggested tapping the clippers on their nails without actually cutting their nails so they're used to the clippers not being associated with pain and not as scared when you really do use them. It's worked for my piggies, they're less skiddish than my friend's piggies when I have to cut their nails...

Best of luck cutting your piggies nails!!
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