Feeding your Guinea pig the right foods is critically important in maintaining a happy and healthy Guinea Pig. So what are the best foods for your Guinea Pig ? How much should you be feeding them? and what are the common health risks associated to a poor diet ? This article is aimed at answering all of your Guinea Pig food questions, and looks at some of the top Guinea Pig foods available to buy online.
Common Guinea Pig Health Issues
Why Guinea Pigs need vitamin C
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an essential nutrient which is used in the repair of tissue and prevention of scurvy. It also plays a key part in maintaining and boosting the immune system.
Unfortunately, Guinea pigs are unable to form their
Bladder stones in Guinea Pigs
Bladder stones are tiny crystals of calcium which can form anywhere in the urinary tract, most commonly in the bladder or urethra.
Guinea pigs which have a high pellet diet, and less hay and fresh fruit and veggies are are more likely to suffer from bladder stones, so it is important to vary your Guinea Pig’s diet as much as possible.
Some of the more common signs that your Guinea pig has bladder or Urinary stones can be more frequent urinating, or straining to urinate. A
More advanced cases of bladder stones may cause your Guinea pig to have low energy levels, and may appear to have a hunched posture.
Unfortunately, surgery is often required to remove these stones as they are too large to be passed through the urinal tract. If in any doubt it is always best to seek advice from your local veterinary surgeon as to the best cause of action for your Guinea pig.
UTI Urinary tract Infections in Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are also prone to developing UTIs or urinary tract infections. Which we’ll learn about more here.
The main cause is too much calcium in their diet. A close second is by infections from their genitals being in contact with a dirty cage floor, which is a hotbed of bacteria.
The tell tale signs that your buddy has contracted a UTI is very much similar to that of the stones. Painful urination (listen out for squeaks when peeing), blood in their urine and more frequent urination are all good indicators that there may be a UTI.
Again the best course of action if you detect any of these signs is a trip to your local vet, who will be able to diagnose further.
Treatment for UTIs is usually a course of antibiotics to clear up any infections. Prevention is, of course, better than cure, so be sure to feed your Guinea pig a varied diet with plenty of water. Vitamin C, as discussed above is crucial to help your piggy fight infections as and when they develop. It is also really important to clean out your Guinea Pig regularly to reduce the risk of coming into contact with feces and urine left in the substrate.
Guinea Pig Weight issues
Guinea Pigs love to eat! and with that in mind, we should be very careful of the amount of food and treats we are feeding them on a daily basis to maintain a healthy weight. Read our blog on Guinea Pig weight for more information on quantities and how to monitor your guinea Pig’s weight.
Guinea Pig Diet
We have discussed above the various health complications you might experience with Guinea pig keeping, so how can we ensure we are giving our little non-furry pets a good chance at avoiding all of these?
A well balanced and healthy diet is the number one place to start.
Firstly, a readily available supply of fresh water is a must. We recommend having multiple sources of water available as a safety net in case one of your dispensers is faulty or gets blocked up. There are many good quality water dispensers on the market to suit all budgets.
Secondly, a good supply of vitamin C. As mentioned above Guinea pigs are unable to produce their own Ascorbic acid, so a supplement in their diet is essential to maintaining health.
And last but not least, a varied and balanced diet.
Avoid a completely pellet based diet, which is high in calcium and can cause UTIs and bladder stones.
Do Guinea Pigs eat their own poop?
In short, yes they do ! although there are two types of poop produced. A softer dropping called caecotrophs, are an essential part of a guinea pig diet, and help your Cavy absorb all the goodness from their fiber rich diet. The other less nutritious hard shiny poop is not eaten.
Guinea Pig Food List
What is the best Hay for Guinea Pigs?
Grass Hay is a staple for Guinea pigs, so ensure there is plenty available. Popular healthy hay types include:
- Timothy Hay
- Orchard Grass
- Meadow hay
Avoid feeding your Guinea pig Alfalfa hay as it has a high calcium content and can cause bladder stones.
What are the best Vegetables for a Guinea pig?
Be sure to include fresh, leafy green vegetables, with high vitamin C content. S
- Lettuces (excluding iceberg lettuce which has no nutritional value)
- Carrot tops
- Chicory greens
- Curly endive
Add some other fresh vegetables. Some good healthy options are:
- Celery leaves
- Pumpkin (seeds removed)
- Turnip greens
- Corn Husks
- Beetroot (not pickled)
Add in some fruit, in moderation:
- Apples with skin – remove the toxic seeds!
- Pears, again with no seeds
- Cranberries. These are especially good for UTI treatment/ prevention.
- Kiwi fruit
- Canteloupe melon
- water melon
Foods to avoid feeding a Guinea pig?
Foodstuffs to avoid feeding a Guinea pig include:
- Anything in the cabbage family, which can cause bloat if fed regularly so best to avoid.
- Iceberg lettuce – little or no nutritional goodness
- Potatoes – Skin is poisonous, plus they are very starchy and high in Oxalic acid
- Nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans. with the exception of green beans.
- Pickled vegetables
- Chilli peppers!
- Dairy products
- Avacado – high-fat content
- Coconut – High-fat content
- Garlic and onions
The Best Pellet based foods for your Guinea Pig
Although you should avoid feeding a solely pellet based diet to your Guinea Pig, they can form part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Pelleted foods should be high in fiber, and contain protected vitamin C to get the full benefit. Always opt the for the highest quality pellet available to you and within your budget, and ensure they are specifically formulated for Guinea Pigs.
Also look out for plain pellets rather than a mixture, to avoid your Guinea Pig picking out all the ones he likes, and leaving the others, which is wasteful.
Its worth noting that pellets are definitely not a replacement for an abundant supply of fresh grass hay. They can, however, provide an additional source of fiber and Vitamin C which is great if fed as part of a well rounded diet.