Feeding your Guinea pig the right foods is critically important in maintaining a happy and healthy Guinea Pig.
What can Guinea Pigs eat, How much should you be feeding them, and what are the common health risks associated with a poor diet?
This article will answer those questions and give you a guide to the best, and worst, guinea pig foods and treats.
Table of Contents
Guinea Pig Diet
A healthy balanced diet is the number one place to start.
Guinea pigs are herbivores.
This means that their diet is made up solely of high-quality hay and grass, vegetable-based mixes and pellets, and fresh fruits and vegetables (more on this later). They must not eat meat, dairy or egg-based foods. The ultimate vegan diet!
Another important note is that guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C naturally.
Most guinea pig pellets and mixes contain vitamin C to provide your guinea pig with enough vitamin C to stay fit and healthy.
The final point to note is that the guinea pig’s teeth continuously grow. This is another important reason why a guinea pig’s diet should contain hay. Guinea pigs are grazers and eat a lot of hay, almost constantly, and this is their way of keeping their teeth in check.
And of course, a readily available supply of clean fresh water is a must.
We recommend having multiple sources of water available in case one of your dispensers is faulty or gets blocked up. A water bottle is best as bowls tend to get knocked over or soiled.
There are many good quality water bottles on the market to suit all budgets. These should be checked and refilled every day.
How often should I feed my guinea pig?
You should feed your guinea pig twice daily.
Like humans, Guinea pigs are creatures of habit, so it’s good practice to get into a daily feeding routine with your small pet. One that fits around your own busy schedule works best.
What Can Guinea Pigs Eat Daily?
Guinea pig hay should be topped up twice daily. Once in the morning and once in the evening
Their pellets should be topped up at least daily. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how much to feed per day. These portions can be split into two if you prefer to feed morning and evening.
It’s important to remove any uneaten pellets daily to keep their food fresh.
Your pet guinea can be fed fresh vegetables daily. This is a great way to give them the much-needed boost of vitamin C, as well as other healthy nutrients and fiber.
|Vegetables and Greens|
What Can Guinea Pigs eat as a treat?
Guinea Pigs can eat fresh fruit as a treat, but it does have a high sugar content and should be given occasionally, maybe one or two times a week only.
Guinea pigs are prone to diabetes and it’s very important to avoid too many foods that contain sugars.
There are many store-bought treats available, and these do offer an easy alternative to fresh fruit. Most are great, but some can offer little nutritional value, so always check the ingredients.
We’d always say fresh is best if possible.
How to introduce new foods to your guinea pig
As you learn more about foods a guinea pig can eat, you’ll be tempted to try some out. It’s important to introduce any new foods slowly, and a little at a time.
When trying any new food, start with small amounts, with a day or two in between, and check for any changes in stools. This is especially important with fresh fruits and vegetables. Changes in diet can cause gas or diarrhea.
Always rinse fresh food to remove any pesticides.
What Can Guinea Pigs Eat – The Guinea Pig Food List
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.
Guinea Pig Pellets
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 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.
List of the best Vegetables for a Guinea pig
Be sure to include fresh, leafy green vegetables, with high vitamin C content. Rinse all vegetables before feeding to remove any pesticides.
Below is a list of some of the best vegetables to feed your guinea pig.
(Click on any of the links below for more information and nutritional values)
|Celery||Lettuce (Except Iceberg)||Tomatoes|
|Carrot (Including Carrot Tops)||Brocolli||Cabbage|
|Peppers (Red and Green)||Cauliflower||Raddish|
List of the best Fruits for a Guinea pig
Fruits are high in natural sugars so should be fed in moderation, or as an occasional treat only.
(Click on any of the links below for more information and nutritional values)
Foods to avoid feeding a Guinea pig?
Foodstuffs to avoid feeding a Guinea pig include:
- 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
Common Guinea Pig Diet-Related Health Issues
Why Guinea Pigs need vitamin C
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an essential nutrient that is used in the repair of tissue and the prevention of scurvy. It also plays a key part in maintaining and boosting the immune system.
Unfortunately, Guinea pigs are unable to form their own ascorbic acid naturally, so it is important to supplement their diets with Vitamin C to keep them fit and healthy and help them fight off infections and recover from scrapes and cuts.
Bladder stones in Guinea Pigs
Bladder stones are tiny crystals of calcium that can form anywhere in the urinary tract, most commonly in the bladder or urethra.
Guinea pigs that have a high pellet diet, and less hay and fresh fruit and veggies 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 a bladder or Urinary stones can be more frequent urinating, or straining to urinate. Also, be on the lookout for blood in the urine or red patches around the hindquarters.
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. We’ll learn more here.
The main cause is too much calcium in their diet. A close second is infections from their genitals being in contact with a dirty cage floor, which is a hotbed of bacteria.
The telltale signs that your buddy has contracted a UTI are 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.
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’s diet and help your Cavy absorb all the goodness from their fiber-rich diet. The other less nutritious hard shiny poop is not eaten.