Important Question: What can you feed your pet guinea pig?
A proper guinea pig diet will nourish its skin, fur, teeth, energy, and internal health.
Experts suggest a diet high in commercially pelleted food as well as a endless supply of correct hay.
Your guinea pig will also love fresh fruits and vegetables; just be judicious about handing out fruits as most are high in sugar.
Where to Start?
When you first bring a guinea pig into your home, he’ll be cautious about warming up to you in the first twenty-four hours.
One of the best ways to make friends with him is to offer a strawberry or a bit of fresh wheat grass.
You can’t go wrong with home grown wheat grass to win your pigs love!
If you offer your pet something that he hasn’t seen before in his limited guinea pig diet, it’s possible he won’t eat it.
Break off little tiny pieces to tempt him. Some guinea pigs are suspicious about any food, and others don’t recognise an unfamiliar food as something edible.
Many of them will eat a new food if they see another guinea pig enjoying it. And they have their own individual likes and dislikes.
Experts suggest that the first component of a guinea pig diet includes high quality pellets made for guinea pigs, fortified with vitamin C.
What to Avoid
You should totally avoid products that include beets, corn, syrup, bone meal, eggs, animal fat, dairy, seeds, nuts, or oils.
Most pellets are made from alfalfa and the problem with this is its high calcium content.
This is OK for guinea pigs that are still growing and up to 6 months old or so, but after this time a diet high in calcium can produce unwanted side effects such as bladder stones.
Timothy hay is used in some pellet brands, it contains less calcium so it should be used for guinea pigs that are 6 months and older.
Essential – Have a 24/7 Hay Supply
Hay is something you should make available to your guinea pig all day long, every day. It’s a staple in a guinea pig diet.
It keeps his teeth correctly ground, and he needs the fiber for proper digestion.
You can buy packaged hay at the store, or you can look for bales of hay that will be more economical and provide a fresher product. Check out your local farms or ask at any area horse stables. A bale of hay can last you many months, and it will not lose its nutritional value over a long period of time.
Choose leafy hay rather than all stems.
Timothy hay is the most common in the average guinea pig diet, but look for bluegrass and other soft, pliable types. In Australia, Oaten hay is the best alternative to Timothy (Which is unavailable)
Forage is wonderful for your pet-as long as it’s grown in a non-treated field.
Wash it before you give it to your guinea pig. Fresh grass provides natural vitamin C.
They love dandelion greens, but it is high in Calcium so provide as a treat.
How Much Vegetables?
Expect him to eat one half of a cup of vegies per day.
Every cavy loves a bit of fresh fruit and vegetables-and proper guinea pig diet contains no more than just that bit.
Leafy vegetables are a favourite, but avoid iceberg lettuce. Its nutritional value is minimal, it can cause diarrhea and it’s calcium content is high. If you feed your pet celery, chop it into tiny pieces because of the strings.
He can eat tiny broccoli leaves, but cruciferous vegetables and cabbages are not ideal in high quantities-he’ll get gas!
Green, Red & yellow peppers (Capsicums), up to one-quarter chopped, is a favorite. A baby carrot is okay every other day.
You can give him a couple of small pieces of fruit per day.
He’ll love a thin apple wedge as long as it contains no seeds (Which are poisonous).
Use a quarter-inch round of banana, a 1×2 inch wedge of cantaloupe-wash the rind!-or one slice of orange.
He can have several blueberries, cherries or a couple of strawberries.
If you give him vitamins, never put them in his water.
He’ll avoid the water and become dehydrated.
What you want to feed your guinea pig to reduce future health issues are…
Vegetables & fruit that are low in sugar, high in vitamin C and low in Calcium!
Here is a list of Foods essential to a happy & healthy guinea pig…
Guinea Pig Food and Diet Guide
Daily 27/7 Feed
- Fresh Timothy Hay (For the US)
- Oaten Hay (For Australia)
- Fresh High Quality Guinea Pig Pellets – Low in Calcium (Keep in the refrigerator to keep longer)
We recommend high quality timothy hay based pellets by Oxbow
Morning and Night Feed
- Sweet Capsicum (Ball Peppers) – Red, Green & Yellow are fine.
- Celery & Leaves (Chopped into 1cm pieces to avoid choking on stringy sections)
- Cucumber (Low in Calcium)
- Lettuce & Leafy Greens (Avoid Iceberg Lettuce)
- Lettuces that are good – Romaine (Cos), Red Leaf & Green Leaf
- Safe Grasses & Weeds
- Tomato (High in Vitamin C)
- Lucerne or Alfalfa Hay (Read more on Wiki)
This type of hay is quite rich in calcium and should only be given as a treat for guinea pigs.
- Apple (High in sugar)
- Brocolli (High in Vitamin C but also high in Calcium)
- Cauliflower (White and Green parts – Too much causes gas)
- Coriander (Cilantro)
[67mg Calcium – 27mg Vitamin C]
- Cabbage (Too much causes bloating)
- Carrot (Occasional – Too much can cause liver problems)
- Corn (Only as Treat Once or Twice a Week)
- Corn Husks are OK (But recommend chopping into smaller pieces – chocking hazard)
- Corn White Stringy Silk (The best part!)
- Dandelion (High in in Calcium – Feed as Treat)
[187mg Calcium – 35mg Vitamin C]
- Grapes (High in Sugar)
- Green Beans (Chop into pieces, can be choking hazard)
- Kale (Very High in Calcium)
- Kiwi Fruit
- Lettuces – Endive (Escarole) & Swiss Chard (High in Calcium)
- Spinach (Only a little bit as this can cause kidney / bladder stones due to high calcium)
- Sweet Potato
- Watermelon (High in sugar)
DO NOT Feed
- Anything you are UNSURE ABOUT!
- Garlic (Or anything from Garlic Family)
- Iceberg Lettuce (High water content causes Diarrhea)
- Lawn Clippings (Causes bloat & may be poisoned by undesirable residues)
- Leeks (Garlic Family)
- Meat (Any sort)
- Milk & Dairy Products
- Muesli (Any sort of Human Breakfast Cereal)
- Mushrooms (Poisonous)
- Nuts (Too much fat)
- Onion (Poisonous)
- Poisonous Weeds
- Potato (Will cause Diarrhea)
- Rhubarb & it’s Leaves
- Seeds (Cause mouth & teeth problems + Choking Hazard)
- Tomato Stems or Leaves (Very Poisonous)
- Anything too Starchy
- Anything you are UNSURE ABOUT!
A heavy ceramic bowl about 10cm across and 3cm deep works well for a pellet bowl.
I have glued my bowl to the end of a paver brick so the guinea pigs don’t knock over the bowl.
The sipper tube bottles with a ball bearing are your best option. It’s a good idea to have two of these in each cage in case one falls off the edge of cage or malfunctions for whatever reason.
Just remember to clean these water bottles out with disinfectant every month or so to kill the build up germs then rinse thoroughly. A wire brush works well to clean these properly.
Water is not recommend to be supplied in a bowl as it can get soiled quickly with droppings and loose bedding.
Like Humans – Guinea Pigs do not produce their own Vitamin C and they need a good source daily.
This will avoid problems such as Scurvy (Which causes eye infections, pneumonia and hair loss).
Along with their fruit and veggies, you can grind up a 500mg Vitamin C tablet (Sugarless) and sprinkle about 1/10th of this (50mg) on their food daily.
Around 50mg is a healthy amount from a tablet per piggy.
However if they are sick you can increase this to 100mg’s.
I know that opinions vary as to exactly what to feed guinea pigs.
i.e. some fruit & veggies causes bloating etc, some has too much sugar etc.
Some people are lucky and haven’t had their guinea pigs affected by certain foods – some have been unlucky.
It’s best to be preventative than try and fix a medical problem that has occurred from incorrect diet.
You’ll be a Winner if you feed your pigs the right food!
So Tell Us Your Experience
As the question is asked quite a bit we want to create a definitive guide for what to feed guinea pigs.
So please leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments area below so we can build an accurate “Guinea Pig Food Guide”.
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Looking forward to your suggestions…