If you have a pet guinea pig, then we are sure you want them to live a long and healthy life. Part of this is ensuring that they eat the right food. On this page, we want to take a look at what a guinea pig diet should consist of.
We will cover everything about hay, treats, and the standard food that they should be eating on a daily basis.
Guinea Pig Diet Chart
|Guinea Pig Food||Daily Needs|
|Hay||70 – 80 %|
|Fruits, Treats||max 5 %|
Hay – A Staple In The Guinea Pigs Diet
Guinea pigs are grazing animals. This means that hay should be a staple in the guinea pigs diet. You could also throw in some fresh grass, although do make sure that if you give the animal fresh grass, it hasn’t had any sort of herbicide applied to it.
This is dangerous for the guinea pig, and it could end up killing them.
If the guinea pig doesn’t have access to fresh hay, then their digestive systems will start to shut down. This means that they will be unable to digest any of the other food that you give them. If you give them dry hay, then it should last in their cage for a good while.
Although, you will still want to change it out at least once a week, just to ensure that they have access to a steady supply of it. It will also ensure that the hay does not start to accumulate bacteria which, again, could end up with your animal getting sick.
In addition to this, the hay will help with the growth of your guinea pig’s teeth. Those teeth are never going to stop growing, and the hay will help to keep it to the minimum, mostly due to the fiber content.
This is not something that fresh grass can provide quite as much, which is why it needs to be hay (mostly), with a dash of fresh grass thrown in for good measure.
In terms of what hay you should buy, you should try to avoid alfalfa hay, unless you have a guinea pig that is under 8-months old. The calcium content of this type of hay is far too high for the guinea pig’s diet, and it could cause them to become sick. Obviously, a growing guinea pig does need more calcium, which is why you can feed them this type of hay.
Hay you should consider: Long strand grass hay (timothy, orchard, blue, meadow, brome).
For the most part, if you follow the rest of the information on this page about the guinea pig diet, then your animal will not need to have access to any pellets.
They are going to get all of the nutrients from the fruits and vegetables that you are feeding them. That being said, some vets will recommend that you supplement the guinea pig’s diet with a few pellets here and there.
It shouldn’t really be the main focus of the diet. It isn’t healthy, and your animal will get bored with the food.
We do want to stress that it should be pellets that are actual pellets. Not the food mixes with little bits of dry fruits in. These do not do well for animals, and they are often not nutritionally balanced.
If you must buy pellets for your guinea pig, then opt for pellets that are formulated especially for guinea pigs. Not rabbits. Rabbit food is not the same as guinea pig food, despite what some people may think!
You should (mostly) be feeding your guinea pig a diet of fresh vegetables. This is because the guinea pig will need vitamin C.
It can’t make it on its own. This means that it needs vitamin C added to its diet. Yes. It is going to come from the pellets, but it is going to be a whole lot easier for your guinea pig to digest if they get it from fresh vegetables.
It should be a mix of vegetables too, with maybe a few fruits thrown in for good measure. Cut it up into chunks so your animal is able to eat it a lot better.
Any leafy green that is safe for a human to eat is safe for a guinea pig as well.
With that in mind, you will find a compilation of food to keep your furry friend happy and healthy
Some options to consider include:
- Green Peppers
- Beet Greens
- Cucumber leaves
- Carrot tops
- Small pieces of tomato (not too much!)
- Carrots (not too much!)
You should keep treats to the absolute minimum in the guinea pig diet. It should be about 10% of their diet at the absolute maximum.
This is because treats are ridiculously high in sugar, and they are not going to provide any sort of nutrition for your guinea pig. Obviously, they are going to be loving the treats, but you should barely give them any.
We aren’t just talking about the commercially available treats here. We are also talking about certain fruits. Some fruit will give your pet a bit of nutrition but, even then, you should keep it to the minimum.
Fruit – A small amount as part of Guinea Pigs Diet
Guinea pigs are known to be extremely fond of fruits. However, it should be kept in mind that they have sensitive digestive system. In fact, you should barely give your pet any fruit. This is because it will rot their teeth.
Due to the high sugar concentration in most of the fruits, a bacterial dis-balance can occur within their digestive system. Moreover it may also cause a guinea pig’s desire to eat only fruits, not its normal, healthy food.
The fruit can serve as a dessert, but It should be given in small quantities (once or twice a week)
What fruits are safe for guinea pigs to eat? Some options to consider include:
- Apple (without stem and seeds)
- Cherries (any variety, without the pits)
- Plum (without the pits)
- Strawberries (any type of berries)
- Berries (uncooked)
- Pineapple (remove skin)
- Banana (remove peel; no more than about 2 1/8 inch slices a day)
- Melons (any – can include peel and seeds)
- Star Fruit
It should probably go without saying that your animal should always have access to freshwater. This means that the water needs to be changed each day, no matter how much your guinea pig has consumed it.
If you are not changing it every day, then the water will become stale. This will provide a breeding ground for bacteria which, ultimately, will cause your animal to become sick.
Foods Guinea Pigs Can’t Eat
There are some foods that are bad for guinea pigs and should not be part of any guinea pig’s diet:
- Chocolate (this is poison for the pigs)
- Most ‘human’ treats
- Breakfast Cereal
But for the most part, your animal is going to munch down on any fresh fruits and vegetables that you give them. Keep a regular source flowing into their cage, and they should be healthy!
See also: Guinea Pigs Care Guide.