What Food Should I Feed My Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs spend most of their time eating grass. They also like specific types of green leaves and dry grass. That’s because their teeth are ideal for munching and grinding different types of plants and grasses. Speaking of teeth, it is important to note that guinea pigs do not ever stop growing.
That explains why apart from their diet, you have to budget for guinea pig chew toys. The toys, which should be made of wood, are perfect for grinding and ensuring your guinea pig does not grow to a level where they find it hard to feed. Read on to learn what you should feed your guinea pig with and how you should go about it.
List Of Guinea Pig Food
It goes almost without saying that for all animals, health and wellness directly depend on what they eat. The same case applies to a guinea pig. They like dry grass, hay to be specific. Feeding them with hay alone 24/7 is however, not a good idea. Like humans, they need balanced diet meals to stay healthy and strong. That is where pellets and even fruits come into the picture.
Another important and interesting thing to note about guinea pigs is the fact that unlike other animals, they cannot synthesize their own vitamin C. This means you have to provide them with this vital nutrient.
I wrote more on Vitamin C For Guinea Pig here.
This shouldn’t be difficult because most raw fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C. Keep in mind though that guinea pigs are pretty fussy in nature. For vitamin C, feed them with the following fruits and vegetables.
Do not forget that as much as guinea pigs are pets, they are also herbivores. This means their diet should be strictly based on high quality pelleted guinea pig food, guinea pig hay and limited amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables every single day.
Even the slightest imbalance in nutrition can easily cause obesity and chronic diarrhea to guinea pigs. You can negatively impact the liver and kidneys of your guinea pig with a sudden nutritional imbalance. To avoid hurting your pet, introduce new foods to it gradually.
What Is The Best Food For A Guinea Pig?
Grass and hay stand out as the most ideal food for your guinea pigs. As a matter of fact, they are the best. Not all types of grass and hay are good for guinea pigs though. To ensure you do not go wrong when choosing grass and hay for your cavies, stick to the following options.
Pay particular attention to the type of grass and hay you buy for your guinea pigs. You will note that your guinea pig’s taste and food preferences change as they continue to grow. That is why we always recommend diet rotation for guinea pigs. For grass and hay, stick to the following options:
Alfafa hay – It is a high fiber legume hay that is ideal for growing guinea pigs. It has the exact same long strand fiber found in grass hays. What set’s alfafa hay apart from grass hay though is the fact that it has more calcium, more energy and more proteins. Generally, alfafa hay has 120% more energy than its immediate alternative, oat hay.
Timothy hay – It has just 10% protein. However, it is the best type of hay for guinea pigs. That is because other than protein, Timothy hay is rich in zinc and copper. It is also a good source of energy.
Orchard grass – Orchard grass is a perennial, flat leaf bladed grass. It grows tall during cool seasons and then cut and rolled into hay. It is low in fiber but very rich in protein. Its leaves vary from bluish green to leafy green depending on maturity.
Oat hay – Oat hay is just as ideal for guinea pigs as Timothy hay. To ensure it reaches its nutrient potential, the cutting of oat hay needs to occur at the right time. This is usually when the oat seed is out of the milk stage. The seeds must also be in the dough stage for oat hay to be low in protein and high in fiber.
Note that while alfafa is ideal for guinea pigs, it is also rich in fat content. That is why it is ideal for growing guinea pigs. Once fully grown, Timothy and oat hay stand out as the best feeds for your guinea pig alongside the fruits and vegetables already mentioned.
I wrote more on Guinea Pig Hay here.
How Much Food to Give and Feeding Frequency
Guinea pigs love to eat. In fact, they live to eat. Strangely though, most guinea pig owners focus on what to feed their guinea pigs with, forgetting what not to feed their guinea pigs with. While this is not a bad thing entirely, it makes it hard for a guinea pig owner to know what is wrong with his or her guinea pig once it has ingested something it shouldn’t.
Feed your cavies consistently. This should be twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. You may not notice it at first but guinea pigs can overeat if given a chance. So to prevent obesity, get rid of any pelleted food that your guinea pig leaves untouched after 2 hours.
For fresh fruits, get rid of anything the guinea pigs leave untouched for one hour. This will make it easy for you to know what your guinea pigs like and what they do not. Then do not add new food including grass and hay before cleaning out bits and traces of old food.
Water is also an essential element of guinea pig food. Give fresh, filtered and chlorine free water to your guinea pigs. Remember that guinea pigs drink more water during warmer seasons than they do during colder ones.
Get a good guinea pig water bottle preferably one made of glass. Make sure that you keep it fully topped up with water. Water intake should be at least five ounces daily. This will go a long way to keep your cavies hydrated as they are susceptible to heat strokes.
Note that a guinea pigs voracious appetite is the first sign that it is happy and healthy. Note too that guinea pigs remain healthy when they keep to the same diet. Even the slightest change of diet can easily alter their eating habits and general health. It is for this reason that you must stick to the same diet your guinea pigs vet recommends.
Guinea Pig Nutritional Requirements
When it comes to guinea pig nutritional requirements, everything boils down to balancing the main nutrients a guinea pig needs. This means you first need to know what it is good for your guinea pig. Then as any vet doctor will advise you, keep everything in moderation.
Protein and Fiber
The main part of your guinea pig’s diet should constitute protein and fiber, with fiber making up the most of the cavy’s intake. This should not worry you at all since fiber is easy to find. You can easily find it in pellet good.
It is also abundant in Timothy hay and oak grass. Whichever grass or hay you choose for your guinea pig, always remember that your pet’s diet should always be higher in fiber content than protein and low in carbs, rich fats and sugar.
Unlike other rodents, guinea pigs can tolerate fats. However, fats should only constitute 3 to 5% of your cavy’s daily intake. Excess fat converts to glucose very easily. This will then upset and interfere with the delicately balanced flora of the guinea pig stomach.
With that in mind, make sure the pellet food you buy for your cavy has approximately 1 to 2 % fat included in the main ingredients.
This may sound strange but guinea pigs require magnesium, calcium and phosphorus like humans do. All these minerals should be included in your choice of dried guinea pig nugget. Note too that you can easily find these in certain fresh vegetables and fruits specifically recommended for guinea pigs.
You will find the most ideal ones listed above, with celery and spinach standing out as the most preferred ones by vets.
Calcium is a good for guinea pigs because it makes their teeth and bones strong. As already mentioned, guinea pigs teeth never stop growing. This means they need strong teeth for grinding and feeding. Only calcium can provide this need. However, it is important to note that excess calcium can lead to the formation of bladder stones.
To find out if your guinea pig has more calcium than it needs, observe its urine. If you notice white deposits excreted in your cavy’s urine, your guinea pig is suffering from excess calcium intake.
You’ll have to check the ingredients of the nuggets and pellets you are feeding your guinea pig with. The best solution here is to simply replace the cavy’s grass hay with a brand that is not extremely rich in calcium.
It is also an essential nutrient just like calcium and magnesium. However, you should provide it to your guinea pig in the ratio of 1:1.5 each time you combine it with calcium. Stick to this ratio by all means because a deviation from this ratio can cause urinary and digestive problems.
Guinea pigs cannot produce this essential vitamin on their own. Your best bet here is to make sure you feed your guinea pigs with fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C. There aren’t so many of them that your cavy may like, so stick to a few slices of apple three to four times each week. If this does not work, look for a vitamin C supplement safe for guinea pigs.
I wrote more on: Top 5 List Of Best Guinea Pig Healthiest Food here.
This might be a good choice for those who want the All-in-One food option.