After reading this short guide, you can also check this post here for more info on the types of food for your guinea pig. And if you are looking to make your pet’s life more interesting, you should also get some guinea pig toys for it.
Guinea pigs are herbivore animals that always like to chew on things, and providing the right food to them is very important. Some pigs will eat all day long and it is up to you to choose what you want to give them – pellets, hay, vegetables or fruits. Here is the alimentation they need.
Enjoying a varied food consisting mainly of vegetation, in the wild guinea pigs like to chew on good hay. In captivity, most of their diet (roughly 75% of it) is made of hay. That is why they should always have it in their cage, and the higher the quality, the better.
In hay, the guinea pigs can find the essential fibers that they require. They need them in order to properly digest the food and process the nutrients. Hay is a necessity in order to keep their digestive tracts working. Additionally, hay is great in helping the guinea pigs to have good oral hygiene, as their teeth always grow.
Finding quality hay is sometimes difficult and to be sure you make the best choice, look for hay with pliable stalks and that is green. The hay should also be free of mold and you should avoid hay that is cut too small or if it’s too dusty. When you buy large amounts of hay, chances are only part of it is good. Additionally, it will spoil if it sits around for too much, so it’s best to buy small amounts.
Although less important than a constant supply of hay, pellets are a good source of nutrients and vitamins for your pet. But you have to make sure they are made for guinea pigs, otherwise, there can be bad consequences.
Each day your guinea pig should have ¼ to a ⅛ cup of plain pellets, and not those that are made of corn. Pellets are good for offering your pet the nutrients that it can’t get from hay. This is especially the case with pellets that are fortified with Vitamin C, which the guinea pigs need.
Consisting of high-quality ingredients, these pellets should be put in a ceramic bowl, or somewhere where the pigs can’t tip them over. There are different kinds of pellet foods – alfalfa based or timothy based.
Alfalfa pellets are the majority that can be found on the market and they are better for younger pigs. That is because they provide more calcium. Timothy based pellets are the better alternative for older guinea pigs. Regardless of this, you should always look for plain pellets and keep your pets away from mixes that contain nuts, dried fruits or seeds.
These can all prove to be choking hazards and you don’t want that. Only buy the pellets in small quantities, as they spoil with time. Also, keep them in a dry and cool place, especially if they have more Vitamin C in them. This way you make sure all the nutrients are still there.
Certain ingredients should be avoided at all costs when buying pellets. Amongst these, seeds, nuts and oils contain too much fat and protein and because they are not something that the pigs eat in the wild, they shouldn’t be in pellets. The same applies to animal products, whether it’s fat, meat or eggs.
Because in the wild the guinea pigs have a diet that relies a lot on fresh veggies, fruits, and flowers, it’s important to offer them the same things as often as you can. Vegetables are a good way to give your pet Vitamin C if it isn’t getting enough of it from the pellets or if you choose to rely more on raw veggies than pellets.
As you might expect, guinea pigs don’t like eating the same thing every day, so varying the food is a good way of ensuring they eat everything and they get the right amount of nutrients. Vegetables that are hard are also good for the pig’s oral hygiene, as the guinea pig will clean its teeth chewing on harder stuff.
You can include vegetables in their meals every day. Although there are no certain rules, most people suggest putting between 3 and 5 types of vegetables in their bowl daily. It’s important to vary those vegetables as much as possible.
If you also want to give your guinea pig some fruits, you should only do that once or twice a week, because fruits contain large amounts of sugar, which is not good for the pig’s health, if eaten in large quantities. Guinea pigs that eat too many fruits also get fat faster and that can lead to health issues.
A rule of thumb when it comes to portions is to give your pet a matchbox-size meal. Of course, this depends on the health conditions of your pet, on its age and size.
Treats and what to avoid
You can find many kinds of treats being sold and they are marketed for guinea pigs and other small animals too. But, although they may sound interesting, they aren’t good for your pet’s health. They have too many artificial sweeteners, mostly fructose or sucrose, and that is why they are too high in calories, while their nutritional value is too low.
It’s thus better to avoid them altogether and not waste money on them. Instead, you can rely on the sugar that the fruits provide. The high-quality hay and pellets and the vegetables should fulfill the little rodent’s necessities.
If you want to make things more interesting for your pet, put some treats in its pellets or make eating a bit more challenging by stuffing the hay in a cardboard tube.
There are also some vegetables that you might be tempted to feed your guinea pig, but they are dangerous. Iceberg lettuce is one of them because it contains a toxin that causes an upset stomach in guinea pigs. Potatoes can also be poisonous, but they are also difficult to be broken down and digested. Rhubarb is also something that should be avoided for the same reasons.