The diet of guinea pigs consists of four main groups. Water is the first, and although it seems obvious, it is important to remember that they always need fresh, clean water. The other three categories are hay, pellets, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Vitamin C is also an important part of a guinea pig’s diet, as they cannot make it on their own: it needs to be provided for them.
Hay- Hay is the cornerstone to a healthy guinea pig. Guinea pigs need a constant supply of fresh, green, unsoiled hay. Hay must be provided at all times to keep your piggie’s digestive tract moving and healthy. The fibers in hay also help to grind down their teeth, mostly their molars, which also constantly grow. Timothy hay and orchard grass are two of the best options for all guinea pigs. Alfalfa hay should be given to young guinea pigs under six months of age, along with pregnant and nursing sows in addition to timothy or orchard grass. Alfalfa hay is higher in protein and calcium which is essential to help young guinea pigs grow up healthy and strong, however, for older guinea pigs, an excess of protein can lead to weight issues and too much calcium can cause bladder stones.
Pellets- Pellets are another important part of a guinea pig's’ diet, although some people do not think they are necessary if they are provided enough variety of vegetables. Although this may be true if their vegetable diet is carefully constructed and balanced, in my personal opinion, along with the opinions of many guinea pig owners, pellets are essential. Oxbow brand pellets are among the most popular and highly recommended pellets by guinea pig owners because of their balanced nutrition and simple pellet form. Pellets mixed with nuts, seeds, or other colorful bits can be unhealthy or even dangerous for guinea pigs and they may not eat the plain (yet healthy) pieces. The pellets you choose should be timothy-based. Guinea pigs under six months of age and pregnant or nursing mothers should receive pellets specifically formulated for growing pigs; they usually contain alfalfa hay. An 1/8 cup of pellets is usually sufficient for most guinea pigs, as too many pellets can lead to excess weight gain.
Vegetables and Fruit- A variety of fresh vegetables and fruits is also very important for a healthy and happy guinea pig. About one cup of fresh veggies should be given daily to each guinea pig. Green leafy vegetables should be the staple of the produce you feed your pig. Fruit should only be given as a treat due to the high sugar content. Citrus fruits such as oranges may seem like a good idea to feed often because of their high vitamin C content, however too much citrus may cause issues to their digestive tract. Below I have provided a chart listing some of the most common vegetables and fruit that one might consider feeding to their pig. It is best to provide a wide variety of different vegetables and fruit to provide the most balanced diet possible.
Vitamin C- Guinea pigs cannot synthesize their own vitamin C (just like humans) and therefore needs to be provided in their diet. There is some controversy on whether or not store bought vitamin C drops or tabs are effective, so it is best to provide most if not all of the needed amount of vitamin C through fresh fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that healthy adult guinea pigs receive 30-50 mg of vitamin C daily. This amount may vary or increase for sick, pregnant, or other guinea pigs with different health needs.
*Contains oxalic acid which may contribute to the formation of bladder stones.
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HappyCavy. “Vegetables and Fruits Safe for Guinea Pigs To Eat – The Happy Cavy ‘Snack’ List.” HappyCavy, 17 Sept. 2017, www.happycavy.com/what-can-guinea-pigs-eat/.
“SCURVY :: VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY.” Guinea Lynx, www.guinealynx.info/scurvy.html.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Anything expressed in these posts is my own personal opinion and is not to be taken as medical advice.