Being a newbie in the world of caring for guinea pigs, one of your concerns is what kind is safe and what’s not safe for your new small pet. In this article, you will know what can guinea pigs eat daily, the amount of food to be given, and if treats are okay for them to enjoy.
We will also share with you the best guinea pig food that you can buy for your cute pets.
What Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Not because you love your pet too much means that you can share your food with them. While there may be some human foods that are safe for guinea pigs to consume, feeding your guinea pigs should involve extra care and planning. You do not just give to them your leftover food.
Basically, your guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning, they are vegetarians. This means that your cute, little fellows only eat fruits and veggies. There are two things though that you have to keep in mind when choosing the best guinea pig food and these are:
Vitamin C: Your small pets cannot manufacture their vitamin C which makes them susceptible to scurvy. In case you are not familiar with scurvy, it is a deficiency in C vitamin, which, unfortunately, can be disastrous to your guinea pigs’ health. So, take the time to read the label and be sure to look for the magic word-C vitamin! Your guinea pigs need an average of 10 to 30 mg.
It is not necessary to buy vitamin C supplements for as long as you feed them correctly.
Fiber: Are you amused by the constant growth of your pets’ teeth? That is one of the reasons why you have to give them something fibrous to munch on like guinea pig hay.
Here’s the Good Stuff for Your Cute, Little Pet
This is the best guinea pig food and we suggest that it should always be available. They need this for their daily supply of fiber and their dental health, as well.
Fiber is for their digestive health. The right amount of this prevents soft stools, reduces bloating, and prevents getting overweight. Fiber also has something to do with their urinary system. This is how magical fiber is to their overall health.
As we have mentioned earlier, your pets’ teeth keep on growing even at adulthood. Think of hay as their teether. The grinding rhythm of chewing hay causes their teeth not to overgrow so they won’t feel any dental pain.
Your guinea pigs love to eat hay every single day. Hay comes in two forms-Timothy hay and alfalfa hay. But, between the two, it is the Timothy hay that is considered as the best guinea pig food. Alfalfa is rich in calcium, that being said, it is not recommended for adult guinea pigs unless you wish to give it as a treat or your pig is less than 6 months of age.
You might be asking how much hay can your pet eat in a day? Cavies must have daily access to an unlimited supply of hay. Since there are different kinds of hay, there is really no direct answer when it comes to quantity. Babies, adolescents, adults, and seniors have different dietary needs but on average, your cavies diet must consist of 80% of hay, roughly three ounces each day or six pounds of hay every month for your small pets.
Since hay is their all-time fave food, you might have to replenish it 3 to 5 times a day.
Of course, you do not want to bore your guinea pigs with just hay. You want them to enjoy life by eating good chow like veggies which should be 8% of their total diet. A simple way to compute this is by giving a 1/2 cup of greenies per one pound of body weight each day.
Here’s a list of the greenies that will make your pet healthy and happy:
- Romaine lettuce
- Turnip greens
- Mint leaves
- Basil leaves
- Bell peppers
Overall, these vegetables are good sources of vitamins A, B, C, and K, potassium, fiber, and other trace minerals.
But, there is no such thing as one size fits all. For example, if your guinea pig is diagnosed with bladder stones, be easy on veggies that are high in oxalic acid like spinach and dill.
In the same way that broccoli and cabbage, when consumed in a huge proportion may lead to tummy discomforts.
Sweet tasting veggies like carrots and parsnips are higher in calories and carbs so these are the best treats for them.
We completely understand that you want your cavies to taste different flavors and textures, this is why we recommend that you alternate your pigs’ veggie smorgasbord. They can be given vegetables every day but in moderation only.
3. Guinea Pig Pellets
You can give pellets but these must be used as supplements only, meaning give pellets 1/8 cup each day only. We recommend that you choose the plain pellets rather than the mixed ones as these will only prevent your guinea pigs from eating the tastier bits and ignore the healthier ones that are made from hay.
If you are not sure how to choose high-quality pellets, the label should include pellets with vitamin C and those that are made from Timothy hay rather than alfalfa hay. We are not implying that alfalfa hay is not good, it is but only for those pigs who are pregnant and for pigs under one-year-old.
Same as hay, water should be available all the time. A limited supply of clean water can result in health problems.
What Are the Best Guinea Pig Treats?
Your pets will love you even more if you will treat them with something yummier. Treats do not have to be unhealthy. Fruits are the best treats that are enjoyable for your guinea pigs. In other words, you can share your fruit dessert with your guinea pigs but in little amount only.
Your cavies can get a good amount of extra nutrition from fresh fruits like banana, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe. They would definitely love the juiciness, flavor, and texture. Fruits are like sweet candies for guinea pigs!
Don’t get overzealous though. Since fruits are high in sugar, give these sparingly like two to three times a week only. If you give too many fruits, your guinea pigs will get overweight and can lead to health problems.
To give you an idea regarding proportion, a matchbox-sized of fruit is good enough.
Legume or alfalfa hay are also given as treats for non-pregnant cavies.
What are the Kinds of Human Food to Avoid for Guinea Pigs?
1. For Veggies:
- Iceberg lettuce contains toxins that can lead to tummy upset. This type of lettuce is also watery and has no nutritional value at all.
- Potatoes are starchy and can be quite hard to digest by your cavies resulting in tummy pain.
- Rhubarb can also make your cavies suffer from gastrointestinal issues.
2. For Fruits:
- Citrusy fruits like lemon and orange
- Commercial treats for guinea pigs
Additionally, anything that you do not want to eat like wilted veggies or rotten fruits should not be served to your guinea pigs. And, since they are health-buff, they only prefer to eat freshies with the exception of meat and dairy products.
What is a Balanced Nutrition for your Guinea Pigs?
1. There Are Three Factors to Remember:
- Good quality of hay for digestion and tooth abrasion. Always remember that hay should be available 24/7 for 365 days a year!
- Fruits and vegetables for vitamin C
- Fresh and continuous supply of water
2. Other Tips on How to Feed Your Guinea Pigs:
- Always give your pets fresh foods. If they have some leftovers, do not save these for the next day. Guinea pigs are fussy eaters. They are not attracted to foods that are not fresh. If you see them not touching their food, it is most likely that they will snub these the entire day so you might as well give them a new batch. Such a diva attitude, indeed.
- If you see them gain or lose weight, make adjustments in the amount of food that you serve. Factors like age, lifestyle, and health affect their appetites. This means that the amount of food you serve them does not remain constant throughout their lives.
Nutrition plays a major role in the overall health of your guinea pigs. By feeding them correctly, you can be sure that they will live longer happily. The question of what can guinea pigs eat daily, always keep in mind that these cute guys are herbivores and hay is one of the foods that they have to munch on every day.
Remember too that they tend to be picky eaters, so the freshness of the food and water is something that they demand from you.