Guinea pigs require a herbivorous diet, which means that their food should include fruits, hay, vegetables, and pellets. The animals, unlike most mammals, cannot make Vitamin C, and it is thus vital to provide supplementation for the element so that they do not develop scurvy.
Another thing to remember when rearing guinea pigs is that they develop dietary preferences at a tender age. When adopting one, ensure you know what they were feeding on because sudden changes will lead to the animal’s refusal to feed. Some of the foods to supply your guinea pig include:
Fruits, Greens, Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should be given to guinea pigs in moderation. You can provide around 1/3 cup of fruits per day and 3/4 for vegetables. The key to proper nutrition for the animals is variety since it offers different types of nutrients.
Look for produce with plenty of Vitamin C like leafy green lettuce, kiwis, and parsley. Bell peppers are also commonly given to guinea pigs, as are strawberries. Other popular types of foods for guinea pigs include watermelons, carrots, zucchini, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, and cucumbers.
You should provide a continuous supply of grass or grass hay for your guinea pig. Common dry foods given to the animals include barley, oaten, and timothy hay. Invest in high-quality hay that is dry and free of mildew and mold.
It is best to avail the hay all the time to ensure that your pet is continuously chewing. The teeth of the pigs are continually growing, which is why it is vital to wear them out to limit the growth. The chewing action also promotes your pet’s dental and gastrointestinal health. Ensure that the hay is not kept on the floor of the cage for too long since it can get contaminated by the animal’s waste.
You should also be careful when choosing the kind of hay to give your guinea pig. Alfalfa hay, for example, has high levels of calcium that can result in stones forming in your pet. The stones are not only stressful, but they need surgery to remove them. You can give small amounts of the hay to young pups and pregnant and nursing mothers who require additional calcium.
Pellets provide the necessary minerals and vitamins for your guinea pig. It is recommended to give them 1/8cup of pellets daily to keep obesity at bay. It is particularly easy for the animals to get overweight, so avoid pellets that are largely packed with fats.
When choosing pellets, opt for varieties from reputable brands. They should be formulated with antioxidants, fiber, probiotics, and vitamins. Look out for pellets with Vitamin C since it is essential for the health of guinea pigs.
Avoid pellets with artificial colors, preservatives, or additives. Cheap products may taste and look good, but they will not be nutritious for your pet. Be wary of fruit bits and nuts and seeds since the animals cannot digest the rich ingredients in them.
You should ensure that your guinea pig has access to fresh and clean water at all times. The animals can drink between 50 ml to 300 ml daily, although it varies from pet to pet. Guinea pigs will also be fine consuming filtered tap water, and as long as the water is safe for you, then it is good for them.
The water should be at room temperature since guinea pigs are known to refuse warm water. While some pet owners will add vitamin supplements to the water, keep in mind that the animals will refuse bad-tasting water.
There are different ways to offer water to guinea pigs. Bowls seem to be the easiest, especially when they are young. Ensure the bowl cannot be tipped over by using heavy ceramic types. The water in bowls, however, gets easily contaminated, which is not good for guinea pigs. You can use sippy or drink bottles depending on the needs of your pet.
Food You Should Avoid Feeding to Guinea Pigs
Being herbivorous, guinea pigs cannot digest meat or dairy products. Giving them these elements will make your pet gravely ill. Other foods to avoid giving guinea pigs include:
- Iceberg lettuce: In addition to having zero nutritional value, iceberg lettuce has a high -water content that is bad for the digestive systems of guinea pigs
- Salt licks: It will cause mineral buildup and result in bladder stones
- Chocolate and candy
- Gassy vegetables that cause bloat like cabbage and cauliflower
- Nuts and avocados because of the extra fat
- Grass with pesticides should also be avoided
- Garlic is poisonous for guinea pigs
How to Feed Your Guinea Pigs?
It is advisable to feed guinea pigs with ceramic dishes that will not get damaged or chewed-on. The food should be fresh, and if they do not eat it during the day, remove it to avoid creating a mess inside their cage. You can also let the pet graze in a lawn free of chemicals and pesticides.
How Much Should Guinea Pigs Eat?
Pet owners mostly observe the guideline of one cup of vegetables per day for every guinea pig. You should give your pet around 1/8 cup of pellets daily. Fruits are regarded as a treat and should, therefore, be provided sparingly. Too many fruits can cause sores to develop around your pet’s mouth. Hay and water should be provided abundantly.
How to Introduce New Food to Your Guinea Pigs?
The digestive system of guinea pigs is easily upset, which is why great take care should be taken when changing the diet of your pet. Introduce new meals slowly and begin with small pieces. If they respond well to it, add another amount during the next serving and include it gradually after that.
Why do Guinea Pigs Need to Graze on Grass?
The digestive tracts of guinea pigs are adapted to processing forage, and it is therefore right for your pet to consume fresh grass. The grass should be free of contaminants like herbicides and waste from other pets. You should also deworm your pet regularly in case the grass harbors parasite eggs.
Do Guinea Pigs Need Salt?
It is recommended to skip salt licks when it comes to guinea pigs. The animals only need a small amount of sodium that is easily derived from pellets.
Guinea pigs need a herbivorous diet to be healthy, which you should sustain with hay, vegetables, and fruits. The animals also require a lot of Vitamin C in addition to minerals and other nutrients. You should also give fresh water to your pets.