In order to feed your guinea pig a proper diet that will keep them functioning and healthy well into old age, you must know the right foods to give them.
Their diet consists of four primary food groups, hay, fruits, vegetables, and pellets, as well as other miscellaneous foods.
The Proper Diet of a Guinea Pig
A guinea pig needs three essential components to have a well-rounded diet.
First, off they need to eat a lot of hay. A guinea pig’s diet consists of 80% hay. The guinea pig’s body and digestive system were designed to consume a lot of fibrous material, so they need to eat a lot of hay. Many owners keep a brick of hay inside their cage so they can gnaw it all day. Chewing this much fiber also keeps their teeth clean and sharp as well.
The other 15% of their diet consists of vegetables and fruits.
When it comes to vegetables, the serving size depends on the type of vegetable it is. You can give you guinea pigs a whole cup for a serving if it is a low-sugar leafy green vegetable or food like cucumber or zucchini. If it is a high sugar vegetable, like corn or sweet potato, you should only give them two to three tablespoons. The same rule applies to fruit, but it is even stricter.
For fruit, you should not give them more than two servings of fruit per week, and each of those servings must be around two to three tablespoons. Guinea pigs cannot eat a lot of sugar because they will develop insulin resistance and gain weight.
Lastly, the last 5% of their diet consists of pellets. It is within the pellets that they get their fats and their amino acids. They do not need a lot of fat in their diet, so it is important to only feed them one to two tablespoons of pellets every day.
The Vegetables That Guinea Pigs Can Eat
The vegetables that they can eat are parsley, broccoli, tomato, celery, spinach, kohlrabi, cucumber, carrot, kale, dandelion greens, parsnip,
red, green, and yellow bell peppers, summer squash, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cilantro, bok choy, arugula, Romaine lettuce, red lettuce, turnip greens, radicchio, watercress, sweet potato, tomato, corn, turnips, asparagus, and beetroot.
The Fruits That Guinea Pigs Can Eat
The fruits they can eat are watermelon, kiwi, banana, pineapple, strawberry, apricot, pear, papaya, mango, plum, rosehip, Apple, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, and cantaloupe.
Other Foods They Can Eat
Guinea pigs can also eat a lot of herbs and leaves. So, they can eat coriander, parsley, oregano, daisy, thyme, celery leaves, strawberry leaves, grape leaves, cherry leaves, walnut leaves, and bamboo leaves.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals They Need
The two most important vitamins guinea pigs need in their diet are vitamin C and calcium.
Guinea pigs cannot create vitamin C within their body, so they need to get it directly from their diet. This is one of the reasons why fruit and vegetables are so important. Because they cannot make it in their own body, guinea pigs are very likely to develop scurvy if they don’t receive enough vitamin C for a couple of weeks. Some veterinarians go as far as telling guinea pig owners to put vitamin C tablets in their water.
Calcium is an essential mineral that guinea pigs need, especially when they are growing. Calcium helps the formation of their bones and bone structure, as well as their teeth and nails. Even when the pups become adults, they will still need some calcium in their diet to keep up their bone and teeth health.
What to Watch Out For
Guinea pigs are very susceptible to pesticides that grow on crops, vegetables, fruit, and they’re hey. No matter what you are feeding your guinea pigs, it would be best if you washed all of the fruits and vegetables that you plan to serve them. Guinea pigs can quickly become sick if they ingest too many pesticides from their foods.
You cannot wash the hay. If you try to, then it will become soggy, and it will be utterly ruined. So you must be sure to find a high-quality hay brand that minimizes its use of pesticides as it grows the hay. One popular and healthy hay brand is called Timothy hay. It is known for using low amounts of pesticides and more natural pesticides. It is also low calcium hay, which is good because grown adult guinea pigs do not need as much calcium as they did when they were young.
2. Serving Sizes
Every single food besides hay has a serving size. From the vegetables to the fruits to the pellets, there is no one serving size for all items. When you give your guinea pig its daily serving of veggies, you must look up each vegetable and see the correct serving size. Giving them too much of a food can at best cause gas and watery stools, and at worst, could cause them to become sick with an overdose of a vitamin or chemical.
3. Choking Hazard
Guinea pigs love to eat. One of the reasons why serving sizes are so important is because guinea pigs will keep eating until all the food is gone. If you are serving your guinea pig a large food item like a strawberry or a chunk of zucchini, please chop it up into bite-size pieces. If you do not, they are far more likely to choke.
Foods That Are Poisonous
Here, we will add a section to list some of the many foods that guinea pigs should absolutely not eat whatsoever. These foods are poisonous to all guinea pigs and can cause them extreme intestinal distress like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, lower abdominal pain, and many other issues. They are:
- tomato leaves
- All dairy,
- iceberg lettuce,
- all meats and seafood
- All nuts
- All seeds
- There are many vegetables, fruits, and greens that guinea pigs can eat
- But there are many that they cannot
- Guinea pigs should not eat a high-fat diet
- Hay and vitamin C are essential parts of their diet
- Pellets provide the fat in their diet
- Guinea pigs are mindless eaters.