What Do Guinea Pigs Like to Eat?

What Do Guinea Pigs Like to Eat?

Guinea pigs are strict herbivores, which means they require a plant-based only diet in order to stay happy and healthy. Fresh hay and fresh leafy vegetables should be the main bulk of their diet. They also spend a lot of time foraging so it is essential you provide constant access to fresh hay at all times.

In this blog post, I’ll explain the best foods to feed your guinea pig, what you should avoid feeding him, and how to introduce new foods into his diet.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, small and exotic pet vet, posing with a bunny patient

Dr. Bobby Ortiz, M.V.B.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, aka 'Dogtor Bob', is a small animal and exotic veterinarian based in Dublin. He has a strong interest in Small Mammal (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets) and Reptile medicine and surgery.

He grew up in a family of avid animal lovers, which led him to work as an Aquarist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in California. It was there he decided he wanted to become a vet, and specialise in exotic animals, that needed the same care and medical attention that dogs and cats are given.

He lives with his wife and Brittany Spaniel Bodhi, and has dreams to build a new tropical marine fish tank in the near future!

What to Feed your Guinea Pig

For your guinea pig to stay happy and healthy…

  • 90% of their diet should be hay. Hay is an important element of your pet’s diet. Hay provides fibre that will help with your guinea pig’s digestion, so ensure it is available at all times. A guinea pig’s teeth are continually growing, and chewing on hay helps ear them down as well as maintaining good dental health. A high-quality meadow hay like Timothy hay is a good choice.
  • 5% should be balanced guinea pig pellet. Choose pellets fortified with Vitamin C as guinea pigs are unable to formulate Vitamin C themselves.
  • 5% should consist of a variety of vegetables and leafy greens. Suitable foods to feed your guinea pig are broccoli, parsley, kale, cauliflower, red pepper, green pepper, and cooked brussels sprouts.
  • Fruits and treats can be offered rarely, such as guava, strawberry, kiwi, and papaya.

As mentioned above, guinea pigs cannot make their own Vitamin C so it is important to provide foods rich in Vitamin C such as vegetables. Even a slight deficiency can lead to compromised immune system. You can also add in Vitamin C syrup or tablets into their drinking water.

Portrait of cute red guinea pig eating parsley

Foods to Avoid

It is essential to also know what to avoid feeding guinea pigs, as there are many foods that may seem harmless, but can cause substantial health issues. Do not feed your guinea pigs the following foods: seeds; cereals; nuts; grains; corn, peas; dried beans, buttercups; garden shrubs (like hemlock or privet); lilies of any kind; sweet peas; nightshade; onions; oak; avocado; onion grass; potato tops; daffodils; mushrooms; foxglove; rhubarb leaves; and human foods such as sweets, biscuits, sugar, breakfast cereals, breads, crackers, dairy products, pasta, chocolate, or pickled foods.

Guinea pig drinks water from a drinking bowl.

Why Does My Guinea Pig Eat His Poop?

Guinea Pigs are caecotrophs, meaning they eat their faeces. This is completely normal and is a natural behaviour. They receive essential fibre and vitamins such as C, B and K from it, as well as optimised protein utilisation. It is also essential to their gastrointestinal health.

Tips for Feeding your Guinea Pig

Make sure they always have access to plenty of fresh hay and water.

  • If you need to alternate your guinea pig’s diet, make sure you introduce any changes gradually over a few weeks to allow their digestive system to adjust, and follow your vet’s advice.
  • Any uneaten food should be removed from your guinea pig’s cage after a few hours to ensure that it doesn’t rot or become mouldy, which can in turn cause harm to your guinea pig.

Any Other Questions?

If you want to find out more information, you can call into your local Petmania store or message us on social media and a member of their team will be more than happy to help.

If you have any veterinary questions or need advice, make sure to contact your local vet and schedule an appointment to ensure that your pet is happy and healthy or gets the treatment they need.

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