A healthy diet for guinea pigs
Make sure your guinea pig has a healthy diet
Things you should do
- Provide fresh clean drinking water at all times. Check the water supply twice a day. Make sure the water doesn’t freeze in winter.
- Good quality hay should make up the majority of your guinea pigs' diet and should be available at all times. Fresh grass and vegetables should be given as frequently as possible and ideally daily.
- A fresh portion of grass-based guinea-pig pellets should also be available daily, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide essential Vitamin C. Vitamin C is destroyed over time and quickly with exposure to the air. So a fresh portion of pellets must be given each day, do not just top up the bowl, and always ensure the pellets are used by the best before date.
- Fresh grass and leafy greens such as kale and broccoli are excellent sources of Vitamin C, and some leafy greens should be provided daily. However, do not give citrus fruits to your guinea pigs.
- Growing, pregnant, nursing or underweight guinea pigs may need a larger portion of pellets. Your vet will be able to advise you about how to provide the best diet for each of your guinea pigs.
- Find out which plants are safe to feed your guinea pigs. Offer safe, washed leafy greens or weeds every day.
- Do not feed lawnmower clippings as these can upset a guinea pig's digestive system and make them ill.
- Only give root vegetables like carrots, or fruit such as apples, in small amounts, such as an apple quarter, as a treat. Do not feed any other treats as these may harm your guinea pigs.
- Adjust how much you feed your guinea pig to make sure he/she does not become underweight or overweight.
- Don’t make any sudden changes to your guinea pig’s diet as this could upset his/her digestive system and make him/her very ill.
- Monitor the amount your guinea pig eats and drinks. If your guinea pig’s eating or drinking habits change, if the number of droppings gets less or stops, or there are soft droppings sticking to his/her back end or lying around the cage, talk to your vet straight away as he/she could be seriously ill.
- Without water to drink a guinea pig can become seriously ill.
- Guinea pigs are grazers and naturally eat only grass, herbs and some plants like dandelion and groundsel.
- The guinea pig's digestive system must have lots of grass and/or hay in order to function properly.
- Some plants are poisonous to guinea pigs.
- Guinea pigs do not naturally eat cereals, root vegetables or fruit.
- Guinea pigs have special dietary needs and must have sufficient Vitamin C in their diet.
- Guinea pigs naturally eat for long periods of time throughout the day and night.
- How much an individual guinea pig needs to eat depends on his/her age, lifestyle and state of health.
- If a guinea pig eats more food than he/she needs, or too much of the wrong food, such as fruit or sweet treats, he/she will become overweight and may suffer.
- Guinea pigs’ teeth grow continuously throughout their life and need to be worn down and kept at the correct length and shape by eating grass, hay and leafy green plants. Failure to eat the right diet can result in serious dental disease.
- Guinea pigs produce two types of droppings – hard dry pellets, and softer moist pellets that they eat directly from their bottom and which are an essential part of their diet.