As a responsible pet owner, one of your main responsibilities in caring for your guinea pig properly is to give it a nutritious diet that will help your guinea pig to maintain good health. This means it is important to understand the dietary needs of a guinea pig so that you can make the right choices when buying food and feeding your pet. Here is a complete guide to the dietary needs of these animals and what you should feed your guinea pig.
What Nutrients Do Guinea Pigs Need and What Should Their Diet Include?
Knowing what you should feed a guinea pig means having a good understanding of their dietary needs. Guinea pigs need a range of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and it is important that their diet is high in roughage. Vitamin C is particularly important for guinea pigs and, like most animals, a fresh supply of water is vital for survival and good health. It is important to provide a diet that gives lots of opportunities for chewing as this helps to wear down their continuously growing teeth.
What Do Guinea Pigs Eat in the Wild?
In the wild, what a guinea pig eats reflects its dietary needs and the foods that are available to them. Wild guinea pigs survive predominantly on grasses as this gives them mots of the nutrients they need and is also good for their dental health. They may also eat smaller quantities of raw fruit and vegetables if it is available to them. Like rabbits, guinea pigs also eat some of their own feces as this recycles B vitamins. They do not indiscriminately eat their own feces as they create special soft pellets of feces specifically for the purpose of eating to supplement their diet.
What Should You Feed to Your Guinea Pigs?
To keep your guinea pig healthy, it is essential that you feed them the right foods. The following are the foods that you should include in your guinea pig’s diet:
- Hay- The main part of a guinea pig’s diet is hay, such as Timothy hay, or other grasses. Not only does this provide them with most of the nutrients they need in their diet, it also helps to wear down their continuously growing teeth.
- Foods rich in Vitamin C- Guinea pigs need a diet that is rich in Vitamin C as this is a vital nutrient and they cannot synthesize their own.
- Raw fruit and vegetables- Guinea pigs get many of the vitamins and minerals they need from fruit and vegetables.
- Dried guinea pig food mixes- Dried guinea pig food and pellets are manufactured specifically to meet the dietary requirements of these pets.
- Water- You must always make sure your guinea pig has a good supply of fresh, clean water available.
What Should You Not Feed Your Guinea Pigs?
In addition to knowing what you should feed your guinea pig, it is just as important to know what you should not feed them. There are some foods that can make your guinea pig ill in the short-term and others that are detrimental to their long-term health. There are even foods that are potentially fatal to feed to a guinea pig. With this in mind, it is vital to know which foods you should avoid feeding to your pet. Some of the foods you should avoid include:
- Cereals and grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and peas
- Bread and biscuits
- Sweets, chocolate, and sugary foods, including sugar
- Potato tops
- Onions and onion grass
- Rhubarb leaves
There is also some debate about feeding alfalfa to guinea pigs. In the past, experts recommended that guinea pigs, especially young guinea pigs, should have alfalfa in their diet. Current recommendations are that alfalfa is potentially harmful to guinea pigs and is something you should avoid feeding them.
Another important point to note is that guinea pigs can suffer health problems if they eat too much food that contains both calcium and oxalates. When eaten together, these two nutrients can cause problems including kidney stones, bladder stones, and other urinary tract infections. Many green, leafy vegetables contain both calcium and oxalates. Therefore, these are foods that you should only feed your guinea pig in moderation.
Further to this list of foods to avoid, you should also avoid feeding your guinea pig dried food or pellets that are intended for other animals if you are not sure what the food contains. It is better to stick to only feeding them dried food or pellets that is specifically made for guinea pigs.
How Much and How Often Should You Feed a Guinea Pig?
Knowing what to feed your pet is not the only important thing to learn to become a responsible guinea pig owner; you should also know how much and how often to feed your pet. They need an unlimited supply of hay and you should top this up when it is running low by putting the new hay behind or under the older hay. If the hay gets damp, it is important to take out the damp hay and replace it with fresh hay. Similarly, they should always have a fresh supply of clean water, so you should replace the water in their water bottle daily.
Other foods you should give your guinea pig are dried food or pellets and fresh fruits and vegetables. You should give each guinea pig approximately one-eighth of a cup of dried food or pellets daily along with a selection of fruits or vegetables that are safe for guinea pigs cut into manageable chunks.
Guinea Pig Food on Amazon- Is It Safe and Does It Fulfill Their Dietary Needs?
There are many places where you can buy food for guinea pigs, including specialist pet stores and many other bricks-and-mortar retailers. Another option is to buy your guinea pig food from online retailers at sites such as Amazon. There are many benefits to doing this, including saving money, making quick comparisons between products, and shopping in the comfort of your own home at times when it is convenient for you.
Some people are concerned that the pet products available online are not as good quality as those sold by a reputable bricks-and-mortar pet store or that they are in some way inferior in terms of nutritional value. That is not the case as many of the products sold online are the same brands as you would find sold by high street retailers. This means that the products sold on Amazon are just as good as those that are sold in bricks-and-mortar stores. The difference is that they usually cost significantly less, so you can save money by shopping this way. Avoid buying foods that are intended for other small animals online as these may contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to guinea pigs.
Feeding your guinea pig the right foods is an important element of caring for them properly and maintaining their health. Their diet should include hay, dried food or pellets, fresh fruit and vegetables, and a fresh supply of water. There are many foods that you should avoid feeding to your guinea pig, so it is always important to check whether a food is safe before giving it to your pet to avoid making them ill.