“What should I feed my guinea pig?” is one of the most asked questions by new guinea pig parents on Facebook and other online forums. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees about what constitutes a healthy guinea pig diet. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. And don’t assume that what you see or hear at the pet store is actually good for your guinea pig!
Prior to developing our STAYbowl™ Tip-Proof Bowl for guinea pigs and other small pets, we spent a fair amount of time researching this important topic. We learned that there are four simple rules that most cavy vets and experienced owners agree on:
- Guinea pigs are strict vegans, and do not eat any animal products — at all. Products such as yogurt drops that you might see sold for guinea pigs at pet stores are totally inappropriate and should be avoided. Guinea pigs also should not be fed seeds or nuts.
- Timothy hay or orchard grass should make up about 80 percent of a guinea pig’s diet. This should be available in unlimited quantities, along with fresh water. The hay helps to keep their teeth worn down and their digestive tract moving.
- Guinea pigs need about a cup of fresh vegetables every day. Some good ones to start with include Romaine lettuce, cilantro, cucumber, and red/yellow/orange/green bell pepper. Small quantities of fruits can be fed once or twice a week at most. Just like with humans, it is best for your guinea pigs to “eat the rainbow” every day. See link below for a comprehensive fruit and veggie guide.
- High-quality pellets, or kibble (we use Oxbow), adds important vitamins and minerals to your guinea pig’s diet. But too much can be dangerous. Adult guinea pigs should only get 1/8 cup (2 Tbl) of kibble at most per day. More than that can result in high concentrations of calcium and other minerals, which can lead to painful bladder stones and other health problems. Also, if guinea pigs are allowed to graze on kibble all day long, they may be less likely to eat enough hay, which is critical for their digestion. Avoid any kibble varieties that include fruits, nuts, seeds or colored bits.
Reducing mess and waste was the primary reason we developed STAYbowl™ Tip-Proof bowl, but portion control turned out to be an important secondary benefit. The STAYbowl™, which holds ¼ cup of kibble and is just right for two guinea pigs, allows guinea pig parents to better monitor their pets’ food intake and make sure their pets are getting just the right amount of food they need.
Guinea pigs are adorable and cute, and they can make great family pets. But they do have very unique nutrition requirements that we all need to be aware of. Getting this right can improve our guinea pigs’ health and wellness, and also help to extend their lifespans.
Below are some useful links about guinea pig care and nutrition. We will post these links on our website under the Free Resources tab (https://www.mystaybowl.com/pages/free-resources).
[Copyright 2016 by Green Oak Technology Group, LLC]
Veterinarian Resources on Guinea Pig Nutrition & Care
Other Guinea Pig Resources
Guinea Lynx: http://www.guinealynx.info/
Seagull’s Guinea Pig Compendium: http://www.aracnet.com/~seagull/Guineas/feeding.html
The Guinea Pig Forum (UK): https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/recommendations-for-a-balanced-general-guinea-pig-diet.116460/
Guinea Pig Forum’s Comprehensive “Edible and Forbidden Veg and Fruit List with Vitamin C Grading”: https://www.theguineapigforum.co.uk/threads/edible-and-forbidden-veg-and-fruit-list-with-vitamin-c-grading.42/