Whether you’re a brand new guinea pig owner or you’ve been friends with your favorite piggies for a long time, their diet is a big concern for you. As you probably well know, guinea pigs love to eat and chew and taste anything and everything that they can get their little teeth on. However, not everything that they want to eat is something that is good for them.
Understanding what guinea pigs can eat and ensuring that their diet is optimized for their health can help them to live a long and happy life.
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What Can Guinea Pigs Eat Daily
Hay and pellets are the main staples of a guinea pig’s diet. Take care when choosing your pet’s main food sources to ensure that you’re getting high quality products that are appropriate for their dietary needs. Timothy hay is the best choice for most adult guinea pigs, while alfalfa hay should only be fed to younger guinea pigs as well as those pregnant and nursing. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium which can be problematic for most adult guinea pigs. The same applies to choosing pellets – avoid those that are alfalfa based due to the high concentration of calcium.
If you're allergic to Timothy Hay (like we are!), Orchard Grass Hay or Bluegrass Hay are great alternatives. We like the Orchard Grass from Oxbow and the Bluegrass Hay from KMS Hayloft. Our piggies' favorite is, hands-down the Bluegrass Hay. They gobble it all up!
What Vegetables Can Guinea Pigs Eat
Fresh veggies should be given to your guinea pig every day, but you must first understand what vegetables can guinea pigs eat. As mentioned, feeding your guinea pig a diet high in calcium can make them ill, so take care to ensure that there is not a high level of calcium in your vegetable choices.
Some of the most popular vegetables for guinea pigs include:
- Lettuces – butter, bibb, boston, romaine, red leaf
- Green beans
- Carrots (in moderation)
- Cilantro (ours love Cilantro!)
- Green Peppers
- Red Peppers (high in Vitamin C!)
- Uncooked Corn on the Cob (removed from the cob)
What Fruits Can Guinea Pigs Eat
Fruits are a favorite of most guinea pigs, but most should only be fed a couple of times a week and in smaller amounts. Citrus fruits, in particular, can cause mouth sores and should be fed only minimally. When asking yourself what fruits can guinea pigs eat, think about the reaction that your own body may have to these foods and expect the same but with a much smaller amount being the trigger.
Here are some favorite fruits of many guinea pigs:
- Apples (remove the seeds)
- Bananas (very rarely, as they can cause constipation)
- Sweet cherries (no pits)
- Watermelon rind
Foods to Avoid Feeding Guinea Pigs
There are certain foods that guinea pigs should not be fed. They may contain substances that are poisonous to guinea pigs or could be difficult to digest. Of course, they should not eat any kind of bread or baked goods, as well as meat, cheese, and dairy products. Be sure to research ensure that you are avoiding foods that could cause problems for your little friends.
Here are just a few of the most problematic foods for guinea pigs:
- Iceberg Lettuce – This can cause serious digestive issues, so only feed very rarely and in very small amounts.
- Tomato stems and leaves – poisonous
- Apple seeds – poisonous
- Avocado – high fat content
- Bishop’s weed – toxic
- Garlic – poisonous
- Mushrooms – poisonous
- Olives/Pickles – anything pickled or brined is not a safe choice
- Potatoes – green or sprouted potatoes can be poisonous
- Rhubarb – poisonous
- Nuts – high fat content
There is a lot of research to be done when it comes to being a responsible guinea pig owner, starting with learning what foods can guinea pigs eat. Once you get a handle on their diet, your piggie will have a much happier, healthier life.