If you are planning to adopt a guinea pig, and are wondering what they eat, or already have a guinea pig and are wondering the same thing - this article will come in handy. I have compiled a list covering most of the foods that are safe, and not safe for guinea pigs to eat. It is not completely exhaustive, so be wary of untested foods.
Guinea pigs are easy to keep as pets, but do have some special dietary requirements. Special attention to making sure they have enough fibre and vitamin C in their diet is a must, and keeping any foods that are potentially harmful away from them is your responsibility as their owner.
Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods for guinea pigs that are easy to provide, and they love eating them. Not all fruit and vegetables are safe to feed your guinea pig however, so read though these lists before giving them anything you are unsure about.
Different guinea pigs have different tastes and preferences. If you see your pet turning its nose up at a certain vegetable or fruit you will need to find alternatives. A constant flow of healthy foods are important to ensure your guinea pig is getting all of the nutrients it needs.
Here are some of the fruits and vegetables that are rich in nutritional benefits, the high sugar foods can be considered as more of a treat and given in moderation. Always make sure food is clean and fresh, don’t use your guinea pig as an opportunity to get rid of out of date food.
Apples – remove all seeds and cut into slices.
Oranges – give them in segments.
Carrots – they will happily eat the whole carrot, top included.
Leafy Greens – lettuce, spinach etc. Feed these in moderation, too much can cause upset stomachs.
Broccoli – give in moderation for same reasons as leafy greens.
Grapes – any colour will do.
Bananas – peel and cut into smaller pieces.
Cherry Tomatoes – feed these in moderation.
Parsley – a small amount on occasion to add some variety to their diets.
Peppers – yellow, green or red, they all provide a healthy snack that guinea pigs enjoy.
While guinea pigs enjoy eating different foods, this can cause them some health problems if they eat foods that are bad for them. The foods listed below are known to cause anything from a stomach upset, to serious health problems. But no matter how mild you think the symptoms may be, it is best to avoid these foods altogether to be safe.
This is not a complete list by any means, but here are some of the foods your guinea pig should not eat:
Spicy foods – chillies, spices etc
Food specially formulated for other animals – don’t cut corners and feed guinea pigs hamster, rat, or any other pet’s food.
Foods high in sugar – like cakes, donuts and other treats.
Caffeine – your guinea pig doesn’t need a morning coffee.
Dairy products – known to cause stomach upset.
Meat – guinea pigs are herbivores and should not eat any meat.
Iceberg lettuce – can be ok in very small amounts but known to cause diarrhoea.
Cabbage – also known to cause diarrhoea and best to avoid.
Cauliflower – causes gas and discomfort.
The staple of a guinea pigs diet is hay. Guinea pigs have unique digestive systems, they require a lot of fibre in their diet daily to help them digest their food and prevent health issues.
It’s not well known but their stomachs have a double digestion process. A guinea pig eats and digests food once, in-turn creating soft faecal matter which is kept in a pouch in their rump. Then they eat and digest that matter again. This doesn’t sound very nice to you or I, but it is a very important part of keeping them in good health.
As a rule you cannot provide too much hay in their cage. They will graze on it as they see fit, so keeping a constant flow of fresh hay into their cage is recommended. Guinea pig hay is readily available from most pet stores and is inexpensive to buy.
Some guinea pigs will eat hay almost nonstop, but you do not need to worry about them getting fat. Their bodies do not digest it fully; it is used to keep their digestive system working smoothly.
You can provide a complete and healthy diet for your guinea pig without adding pellets with their food. However, adding pellets to their food is an easy way to make sure they are getting a lot of the nutrients they need. It is recommended you use pellets as part of their overall diet as it is difficult to meet all their nutritional requirements without them.
Unlike hay, pellets can make you guinea pig overweight if you are giving them too much. An adult should eat no more than a handful of pellets a day, along with some other fruits and vegetables.
Guinea pigs, much like humans, lack the physical ability to produce their own vitamin C. This is why it is important they are given an outside source of vitamin C. This is obtained through fruit, vegetables and pellets as outlined above.
If a guinea pig does not get enough vitamin C in its diet it will use its body’s supply. This will leave the guinea pig vulnerable to a number of health conditions, so always keep this in mind. If your guinea pig is showing any of the following symptoms, it may be due to poor diet and/or lack of vitamin C:
If you are concerned about the health of your guinea pig, or have any nutritional questions specific to your pet, you should always consult the opinion of a qualified professional.