The Best Guinea Pig Food Options For A Safe And Healthy Diet

Guinea pigs eat hay, pellets, fruits and vegetables.

bags of guinea pig food
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Guinea pigs are herbivores, so they eat plant-based foods. But can you feed your guinea pig any type of vegetable? And what’s the best guinea pig food for your pet?

We spoke to Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian with Hepper, and Dr. Sara Ochoa, a small-and exotic-animal veterinarian in Texas, to find out what you can feed your guinea pig.

What’s the best guinea pig food?

The best daily food to feed your guinea pig is store-bought pellets that are formulated specifically for guinea pigs. They should also eat hay every day and fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

“Most guinea pig diets are based around a pelleted feed that is usually compressed timothy hay with some other ingredients to balance it out,” Dr. Bonk told The Dodo.

When choosing food for your pig, Dr. Bonk and Dr. Ochoa recommend avoiding foods that include seeds and colored pieces because they can be a choking hazard or can hurt your guinea pig’s teeth. Many guinea pigs will also pick out only those pieces and leave the pellets, which have all the nutrients, behind. This fills up your pig with foods with little nutritional value.

You should also make sure your guinea pig has access to hay all day so he can graze. You can use a hay holder like this one from Amazon so he can easily get to it.

“Even with pellets, guinea pigs will still benefit from being offered timothy or orchard grass hay to provide fiber for digestive health and something to chew on to help wear down their teeth,” Dr. Bonk said.

It’s important to give your guinea pig food that wears down his teeth, like hay, because guinea pig teeth are constantly growing. If they can’t chew on things, their teeth will get too long for their mouths, which can cause their teeth or jaws to become misaligned, and in severe cases, they won’t be able to eat or chew their food.

In addition to store-bought pellets and hay, you should give your guinea pig fresh fruits and vegetables regularly. Guinea pigs can’t produce their own vitamin C, so they need to get it from their food. While many guinea pig foods and supplements include vitamin C, it gets broken down with processing, so your pig still might not receive enough from those foods.

“Your guinea pig will need fruits and veggies that contain vitamin C,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo. “If your guinea pig does not get enough vitamin C, they can develop scurvy.”

Scurvy occurs when there’s a deficiency of vitamin C, which causes issues with the production of collagen. This can lead to problems with bone and tissue formation, skin and joints, and blood clotting.

Symptoms of scurvy in guinea pigs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Disinterest in things
  • Squeaking from pain
  • Weight loss
  • Dental problems, like grinding teeth
  • Diarrhea
  • Unhealthy coat (hair loss, rough hair)
  • Painful joints (the guinea pig might have trouble moving around)
  • Wounds taking a long time to heal
  • Red spots on the skin

And while not exactly food, guinea pigs will sometimes eat their own poop, which is actually totally normal (even if it’s gross).

If you’re giving your pig a new food, make the transition slowly because guinea pigs don’t like it when you change up their diet.

Fruits guinea pigs can eat

Fresh fruits are a great way to give your guinea pig vitamin C, Dr. Bonk said.

Some fruits that are safe for guinea pigs and high in vitamin C include:

  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi

Other fruits that you can give your pig include:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Banana
  • Watermelon

According to Dr. Ochoa, fruit should only be given to your guinea pig around once per week as a treat because it’s high in sugar, which can cause an upset stomach.

“Citrus, strawberries and blueberries make good occasional foods but shouldn’t make up more than 10 percent of their diet due to their sugar content,” Dr. Bonk said.

Vegetables guinea pigs can eat

Guinea pigs should be given around one cup of fresh vegetables every day.

“Leafy greens, such as mustard greens, collard greens and turnip greens, should be fed to your guinea pig each day,” Dr. Ochoa said.

Vegetables that guinea pigs can eat include:

  • Kale
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers (with seeds removed)
  • Broccoli
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Endive
  • Cilantro
  • Squash
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Mint
  • Spinach
  • Brussel sprouts

Just like fruit, certain vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, should only be given to your pig around once a week because they have a lot of sugar and carbs, Dr. Bonk said.

What foods can guinea pigs not eat?

According to Dr. Bonk, here are some foods you shouldn’t give your guinea pig:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Coconut
  • Avocado
  • Rhubarb
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Oats
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks

Some of these don’t have much nutritional value for guinea pigs. Others, like any bulb plants (garlic, onions, etc.), are actually toxic, so don’t try to feed any of these foods to your pig.

While lots of people think of alfalfa as being a guinea pig treat, it’s actually not good to give it to your guinea pig all the time because it contains a lot of extra calories, so stick to hay made from timothy or orchard grass. It also has too much calcium to be fed to your pig on a regular basis. A little bit once in a while as a treat is fine, but it shouldn’t be a part of his regular diet. (Alfalfa is an ingredient in some store-bought food for young, pregnant and nursing guinea pigs.)

And don’t feed your guinea pig human food, aside from fruits and veggies. Guinea pigs just need fresh food. Cooked food or snacks you eat aren’t healthy for them and can contain ingredients that are poisonous to guinea pigs.

Best guinea pig foods you can buy

Here are some of the best guinea pig foods and treats out there.

Adult guinea pig food: Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig Food

Dr. Ochoa recommends Oxbow guinea pig food. The pellets are made with timothy hay for fiber, and the food contains vitamin C and antioxidants to support your pig’s immune system.

Young guinea pig food: Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food

Young guinea pigs are still growing, so they have different nutrient needs compared to adult guinea pigs. This food’s formulated for guinea pigs under 6 months of age. It’s made with alfalfa to keep your pig’s energy up.

Orchard grass hay for guinea pigs: Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay Small Animal Food

Orchard grass hay has a sweet flavor that pets love. This hay contains no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.

Timothy grass hay for guinea pigs: Oxbow Animal Health Western Timothy Hay

This timothy hay is all natural and made with no additives, and it’s processed to remove dust to make it neater when feeding. Plus, it contains plenty of fiber.

Hay stacks: Oxbow Animal Health Harvest Hay Stacks Western Timothy Hay

This timothy grass hay is compressed into stacks so there’s less mess, and it’s easier to feed than loose hay. The shape is also fun for guinea pigs, so your pig will get some entertainment with his treat. Plus, it’s made with all-natural ingredients.

Guinea pig vitamin C supplement: Oxbow Natural Science Vitamin C Supplement

Since guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C, it’s super important to give your pig foods that contain it. This vitamin C supplement is all natural and is made with high-fiber hay.

Guinea pig treats: Kaytee Fiesta Healthy Toppings Papaya Treat for Small Animals

These guinea pig treats are perfect to add to your pet’s food if he’s a picky eater, or you can just give them as a snack. They’re made with dried papaya and come in small, bite-sized pieces that are easy for guinea pigs to eat.

Your pig will love these guinea pig foods, and they’ll keep him healthy. And if you want to give your pig some fruits and veggies as a healthy snack, be sure you feed them in moderation.

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