Guinea pigs benefit from a varied diet that includes hay, pellets and fresh vegetables. This combination of food provides a guinea pig with enough nutrients and calories to live a happy and thriving life. Guinea pigs also need fresh water daily, and benefit from additional vitamin C if they are not getting enough of this vitamin from the fresh, raw vegetables.
Hay is an integral part of any guinea pig’s diet. In fact, it’s so important that it should be given to your guinea pig day and night. Guinea pigs love to graze on hay while they are in their cages. Guinea pigs can actually die from “gut stasis” if they go more than 12 hours without eating, and hay is the best way to ensure that they constantly have something to munch on. Hay also gets your guinea pig the necessary amount of fiber, and keeps their teeth properly ground. Baby guinea pigs should be given alfalfa hay because it is high in calcium and calories, while adult guinea pigs should be given [easyazon-link asin=”B000WFKF9O”]timothy hay[/easyazon-link] or orchard grass, which are lower in calcium and calories.
Choose a good quality guinea pig pellet to feed to your guinea pig daily. Adult guinea pigs eat around 1/8 cup of pellets a day when also fed a combination of hay and fresh vegetables. Just like hay, alfalfa based pellets can be given to baby guinea pigs while timothy based pellets should be given to adults. Avoid pellets that have animal by-products, seeds and nuts, dried fruits, corn filler or any other type of filler. Also be sure that the pellets don’t contain corn syrup, sucrose or food coloring. These can be dangerous to guinea pigs, and also lead to obesity. Pellets are normally high in calories, so reduce the amount of pellets given to your guinea pig if you start to see it putting on some extra weight.
[easyazon-image-link asin=”0764122886″ alt=”The Guinea Pig Handbook (Barron’s Pet Handbooks)” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51sYCppqPyL._SL160_.jpg” align=”left” width=”130″ height=”160″]Guinea pigs love fresh, raw fruits and vegetables every day. Vegetables that make great additions to a guinea pig’s diet include romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, green peppers, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes and baby carrots. A couple pieces of lettuce, one baby carrot, and a slice of tomato, pepper or cantaloupe a day is enough to keep your guinea pig full and healthy.
Avoid fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and potatoes. Add a bit of vitamin C supplement for animals to a freshly cut fruit or vegetable to make sure that your guinea pig is getting enough of this important mineral that guinea pigs don’t produce on their own.
Any change you make to your guinea pigs diet should be done gradually to avoid disruption in the digestive process. Switch from alfalfa to timothy hay over the course of a week or so, and be sure to monitor your guinea pig to make sure it is adjusting well to the change. Also pay close attention to your guinea pig when introducing new fruits and vegetables to its diet, as not all guinea pigs react the same to diet changes.