What to feed your guinea pig

A guinea pigs diet should consist of unlimited hay, grass and water. Since guinea pigs are unable to synthesis their own Vitamin C then they must rely on obtaining it from the foods they eat. The best way to contribute towards this is through vegetables. Guinea pigs love their veggies! It can be confusing as a new owner to know which foods to feed their Guinea Pigs and how often.  Below we will outline the basics which are discussed further in our  nutritional requirements article. 

Hay

The best type of Hay for your guinea pig is grass hay more specifically Timothy Hay. Guinea pigs need hay to wear their teeth down and to keep the digestive system healthy. A cost effective way is to provide a cheaper hay as bedding and to keep the more expensive grass hay to fill hay racks and containers. Guinea pigs refuse to eat soiled hay so hay racks and containers are essential.

Grass

Grass is another type of food that can be fed in unlimited supply.  A guinea pigs digestive system is designed to eat foliage and grass is a great source of nutrition. 

If you do not have access to fresh grass (they should never be fed lawn mower clippings!) then providing plenty of grass hay is essential.

Vegetables

Vegetables form a very important part to your guinea pigs diet – they provide essential vitamins and minerals whilst also wearing teeth down. Not all vegetables can be eaten daily and some are even limited to monthly due to the high sugar content.

Some owners fall into the trap of feeding the exact same combination of vegetables daily and guinea pigs can often get bored. Guinea pigs are very similar to us humans, they like a wide variety of food to keep things exciting! The recommended amount is between three and five different types of vegetables per day to ensure your guinea pig doesn’t get bored eating the same foods day after day.

Portion size is important even with vegetables. The recommended amount is to provide each guinea pig a matched boxed size portion. This would be a single lettuce leaf or a small floret of broccoli. 

Below are the vegetables suitable for daily consumption:

Daily

  • Peppers any color – 1 Slice
  • Celery – 1 – 2 slices
  • Cucumber – 1 slice
  • Coriander – 1 – 2 springs 
  • Green Beans – 1 bean
  • Gem Lettuce – 1 leaf

These are the quantities for one pig and should be adjusted if you have more than one piggie.

Two to Four times per week

Whilst the above are recommended for daily consumption by your guinea pig, those with a varied diet will be much happier and healthy than those subjected to the same meal day in and day out. The above is a great sample diet to use as a starting base. All the foods listed below can be eaten more frequently:

  • Artichoke
  • Carrots
  • Collard Greens
  • Parsnip
  • Savoy

Fruit

Guinea pigs can also eat certain types of fruit, however this shouldn’t be a daily treat. Fruit has a much higher sugar content that vegetables and should only be given once or twice a week as a treat. Guinea pigs that eat too much sugar suffer from obesity. Some types of fruit also contain high levels of acidity levels and this can cause sores around your guinea pigs mouth. 

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Bananana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Remember these are a treat and shouldn’t be fed to your guinea pig on a daily basis. 

If you have any questions about your Guinea Pigs Diet please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us!

The Ultimate Guinea Pig Meal Planner Guide

Choosing your guinea pigs food each day can often seem rather complicated! We frequently get asked how to plan out a guinea pigs meals to ensure they are eating healthy without being bored. The internet often offers a variety of conflicting information.

This is why we have decided to put together our “Ultimate Guinea Pig Meal Planner Guide” Before reading this guide its useful to read our other articles on Guinea Pig Nutritional Requirements along with What to feed your guinea pig.

The Wheekwell Guide is our version of “The Eatwell guide” which is a document produced in the UK that shows how much we should eat everyday. It also includes the different food groups humans should be eating from.

The Wheekwell Guide shows what your guinea pig should be eating everyday and which vitamins they require.  Its a simple, easy to use guide for new owners and a reference point for guinea pig veterans owners!

The Wheekwell Guide Overview

This chart shows your guinea pigs general daily requirements. These quantities are what you should aim for daily.

Wheekwell guide

As you can see 80% of your guinea pigs diet should come from Hay. Grass hay in particular is the best for wearing down teeth and aids a healthy digestive system. 

10% Should come from dried guinea pig pellets. Not all pellets are equal so aim to buy the ones that are not too high in calcium as this can lead to kidney and bladder stones. An easy way to check if your guinea pig has too much calcium in their diet is to watch out for milky white deposits in their urine.

Choose pellets that also have vitamin C added since guinea pigs are unable to make their own like us! Our favourites (and the ones we have used for all our guinea pigs) are Excel Burgess Nuggets

Its important to remember that fresh water should also be included for your guinea pig! 

The remaining 10% of the Wheekwell Overview chartsis for vegetables and herbs which we will cover in greater detail below:

The Wheekwell Daily Plate

We have created the Wheekwell Daily Plate to show how to choose your meals for your guinea pig friends. There are also suggestions included as to what to choose for each category.

The below is the recommended amount each day for one guinea pig. We feed our guinea pigs vegetables and herbs twice a day.

One Vegetable High in Vitamin C

Guinea pigs need to be fed Vitamin C rich foods daily in order to keep healthy and ward off disease. If your vet has advised you that your guinea pig has a Vitamin C deficiency then its especially important to provide them with foods rich in Vitamin C. One portion is one chunk, slice or several leaves for the leafy vegetables.

  • Celery Leaves – Chop into small chunks and remove “vein” to avoid chocking
  • Collard Greens
  • Swiss and Red chard – Can cause diarrhoea
  • Spinach – Use caution as too much can cause kidney and bladder stones
  • Kale (curly or plain)
  • Brussels Sprouts – Introduce slowly as may cause bloating
  • Peppers – sweet or bell. Any colour – 
    Introduce slowly as may cause bloating

One herb rich in Minerals

Minerals are essential for healthy guinea pigs and the best way to provide these for your piggy is using herbs. Never feed your guinea pig dried herbs or frozen. Fresh is best and they are very easy to grow. One portion is a sprig or two.

  • Parsley (curly or plain) – It is high in calcium though
  • Coriander
  • Dandelion Greens – Ensure these are free from animal urine if collecting from the wild.
  • Mint
  • Thyme

One portion Mineral and Vitamin C rich vegetable

Cabbage type vegetables are great for this requirement! They contain both magnesium and Vitamins however they can cause bloating. Below are a selection of vegetables for this category. One portion is one slice, chunk or a few leaves.

  • Broccoli  – Stems best to feed opposed to florets. Can cause bloating.
  • Cabbage – Can cause bloating.
  • Cauliflower – Can cause bloating.
  • Corn on the cob
  • Radishes
  • Spring Green – the mildest of the group and able to be eaten almost daily. 

Other Green Stuff

The last guinea pig requirement is just some plain old greens to keep it interesting! Its vital to get your guinea pigs used to a wide range of foods when their young as they tend to get rather fussy when they are older! 

  • Cucumber
  • Courgette
  • Lettuces – Red, green, butter, romaine but NEVER iceberg as it has no nutritional value.
  • Carrots – Contain high amounts of Vitamin A which can cause liver problems
  • Turnip
  • Parsnip

We have also created The Wheekwell Daily Plate Printable for your use. Its great to have on the fridge or somewhere else that you will see it. Simply click to download!

The Wheekwell Daily Plate

Introduce dietary changes slowly and always with other food, never on its own. Keep a close watch over your guinea pig and during its health check to watch for any changes. 

Remember to consult your vet immediately if you think something may be wrong with your guinea pig.

Guinea Pig Nutritional Requirements

It can seem rather overwhelming when you do a simple online search for what to feed your guinea pig. We remember when we first researched guinea pig nutritional requirements. We were fairly shocked to read you feed them three times a day. It seems like a huge amount but after owning guinea pigs a numerous years now you can see why they need it!

Helping-your-guinea-pigs-settle-in

Guinea pigs do not eat meat, high amounts of carbohydrates or fatty foods. They are very strict herbivores.They should never be fed meat or diary products! When it comes to feeding your guinea pig, its useful to remember that in the wild they live in the hills and mountains of the Andes, Peru. They spend their days grazing on fresh grass and other plant materials. 

We will cover the basics of guinea pigs nutritional requirements in this article.

Vitamin C

Guinea pigs are rather like humans in the sense that we both can not make our own vitamin C. Guinea pigs, like us rely on getting their daily recommended allowance of vitamin C from their food alone. In order for a guinea pig to intake vitamin C you need to provide suitable vegetables and a small amount of pellet food to ensure they do not suffer from disease.  Most experts agree that at least five milligrams per kilogram of body weight is the requirement on Vitamin C for your guinea pig but as a rule of thumb twenty milligrams a day is preferred. 

Whilst this may sound a large quantity in comparison to your fairly small guinea pig, it is actually easily obtained by feeding your piggie a supply of fresh vegetables (along with the occasional sweet fruity treat.) Liquid drops of Vitamin C are also available to be added to water. We recommended speaking to a vet before administrating to your pet. 

Grass and Hay

Guinea pigs LOVE grass and hay! If your guinea pig lives outside or has access to an outside space then you are safe to let them graze on it all day! A word of caution: if your guinea pig does live outside, remember they shouldn’t be kept on wet grass. Guinea pigs little furry bellies lie close next to the ground. If walking on wet grass, it will make their tummy wet and can cause colds and pneumonia. 

happy-guinea-pig

If your guinea pig doesn’t live outside, don’t worry as there are still ways of providing them with grass. We cut our lawn with a pair of scissors and bring it in for them. We place it in hay racks and various containers for them to graze on.

Grass hay can also be purchased. Hay is such an important part of a guinea pigs diet and it is crucial for  their survival. Guinea pigs love hay – sleeping in it, eating it, digging in it and of course leaving their droppings in it too.  It provides a nutritional requirement as well as being good fun for guinea pigs. Grass hay aids proper digestion along with the constant chewing action serving to wear down teeth ensuring they don’t become overgrown. The best type of hay is Timothy hay.

Guinea pigs should have hay on the floor of their cage for sleeping in. Since they do leave droppings in it, it is also essential to get a hay rack to ensure they are eating clean hay. A guinea pig will often refuse to eat hay that has been soiled on. A hay rack is really important to ensure they are eating enough hay. A constant supply of clean hay should be provided daily. 

A cost effective way to manage your money whilst also providing unlimited hay for your guinea pigs is to buy a cheaper hay for ground cover and the more expensive Timothy Hay to put into various racks around the cage. This also saves on wastage.

Pellets

Guinea pigs also need to eat dry pellets as part of their daily nutritional needs. It is important to buy pellets that are made specifically for guinea pigs. Do not to use those intended for rabbits as they do not have the same nutritional needs. Guinea pig pellets have Vitamin C added to them. Avoid feeding your guinea pig brightly colored pellets as these rarely contain any nutritional benefits. Guinea pigs tend to leave the most nutritious pellets to the end. 

Guinea pig pellets often come fortified with vitamins, minerals and calcium.  Calcium is required to keep teeth and bones healthy, however too much can be dangerous to your guinea pig. Its useful to watch out for any white deposits in your piggies urine. This can be a sign that the food has too much calcium in it. A high intake in calcium can lead to formation of bladder stones. 

According to the RSPCA, the recommended amount of guinea pig pellets per day is one handful.

Vegetables 

Guinea pigs love vegetables! Vegetables are a crucial part  to a guinea pigs diet. The best type of vegetables are romaine lettuce and spring greens. Ensure you feed your guinea pig a variety of vegetables daily to ensure they have a good mixture to snack on all day. Guinea pigs can also eat small quantities of fruit and herbs as a treat but due to the high sugar content of fruit, this shouldn’t be happening daily. The RSPCA have a wonderful food chart that helps form the basis of your guinea pigs meal plan:

Water

guinea-pig-water-bottle

Its important to ensure your guinea pig has a constant supply of fresh, clean water. It can be provided in with a water bowl or water bottle. Ensure you clean the water and bottle / bowl daily to prevent the build up of bacteria that could make your piggy ill.

Cecotropes (soft feces)

Yeah unfortunately we are talking droppings! You may have noticed that your guinea pig produces two types of dropping: A hard type and a dark, shiny one. The latter is the one they eat and usually straight from the source (IE their bottom.) Whilst its slightly odd to us humans, guinea pigs practice coprophagy which is the eating of this special type of dropping. 

These special types of droppings are actually full of Vitamin B and Vitamin K which is essential to a guinea pig’s good  health. Studies have shown that guinea pigs prevented from eating these special droppings develop malnutrition and die.