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What is The Best Food for Guinea Pigs?

By AK, 15 May

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When it comes to food, guinea pigs really live up to their name - they make absolute pigs of themselves! They love to eat, and they aren’t particularly picky either. The good news is, a hungry cavy is a happy cavy, so as long your guinea pig is acting like they want to scoff everything in sight, rest assured - that’s a sign of good health. So how do you keep up with your piggy’s voracious appetite, while at the same time making sure they get all the nutrients they need? Start with the basics, and make sure they fill up on them first!

The foundations of a well-rounded guinea pig diet are pretty straightforward: dry grass hay, hay pellets, and a steady supply of fresh, clean water refreshed and refilled daily. You can also supplement their diet with limited quantities of fresh produce for a bit of variety. Sounds simple enough, right? It is, for the most part, as long as they are getting the quantities (and the quality) they need to ensure optimum health. Read on to learn more about the best guinea pig food and its vital components to take care of your guinea pig’s well-rounded diet.

1Water

Guinea pigs are thirsty little critters - they require a lot of fresh, clean water in their bottles! The vast majority of their diet is made up of dry food (pellets and a whole lot of hay) and they need something to wash all of that down. A hanging bottle is much more hygienic than a dish of standing water, which tends to get all sorts of stuff in it. Make sure you wash and refill their water supply every day!

Water

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2Hay

Guinea pigs and hay go hand-in-hand. Approximately 70% to 80% of your guinea pig’s diet should be dried grass hay, and it must be available at all times in unlimited quantities. As bland and unpalatable as dry grass sounds to us humans, cavies literally live for the stuff! Grass is a natural feature of their habitat in the wild, so you could say it smells and tastes just like “home” to them. Not only that, hay is great for their digestion, providing them with a great source of fiber. It’s also a great way for them to trim down their ever-growing teeth. Drop a big pile of hay in your pet’s bowl, and you’ll have yourself a gleeful guinea pig with a ready-made all-day buffet.

The most popular type of dried grass for cavies by far is Timothy hay because it’s readily available, and is also fiber-rich, full of protein and gives them all the nutrients they need. However, not all Timothy hay is created (or should we say, cut) equal. In fact, there are three different cuts to choose from.

First cutting is the coarsest, so it’s great for gnawing down teeth, and is full of fiber and seed heads. But it’s also lower in protein, and many guinea pigs find its coarseness slightly unpalatable.

Hay

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Second cutting is the perfect middle ground -- what your cavy would consider “just right” in a Goldilocks scenario. It’s easier to eat and has more protein than first cutting, but still has a good amount of digestion-friendly fiber.

Third cutting is the softest of all and should be considered a treat because cavies normally need more fiber than it provides.

Other types of hay include alfalfa, orchard, and oat. At Small Pet Select, we can help you choose which hay your guinea pig needs for optimum health. (We even offer a gourmet blend as a treat, which is a guaranteed hit!)

3Pellets

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Pellet food is made from timothy hay, and is specially formulated to fill in any nutrient gaps, with added minerals and Vitamins A and C. It’s important to note, however, that even though pellets contain hay, they are not a substitute for it! Guinea pigs generally eat about ? of a cup of pellet food a day.

The pellets we offer at Small Pet Select are made in small batches and are fortified with all the nutrients your pig needs to stay healthy, when they eat them in addition to a steady supply of our highest quality timothy hay.

Pellets

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4Fresh veggies

You can offer up to one cup of fresh vegetables a day to freshen up your guinea pig’s diet. Some great daily veggie choices include kale, Romaine lettuce, bell peppers, and spinach. Sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, and carrots can be given once or twice a week to take care of your pet. Fruit is also fine once a week, but it’s high in sugar, so keep portion sizes small -- a slice of banana, a few blueberries, an orange wedge are perfectly adequate!

A diet of clean water changed daily, an unlimited supply of fresh high-quality hay, all-natural hay-based pellets and fresh veggies will give your pig a lifetime of health and happiness.

Fresh veggies

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