Feeding your piggies
When choosing a pelleted feed for your guinea pigs you want to select something that is Timothy hay based and fortified in Vitamin C. Guinea pigs are unable to produce their own Vitamin C, which can cause them to develop scurvy if they aren’t properly supplemented. Alfalfa hay based feeds should be avoided because of the excess amount of calcium. Excess calcium can cause bladder stones and sludge.
Many pelleted feeds on the market are actually not safe for guinea pigs. If you shop down the pet food aisle, you might find food that has seeds, nuts, dried fruits, and other colorfully dyed pieces. These are unhealthy and can be dangerous to your guinea pig. Guinea pigs are unable to eat seeds and nuts, which can cause them to choke on the food. Dried fruits are extremely sugary and cause your piggy to become obese. The dyed pieces are often toxic and are unnatural in a guinea pig’s diet.
At the rescue, we feed Oxbow Adult Essentials to our guinea pigs. It is a hay based pellet fortified in Vitamin C. Another brand we recommend is Small Pet Select, which is also an excellent pelleted feed for guinea pigs.
Selecting a type of hay is very important because this will be the main part of your guinea pig’s diet. Hay contains many nutrients essential for your guinea pig to thrive, but it also is a great way to help guinea pigs wear down their teeth. Unlike people, guinea pigs’ teeth continually grow throughout their life. Because of this, they need to wear them down so they don’t overgrow and prevent them from being able to eat and drink.
There are many hay options out there. Most pet supply stores offer Timothy hay, but you can find other varieties from local hay farmers, including Orchard Grass, Clover, and many other flavors. Alfalfa hay should only be fed as an intermittent snack for your guinea pigs, or if your guinea pig is pregnant, nursing or your guinea pig is under 6 months old.
Hay should be offered as an unlimited food source. It provides your guinea pig with hours of enjoyment as they love to burrow and nest in nice, big hay piles. Any hay that is wet, musty, dusty, moldy, or mildewy should be discarded right away.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vitamin C degrades very quickly in pelleted feed, so we must supplement our guinea pigs with Vitamin C through veggies. Vegetables that are high in Vitamin C include parsley, bell peppers, kale, spinach, and broccoli. We need to be careful not to over feed kale, spinach, or broccoli because it can cause bloat and is also high in calcium. Feeding different nutrient rich veggies keeps a healthy, balanced diet for your piggies. Other excellent veggies are cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, and peas. We need to make sure we avoid over feeding acidic veggies (tomatoes) as it can burn the corners of the guinea pig’s mouths, which isn’t fun!
Fruits should be offered in small amounts weekly. Fruits are high in sugar, and guinea pigs being their very laid back selves, can get a bit pudgy eating too much fruit. Excellent fruits are strawberries, bananas, oranges, peaches, melons, and blueberries. We need to make sure we avoid over feeding acidic fruits (oranges) as it can burn the corners of the guinea pig’s mouths, which isn’t fun!
There are many supplements on the market. A common misconception is that Vitamin C drops are effective and that guinea pigs need salt. This isn’t true. Vitamin C drops that are added to the water degrade rapidly when exposed to the sun, while salt blocks can be dangerous for piggies as they may break their teeth. Besides feeding Vitamin C rich veggies, you can feed fortified supplements, like Oxbow’s Vitamin C snacks or other dietary specific supplements intended for guinea pigs.
Here's a link to the Humane Society of the United States and what they recommend for feeding your guinea pigs.
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