As a responsible cavy-keeper, I like to ensure my pets are getting the best nutrition possible.
In the age of constant recalls, nothing is more frustrating than worrying about what your pet should be eating. Seven years ago, as a pet store employee, I adopted a cute little guinea pig without a clue of what dry food I should feed him. Fresh veggies, unlimited timothy hay, these were a given. But when it came to pellets, I had some serious research to do. You can find my list of dry foods farther below.
There are tons of brands out there. Some have nuts, some don’t. Some have fruit bits, some have this hay, that hay, blue flakes, red flakes, and everything in between. After doing a lot of reading, I found the right food for my piggie.
The Best and Worst Foods for Your Guinea Pig
Most of the cheaper brands are flashy. These are the foods we want to buy because they look good and taste good to the piggies, but unfortunately, they are the ones to stay away from. These foods are usually a mixture of pellets, colorful pieces (flakes or pellets), nuts, seeds, and/or fruit bits.
1. Oxbow Cavy Cuisine
We’ll start off with my number one favorite and recommendation. Not only does my piggie love it, it’s one of the best foods out there. It’s made from high-fiber timothy hay, not alfalfa. This is a must for mature guinea pigs, ie, 9 months to 1 year and older. Alfalfa is fatty and rich, and in older pigs it leads to weight gain and health problems like diarrhea. Cavy Cuisine also does not use chemical preservatives, artificial colorings, animal fat, or corn. It has a balanced calcium-to-phosphorus ratio for a healthy urinary system. But what I like most about Cavy Cuisine is that it contains a stabilized form of Vitamin C with a 12-month shelf life. Although I still like to adhere to the “buy the freshest pellets possible because Vitamin C potency goes down”, it is one extra way to ensure that your piggie gets plenty of Vitamin C. Oxbow also makes Cavy Performance, made with alfalfa for young, pregnant, or lactating piggies.
2. Kleenmama’s Hayloft Timothy Choice Pellets
Another excellent food. This is a high-fiber timothy-based pellet with the correct calcium-to-phosphorus levels and a high amount of stabilized Vitamin C. This brand also contains none of the harmful preservatives or artificial colorings. From researching the website, this is a brand I would like to try in the future, as she grows and sells a variety of hays depending on the season. An alfalfa-based pellet is also available.
3. Sweet Meadow Timothy Guinea Pig Pellets
A timothy-based pellet with an Oxbow-similar 12-month shelf life stabilized Vitamin C, this food is also a great choice. Optimum calcium for a healthy urinary system Sweet Meadow also produces a Timothy/Alfalfa mix pellet, which luckily contains for timothy than alfalfa.
4. Burgess Excel Guinea Pig
According to their site, Burgess Excel is the UK’s number 1 vet-recommended food for fibrevores. High in fiber (36 %), the crunchy nuggets, not pellets, come in Regular flavor and Blackcurrant and Oregano. It also has a high Vitamin C content and counts among its first 10 ingredients grass, hay, and peas. In fact, the only reason I would be hesitant about this food is that those first 10 also include lucerne (another name for alfalfa) and maize (corn). Corn in guinea pig food is just like corn in cat or dog food: a filler with no nutritional value. Regardless, reviews from users are always fantastic, speaking of its fresh scent and their healthy piggies. Plus, Burgess is an established, trusted brand.
5. ZuPreem Nature’s Promise Premium Guinea Pig Food
At first glance, this seems a winner: natural, made from timothy hay, and not as expensive. Unfortunately, after timothy hay, the next two highest ingredients are ground corn and corn gluten meal, which as stated above are fillers and useless. Okay Vitamin C, if it is fresh. Final thought: while there is definitely worse you could be feeding your piggie, there certainly is better.
6. Health Select Natural Guinea Pig Diet
Though containing alfalfa-based pellets, this mixture food does contain timothy hay. Plus, it’s free from preservatives, artificial colorings, and flavors. And, though a mixture, it does not have the treat pieces found in other foods. The food provides adequate Vitamin C, so all in all, it’s a decent cheaper brand. But, because it’s alfalfa based, you’ll want to keep on eye on your piggie’s weight and feces.
7. LM Animal Farms Bonanza Gourmet Diet Guinea Pig Food
The Bonanza version of LM’s dry food is a nice surprise. The pellets are still alfalfa-based, but timothy hay is an ingredient. And though it does have added dried fruit and such, the ratio of treats to pellets is not that bad. Like the Health Select Natural, it would be an okay food, but recommend mixed with a higher quality like Oxbow or Kleenmama’s.
8. Vitakraft Menu Guinea Pig
While I am usually a fan of Vitakraft products, this guinea pig food is a let-down. Low in fiber, alfalfa-based, and containing a mixture of things including extremely hard, impossible to chew dried corn kernels and peas in addition to little treats, it’s not the food to choose. That doesn’t rule out Vitakraft in general, however, a Germany-based company that produces excellent treats, hay, and raw-based diets.
9. Sun Seed Sunaturals Natural Guinea Pig Food
An alfalfa-based mixture food with high corn content and relatively-low Vitamin C content.
10. Sun Seed Sunscription Vita Prima Guinea Pig Formula
Also an alfalfa-based mixture food with lots of corn.
11. Kaytee Timothy Complete Guinea Pig
A pelleted, timothy-based food with an unfortunately low Vitamin C content. While there are no treats mixed in, my worry is the preservative ethoxyquin, one of the most debated preservatives used in dog foods.
12. Kaytee Fiesta Guinea Pig
An alfalfa-based mixture food. Okay in fiber, but contains a whole lot of dried fruits and nuts your piggie only needs as treats. Contains ethoxyquin.
13. Nutriphase Guinea Pig Formula
Alfalfa-based pellet formula with high corn content and quite low Vitamin C. Contains ethoxyquin.
14. Nutriphase Gold Guinea Pig Formula
Pretty much the same as the non-Gold version, except it includes some timothy hay, peas, and crunchy treats. Contains ethoxyquin.
15. Supreme Pet Foods Gerty Guinea Pig Original Food (The Real Stuff)
A mixture food with tons of alfalfa (three different forms!), low vitamin content (many users report dull coats, among other things), and lots of treats and crunchy bits for your piggie to sift through, this food affords for a picky piggie. It also contains the preservative BHT.
16. Gerty Guinea Pig (The Bulk Stuff)
Often pet stores will buy various foods in bulk, package them themselves in plastic bags, and sell it. Guinea pig dry food is sometimes labeled as Gerty Guinea Pig. This stuff is even worse than the real stuff. From the long time it sits on the shelf and the air exposure, the vitamin content goes down quickly and the food becomes stale. It is usually full of treats. Preservatives vary.
17. Kaytee Exact Rainbow Guinea Pig
Instead of a pellet or nugget, this food is made up of crunchy, rainbow-colored logs and circles. That in itself is a turn-off for me as a pet food buyer. Think of all the artificial colorings! Besides that, it’s alfalfa-based and full of preservatives. Contains ethoxyquin.
18. Mazuri Guinea Pig Diet
Much like ZuPreem, this pelleted food looks good: no treats, and a high Vitamin C content. It even says it uses a stabilized form of Vitamin C that lasts longer. But the alfalfa-based nature of the food and the addition of animal fat preserved with BHA makes it a no-go.
19. 8 in 1 Essential Blend for Guinea Pigs
An alfalfa and corn-based mixture food with lots of seeds, nuts, alfalfa, and crunchy treats.
20. 8 in 1 Ecotrition Organic Guinea Pig Food
Interestingly enough, the 8 in 1 organic food would appear to be less beneficial. Though true that the alfalfa and veggies used are USDA-certified organic, the Vitamin C content is low. Regardless, it’s just another mixture food with a fancy label.
21. LM Animal Farms Guinea Pig Food
With alfalfa-based pellets and a lack of vegetable ingredients save soybean, there really isn’t any point to buying this food unless you can use it for crafts.
22. LM Animal Farms Vita Vittles Gold Total Diet for Guinea Pigs
Similar to the normal LM Animal Farms food, there’s really no reason to buy this pellet. In addition to the alfalfa pellets, it includes some veggie bits and ethoxyquin.
23. Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Guinea Pig Food
A basic alfalfa pellet with preservatives.
24. Kaytee Supreme Daily Blend Guinea Pi Diet
A basic alfalfa pellet containing ethoxyquin.
What Do Guinea Pigs Need in Their Food?
So, what is it that guinea pig dry food should look like? A bag full of pellets and nothing else is the best way to go. The seeds and nuts in mixture foods are high in fat. Often times the mixtures include sunflower seeds. Be aware! Sunflower seeds in the shell are dangerous, not just because of high fat content, but because the shells splinter into sharp pieces that can cut and get stuck in your piggie’s mouth and throat. Sunflower seeds in the shell are often included in guinea pig treats as well, so be sure to look them over before purchase. The colorful pieces are usually just puffs, which are not nutritionally bad. However, there is the concern of artificial coloring. And, in general, when given a choice between healthy pellets and tasty fruity bits or treat-like seeds and puffs, your piggie will probably turn to what tastes best and miss out on the nutrition they need.
Last but not least, there remains the question of Ascorbic Acid, aka Vitamin C. Guinea pigs have a mutated gene that prevents them from converting glucose to ascorbic acid. Basically, like humans, guinea pigs can’t synthesize their own Vitamin C. In order to ward off scurvy, diet must provide it. Most guinea pig dry foods claim to have added Vitamin C. The problem is, it loses its potency over time. You must be careful to check the expiration date on the package, as the added Vitamin C is only active for 3 months after the pellets were produced, provided it has not been exposed to high heat or other conditions that would break it down faster. Even so, the best way to provide your piggie with their 15-25 mg per day of Vitamin C is through fresh foods. While oranges and kale are very high in Vitamin C and great for your piggie every now and again, oranges are highly acidic and kale makes gas. The best fresh veggie to keep your piggie Vitamin C’d up is bell pepper. While red, orange, and yellow peppers contain more Vitamin C than the regular green, 1/8 to 1/4 of a bell pepper per day is the perfect veggie (in addition to others such as romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, or peapods!). If you feel you need a liquid or pill Vitamin C supplement, do your research. Never add it to drinking water! There is no guarantee your piggie will drink enough, and it also loses its potency fast. Still, fresh foods, if fed correctly, eliminate the need for supplements.
Never feed a guinea pig dry food made for rabbits! Though the pellets look similar, rabbits can make their own Vitamin C. Thus, the pellets do not contain any.
The Bottom Line
Just as you would for any pet, be conscious of what you are feeding your piggie. Look for timothy hay-based pellets for adult guinea pigs without added nuts, seeds, crunchy bits, or dried fruits. Alfalfa for adult piggies can cause weight gain, kidney stones, bladder stones, or calcium crystals in their urine. Read the ingredients to check for preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. These may cause health problems like dry skin, allergic reactions, and dental disease, as well as stimulate harmful effects on liver and kidney functions. And even though good quality, Vitamin C rich pellets like Obxow, Kleenmama, Sweet Meadow, and Burgess cost a little more than the others, it’s well worth it for the health and happiness of your piggie.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
B on May 07, 2020:
What about wild harvest
Apple Sawyer on January 02, 2020:
What about small world guinea pig pellets??
Annette (Tasmania Australia) on June 18, 2017:
Hi to the author (Albatross) of the great article 0n the good, bad and ugly of dry guinea pig food. I am always doing research on what to feed my 56 rescued guinea pigs and there are some very good informative sites online, including yours which I have just found. My research has mostly been on the complex issue of getting the C:Ph ratio more or less right as well as adequate vit C in their daily diet. Whoever said guinea gigs were simple animals to look after needs to retract that statement. I live in Tasmania and access to good brand guinea pig pellets is is almost impossible. Apart from the fantastic store and guinea pig rescue (Guinea pigs Australia) in Sydney who I support in every way I can and the odd vet here there is no store that sells decent brands. Feeding this many guinea pigs on a budget and trying to get it right is challenging to say the least, particularly with the calcium/ phosphorous ratio and stones pigs. A question I have is: if a good brand guinea pig pellet ( in this case Burgess) is past its premium use-by date and therefore being sold at half price would its stabilised vit C still be intact or does it degrade over time? I have for the past 4 months been using Jack Rabbits guinea pig and rabbit pellets which are the best of a bad range but affordable and I worry that they might not be providing anything of any nutritional value at all for my pigs. The majority of the girls with one lucky neutered boy free range in a sense in that they all live in my house at the moment in the 3 large bedrooms, a bit like super large C&C cage setups. They have access during the day to the outside and grass area through a hole
( piggy flap) in the back door and a ramp leading down a flight of stairs, which they use liberally with their last session outside usually at dusk. When I call them in they come running back up the ramp in readiness for their big feast of freshly picked grass and evening veggies. I supplement every other day with crushed vit C tablets and animal brand calcium complex powder. I also randomly check urine samples for the white gritty evidence of too much calcium, however it is really difficult to know if they are getting enough calcium. Last year three of my rescues died suddenly in my arms in a space of three weeks which was very distressing to say the least. I had observed that they were partially paralysed in back legs so rushed them inside and contacted Lynn Chuffnut from Chuffnut Cavies but before I had time to do anything they had died. All three had trouble swallowing and were lethargic although the day before had appeared normal. It was suggested that calcium deficiency may have been the culprit, so now I have injectable calcium and vit C handy in my ever growing first aid kit to administer in an emergency. It was following those deaths that I began my research. I am now quite paranoid and constantly on the lookout for abnormal behaviour, sounds and movment in the pigs. They have good quality hay which they sleep in and have multiple hay racks and get fresh hay daily which is always a cause for great excitement and loud squeaks. Since the big rescue last year these adorable furry critters have been a major part off my life which has changed dramatically. I just adore them.
Ellie on November 23, 2016:
Is it safe to feed Mazuri Timothy-based food pellets? Pretty sure if has no corn ingredients and positive it has no seeds or colored bits...just plain pellets...I also think it has a good amount of C..is this food safe?
Ground Timothy Hay, Ground Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Ground Oats, Flaxseed, Cane Molasses, Whole Wheat, Calcium Carbonate, Soybean Oil, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Whey, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Stabilized Vitamin C), Magnesium Oxide, Choline Chloride, Dl-Methionine, Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Bifidobacterium Thermophilum Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Vitamin A Supplement, Dried Yucca Shidigera Extract, Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Ground Rice Hulls, Calcium Pantothenate, D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Riboflavin, Vegetable Oil, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Nicotinic Acid, Cobalt Carbonate, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Carbonate, Copper Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite.
Karen on October 20, 2016:
Just would like to point out that Mazuri now sells a timothy-based pellet that is sold in many pet stores. Many say that it's an upper-end food (still behind Oxbow and KMS in the eyes of many, but definitely a good option).
Crystal on September 28, 2016:
Claire on April 30, 2016:
I've just adopted 2 guinea pigs. I have other members in the family who have wheat/ gluten allergies. They are very sensitive and have become sick with the contaminations from the pellets, and possibly hay. I hesitant to try a non-pellet diet, as I have been told that gp need pellets for dietary requirements.
Does anyone know of a good gluten free pellet brand in Australia? Or one that I can order from overseas?
Shannon Panko on April 03, 2016:
I found this on the Internet, your opinion please? The videos say words like soft, aromatic and green and I thought it should be yellow and hard like straw or hay?
Newly adopted by 2 juvenile males Bob and Kevin and want the best for them
A on March 11, 2016:
The ingredients lists mentioned may be quite outdated by now and should be re visited as they are not accurate. Kaytee does not contain artificial preservatives. As well, you mention corn as being a cheap filler but don't mention soy and it's by products which Oxbow contains in abundance. This article needs updating.
earl on July 21, 2015:
I noticed you never mentioned small pet select pellets or Dr Fosters and Smiths food are they any good for guineas?
albatross3300 (author) on April 08, 2015:
Hello! A bit belated, but I'm back. As far as the cane molasses goes, it's in the food to make it tastier for the piggies. That being said, it is certainly an ingredient that makes you think twice. However, most pellets, even the good ones like Oxbow, have some sort of sweetener added to make the pellets palatable and given the great quality of the food and lack of issues I can find regarding the molasses (and my personal experience with it being no problem) I don't believe it to be a cause for concern. It's a very small amount, not poured over the food.
I will certainly look into adding Mazuri! Thanks for the heads up.
And yes, once the piggies are old enough to go off of the Oxbow Young, they can have the Cavy Cuisine (aka Essentials) food. The recommended age to switch is 6 months, so 4 months is a little early. They're still growing and need the extra fat in the Young food. The ingredients you listed contain a lot of dry fruits, which is not the best. The foods with dry fruits and colorful crunchy bits contain a lot of extra sugar (the fruit) and just generally treats, which the piggies will typically prefer over the pellets. You want a food that is only pellets, with no other colorful bits. With foods that contain such treats, they tend not to have optimal vitamin c balances. What brand are you listing the ingredients for? As far as the cancer, I apologize, but I can't say whether or not the food is causing it. Have you discussed with your vet?
albatross3300 (author) on December 31, 2014:
Thanks for the comments, all! I'll get back to you in the new year :)
Rachel on December 27, 2014:
Hi! i was wondering what you would recommend for feeding 4 guinea pigs. Their ages are 2 years, two are 6 1/2 months, & 14 weeks. the ingredients for the food i currently feed them are: Sun-cured Timothy Grass Hay, Wheat Middlings, Ground Wheat, Oat Hulls, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Sun-cured Alfalfa Meal, Dried Cane Molasses, Dehydrated Carrots, Dried Sweet Potato, Dried Cranberry, Dried Papaya, Dried Mango, Dried Banana, Salt, Dicalcium Phosphate, Soy Oil, Calcium Carbonate, DL-Methionine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Yucca schidigera Extract, Vitamin A Supplement, Choline Chloride, Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Ferrous Sulfate, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Rosemary Extract, Citric Acid, Cholecalciferol (source of Vitamin D3), Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Biotin, Cobalt Carbonate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Aspergillus oryzae Fermentation Extract (source of Protease), Dried Bacillus licheniformis Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Product. they love this food so much that every day i refill all their bowls because they are out of pellets. I have been feeding piggies this food for 2 years and the vet says all four of them are very healthy. with my middle 2 girls they were feed Oxbow young guinea pig food until they were 4 months old (because they finally started getting along with the older one), and my 14 week old was fed the same until she was 9 weeks old. would you suggest i switch to oxbow cavy cuisine? and could the food i'm feeding them cause Lymphoma or other cancers? (my first piggie died of Lymphoma in July.)
Thomas on November 18, 2014:
I see the great recommendation for Oxbow on here, but I understand that molasses is used in the pellet. Isn't that just like pouring a natural sugar on it?
I thought sugar was bad for cavy pigs?
I currently feed 80% timothy hay and 20% pellet to my 2 pigs Stella and George.
Raspberry on September 23, 2014:
Mazuri now makes a timothy based guinea pig pellet. So perhaps this brand of cavy pellet should be bumped up on the list of cavy pig brands?
albatross3300 (author) on May 09, 2014:
For a 3 week old Piggie, I would feed Oxbow Cavy Performance. This is their food that is alfalfa-based as opposed to timothy hay-based. They can eat the alfalfa-based until about 6-8 months old, then I'd switch them over to Cavy Cuisine (timothy hay-based).
albatross3300 (author) on May 09, 2014:
Though Harringtons does have the Vitamin C, I'm a little confused by it's other ingredients... it doesn't have timothy OR alfalfa hay, which is very odd. It does have grass and other grains, so that may be ok. The first ingredient is sunflower, which is also odd.
As it has the Vitamin C, it definitely isn't the worst food. It's still above the colorful fun mixes. However, I'd stress providing your Piggie with lots of timothy hay, if this is the route you go, and continuing to supplement with fresh vitamin C options (like green peppers) and other veggies like romaine lettuce.
Phoebe's mom on May 01, 2014:
what dry food would you recommend for a 3 week old piggy?
Melissa on March 01, 2014:
i don't know why i wrote Oxford when its Oxbow, i'm sorry!
Melissa on March 01, 2014:
Hi! do you know the brand Harringtons (previously called Wagg) and is it good ? i've been feeding my 3 guinea pigs this brand for one year and a half approx. i live in Canada, and i never found Oxford, and there is not much choice except the bad brands with colorful stuff and seeds.
Nika on February 05, 2014:
Sorry,i give him cavia comlete ( not cavia crispy) i have another oxbow with tag organic,but he don't eat this feed,likes only cavia complete and oxbow for adults with harmful soya.. don't know what to do and which healthy feed buy for piggie
Nika on February 05, 2014:
and now i dont know which feed buy to my piggie
Nika on February 05, 2014:
hello! i love guinea pigs too,they are so sweet:) i have been giving for a long time cavia cryspi and oxbow for adults to my piggy,but recently i've heard about gmo harmful soya in oxbow feeds..and afraid about this a lot..,
albatross3300 (author) on January 29, 2014:
Has he eaten any of the Oxbow pellets? If no, how long have you been trying?
If you can, I would try and get a bag of the old food to mix in with the Oxbow. Don't get me wrong-- Oxbow is top of the line food and the only pellet I would buy my guinea pigs. But there's always an adjustment period, and it's better for the animal's digestive system if the transition is done more slowly. If you absolutely cannot get any more of the old food, really keep on eye on him for the next couple of weeks to make sure you don't see any diarrhea, or that he isn't as active as normal. In those cases, you may have to bring him to the vet.
However, there are animals who simply don't care (my cat just switched foods with no problem). When I first bought Oxbow, my guinea pig ate it right away and there were no issues. So I wouldn't worry yourself silly about it-- just keep an eye on him and make sure he's eating. Perhaps put less pellets than usual in the bowl so you can really notice if he's eating. And make sure to offer him all the hay he wants and lots of fresh veggies-- if he is a little hesitant about the new pellets, the hay and veggies will still give him plenty of nutrition. Again, you may (unfortunately) have to purchase a bag of the old to mix in if he truly isn't eating it. I've never had a problem will piggies not liking it, because it's so full of timothy hay they gobble it right up.
Congrats on switching to Oxbow, though! A far better food-- your piggie will thank you!
Morgan on January 29, 2014:
I had been giving my guinea pig the Sunseed Sunscription stuff, but they were out of it at the store so I thought i would be a good opportunity to switch to something healthier. I bought Oxbow Adult Guinea Pig Food, which sounded super healthy, with the first ingredient being Timothy Grass and has a guaranteed minimum of at least 22% fiber. I know you are supposed to slowly transition your piggy to new food, but I was completely out and so was the store. Before, he used to mostly just eat the colorful bits. Now I'm worried that he may not be eating the Oxbow stuff at all, instead relying on veggies and hay.
Will he start eating the stuff eventually?
love piggig on January 05, 2014:
i am sopost to do a project on guinea pig food. wich is the best,Paws premium,wild harvest,orsmall world?
hope to here from youn soom!
albatross3300 (author) on August 12, 2013:
My apologies for the late responses! It has been a very busy year.
Oxbow is a wonderful brand- my piggie had it for his entire life and was very heathly, energetic, and had a soft coat. If you really find it too expensive, I would go with Kleenmama’s Hayloft Timothy Choice Pellets or Sweet Meadow Timothy Guinea Pig Pellets. If you are willing to buy one of these excellent foods and mix it with LM Animal Farms Bonanza Gourmet Diet Guinea Pig Food on the cheaper end, that may be a good solution. I know it seems a little expensive, but it's worth it, especially when you consider the Vitamin C aspect. Your guinea pig will really appreciate it!
As far as timothy hay goes, I usually bought my piggie the Kaytee Natural or others on sale. I don't think Oxbow is necessary for the actual hay. Just make sure the brand you are purchasing is fresh and not full of hard stalks or lots of dust (then you're not getting your money's worth, either!)
Lemons for guinea pigs I would not recommend. They are extremely acidic and sour. Oranges, while good for their Vitamin C content, are good for piggies in limited amounts (a bit once a week or so). Just keep an eye to make sure they don't develop sours on their mouths; my piggie received oranges as a weekly treat. But lemons... I'd say no.
email@example.com on May 02, 2013:
do you know if they eat lemons and are they safe.
Rsgymjam on February 15, 2013:
I am thinking about getting a GP and regard Oxbow as a #1 brand according to research so far- however, it seems very expensive. I am trying to get a good quality food, but a little less expensive would be nice for both the pellet food and the timothy hay. What brands are overall the best?
michael444 on October 25, 2012:
I have a guinea pig named Oreo. I always give him a special mixture of broken up lettuce, cut up carrots, and normal guinea pig food pellets. I get my pellets from Petco and Pet smart.
I will be making a Youtube video on How to Make your Guinea Pig Happy and Healthy. Oh yeah, Oreo loves it!
Georgie on April 09, 2012:
Why is lucerne hay bad for our guinea piggies?
samantha on February 18, 2012:
guinea pigs are cute
I love guninea pigs
abigail on February 07, 2012:
my guinea pig is called bugsie. i feed my guinnea pig the colourfull pellets
i didn't realise how bad they were
however she avoids the seeds and the dry green stuff
she knows what she enjoys
thank you por telling me how bad they realy are i will chose the plain ones next time
Liesl on March 07, 2011:
HI thanks for getting back to me. The first food I listed is a locally made food by Petex "Natural Blends Gourmet Rabbit & Guinea Pig food".
I do feed veggies for the Vit C and have been on some good forums that has menu charts for veggies. I did ask a local breeder about food and they feed locally made rabbit food. If I don't come right with Oxbow than I will give the LM bonanza a go. I tried to contact the NZ club but seem to have the wrong email and so will try again. Will let you know what I come up with. Thanks :)
albatross3300 (author) on March 06, 2011:
Of the foods you've listed, the best would probably be LM Animal Farms Bonanza Gourmet Diet Guinea Pig Food, because this contains a mix of timothy and alfalfa, and it also mainly pellets (there's some treat bits, but not a ton). The Kaytee Rainbow is also not horrible, but it unfortunately only contains alfalfa. Stay away from Hartz.
In the first comment you left for me, where you listed ingredients for a food...which type was that? The one with the meadow hay?
The most important thing to do is to make sure your piggie is getting their daily requirement of Vitamin C. If you are feeding a food that is for both guinea pigs and rabbits, please switch to a strictly guinea pig diet. Any time a pellet is marketed for both guinea pigs and rabbits, that means it does NOT contain Vitamin C. This is because rabbits can make their own...guinea pigs can not. They always need different foods.
Let me know how you make out with the NZ club and Oxbow AU. I'll try to do more research, but it seem living in New Zealand and having a guinea pig is far more of a challenge then living in the UK or the USA.
And I can't stress enough, please please please make sure your piggie is getting lots of fresh veggies to get Vitamin C from! Mine got lettuce everyday, and for his daily Vitamin C got a slice of bell pepper, about an 8th of the bell pepper. Any color. He loved it! :)
Liesl on March 02, 2011:
Hi again, I have also found LM BONANZA GUINEA PIG,LM GUINEA PIG DIET and HARTZ GUINEA PIG FOOD. So is any of these or any of the previous ones I named a ok brand to feed or should I just stick with the locally made mixed foods? The one I am feeding now is made from (pellets) Alfalfa meal, ground oats, ground wheat, rolled barley, soyabean, meal, dehydrated carrots, striped sunflower, rice flour and flaked peas (treats are made with) wheat feed, maize (non GM) sunflower oil, herbs, carrot powder and mineral calcium carbonate. It contains 1o% protein, 4% natural oils and 4% fibre.
Thanks for all your help!!
Liesl on March 01, 2011:
Hi thanks for the reply. I haven't bought the pellets yet but it is listed as a NZ made food that suppose to be a premium food. I am currently feeding the normal rabbit/guinea pig store food that I know is not good!! Animates only carry the rabbit/guinea pig NZ made food (I will check with the other branches but mine does not carry a big range) and I have seen some international brands online but they do not rate well, we get Kaytee Exact Rainbow Guinea Pig, LM Animal Farms Vita Vittles and Vitakraft Menu Guinea Pig. Is any of these brands better than the mixed food that I am feeding? I have tried to get Oxbow and some other USA brands but no one can get it due to low demand. Oxbow AU only sells Oxbow vet food to 3 NZ vets. My last resort is to phone and see if they could stock the normal diet as well and if not then I will contact Oxbow Au and see if they could ship it to me but on their website they say they only ship locally.
Thanks for your help, its much appreciated and I will contact the NZ club as well!!
albatross3300 (author) on March 01, 2011:
I haven't been on here for awhile, sorry. Here's responses to the last three comments:
Yes, alfalfa-based pellets are just fine for growing cavies. It's very fatty, however, which is why adults should not get it (just like adult dogs don't get puppy food and such). An "adult" is considered between 8 months and a year, depending on the piggie.
Kiana - I've been trying to do some research on the Hagen brand, but I haven't been coming up with much on the information side. Based on what you've told me, I'd say stay away from it. The fact that it says it's okay for other animals, like hamsters, means it more likely than not does not have properly preserved Vitamin C. And Vitamin C is the MOST IMPORTANT thing for your piggie, since they, unlike hamsters and other rodents, cannot make it on their own. They need it from food. Ground corn isn't the end of the world, unless it's in the top several ingredients. Then it means that it's use as a filler is quite high, so even if the food is cheaper than other brands, you're actually paying more in the long run because your pet isn't getting what it needs. Lastly, like I said above about alfalfa - if your pig is under 8 months to a year, alfalfa is okay. That means they are growing, and fatty alfalfa is good for their growth. But if they're older, or you notice they are experiencing diarrhea or significant weight gain, it needs to be changed to a timothy-based food.
Where did you purchase the food? Do you have another pet store you could visit to find a better pellet?
Liesl - Meadow hay is fine. My piggie gets timothy hay sometimes and other times meadow hay...it's a different type, obviously, but they have comparable amounts of fiber and neither are fatty like alfalfa, which is a "legume" hay like clover.
Could you tell me what brand you purchased? What worries me about the ingredients you listed is that the first ingredient is corn. That means there's more of that than anything else, and corn is a filler with no nutritional value. I also see lots of things like sunflower seed and various fruits; does the food have a lot of seeds and fruit chunks mixed in with the pellets? As stated, piggies tend to eat these and ignore the pellets (the treats taste better!) which means they won't be getting the nutrition or Vitamin C they need.
I've been doing some research and you're right, it seems to be hard to find a good food in NZ. I did find a New Zealand Cavy Club, which I suggest you contact. I'm sure they'll have some good information. I also found the pet store chain "Animates"...perhaps you've been there already, but if not, maybe they would have something? They don't have their products listed on the website. According to the Oxbow website, their products are sold in a few locations in NZ. Their distributor is based in Australia and has an ebay store. Otherwise, it seems like there are a lot of online outlets for pet foods in NZ, but most don't seem to carry good foods. The links to what I found are below, and I'd suggest you see what the Cavy Club has to say and look at the shipping options for getting pellets delivered to you. I know it seems like a hassle, but until the vet near me started carrying Oxbow pellets, I ordered them from an online site. If you know what you're looking for, you can research which sites have the cheapest shipping options.
Hope this helps! If you still can't find a good pellet, make sure your piggie is getting his Vitamin C from veggie/fruit sources. I've also attached a link to a site that lists how much of various veggies/fruits per day a pig needs to get the necessary Vitamin C.
New Zealand Cavy Club:
Vitamin C Guide:
Another useful site is cavymadness:
Liesl on February 27, 2011:
Hi I don't get the good USA brands here in NZ and so I am looking for the best pellets around. Does this look like a good food for guinea pigs? Ingredients: Maize, Peanut, Pumpkin Kernel, Sunflower Seed, Lucerne, Golden Oat Straw, Meadow Hay, Oat, Wheat, Barley, Dried Banana, Walnut, Raisins, Dried Pineapple, Coconut, Wheat By-Products, Lucerne Meal, Soyabean Meal, Maize By-Products, Barley By-Products, Coconut Meal, Almond, Bran, Rose Buds, Copra Meal, Peas, Molasses, Vegetable Oil, Limestone, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Vitamins & Minerals. It says it contains stabilised Vitamin C. (We don't seem to have timothy hay here and so we use meadow hay) Thanks
Kiana on February 03, 2011:
Hi, my dad bought a bag of Hagen pellets. I read the ingredirnts and theres grinded corn. They are also pretty big! It sayz its made for guinea pigs but in smaller print it says its good for hamsters gerbils and other small pets. It says they made sure there is no insects in it so my guess is that they used pesticides. But it says theres alfalfa hay but no Timothy hay. There were no more bags of food and the sales lady told my dad it was the best. Im POSITIVE it is not but he wont beleive me. Help! :S
Guinea Pig Safe Food List on December 28, 2010:
I have read that young guinea pigs need alfalfa based pellets, while mature cavies should get timothy hay based pellets. The alfalfa is supposed to help the young cavy grow I think.
albatross3300 (author) on August 12, 2010:
You are indeed correct when you say these preservatives are found in lots of human foods, including pretty much all chewing gum. I included it as a point, however, because it is a concern for many people. Both BHA and BHT are still being tested for their carcinogenic effects, and there are many countries and boards which recognize the potential side effects. For example, BHT has been banned as a food ingredient not only in England, but also Sweden, Australia, Japan, and Romania. The EU prohibits the use of BHA as fragrance ingredient in cosmetics, and products in the state of California stay away from BHA because there they are required to place warning labels on products containing BHA that tell customers the chemical may cause cancer.
So yes, the chances of the BHA and BHT in the guinea pig food giving your piggie cancer or other health problems are probably slim. But with a chemical that has so many unknowns still, I personally like to be aware of what my pet (and myself) is eating.
Brenda on August 12, 2010:
I read your warnings about BHA and BHT in Guinea Pig food. In the past year, companies have been adding these preservatives to human food. BHT is supposedly illegal in England but our FDA is ok with it. Try finding a pack of gum with out.