Foods That Guinea Pigs Should and Should Not Eat

Updated on July 19, 2019
finatics profile image

Finatics is a loving guinea pig keeper. He loves sharing helpful tips and information with other cavy parents online.

As with any living animal, it is very important that guinea pigs are given a healthy, balanced diet. They do not require a particularly complicated menu, but they need to be given grass hay, healthy fresh vegetables, a moderate amount of quality pellets, and a good source of vitamin C. An excess of anything (except grass hay) can be unhealthy for them, so make sure you give your cavies appropriate amounts of the right foods so they stay healthy and happy for years to come.

Guinea pigs aren't the pickiest eaters, but their are certain foods that should be avoided to keep them in good health.
Guinea pigs aren't the pickiest eaters, but their are certain foods that should be avoided to keep them in good health.

The Best and Worst Foods for Guinea Pigs

Foods to Feed
Foods to Avoid
Grass hay
Salt licks or mineral blocks
Plain pellets
Animal byproducts
Fresh vegetables (and the occasional fruit)
Seeds with kernels that cavies can choke on
Daily vitamin C supplement
Veggies with a lot of calcium
 
Iceberg lettuce

What to Feed Your Guinea Pig

1. Grass Hay

Quality grass hay is the most essential part of their diet, so there should be a constant supply of it.

Grass hay has many important health benefits:

  • It is a good source of fiber.
  • It wears down their teeth.
  • It's a low-calorie food that is filling. This prevents your guinea pig from over-feasting on sugary pellets or veggies!

The most common source of grass hay is timothy hay, but another popular type is orchard hay. Many people mistakenly buy their cavies alfalfa hay. Constantly feeding this to them isn't healthy because it is too high in calcium, and too much calcium can lead to bladder stones. Alfalfa is a legume hay, which is different from the grass variety, and should only be given to pregnant or nursing sows or very young cavies.

The best place to buy your grass hay is from a local farm or feed store as it's generally a better quality and sold for a lower price than packaged hay sold at pet stores.

Note:

Hay should be replaced often if it is not kept in a hay rack because many guinea pigs enjoy peeing or pooping where their food source is placed.

This cavy is enjoying a delicious pile of timothy hay!
This cavy is enjoying a delicious pile of timothy hay! | Source

2. Pellets

  • Pellets should only be fed in small quantities (no more than 1/4 of a cup a day for each cavy).
  • Many brands sell pellets that are alfalfa hay based. As discussed before, this is good for cavies under a year, but if they are older than that, you should only give them pellets that are timothy hay based.
  • Make sure the pellets do not contain kernels as these can be a choking hazard.
  • It is recommended to feed a pellet that is plain, with no extra seeds or tidbits, so that your guinea pig doesn't end up eating only the parts he likes. This can lead to an incomplete nutritional diet.

3. Fresh Vegetables and Fruits

  • You should feed your guinea pig about one to two cups of fresh vegetables every day.
  • You can occasionally give it a fruit. Fruits are high in sugar and should be given no more than once a week as a full serving.
  • Vegetables provide many of the nutrients that a cavy needs to be healthy, but make sure you choose your cavy's main source of veggies wisely.
  • The recommended main source of fresh food is dark, leafy vegetables, such as romaine lettuce or parsley.
  • Kale is very healthy and high in vitamin C, but it is not a good choice as an everyday food because of its high amount of calcium.
  • You should feed your guinea pig a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure they are given a balanced nutrition.

Carrots make for a delicious and healthy cavy snack so long as they are eaten in moderation.
Carrots make for a delicious and healthy cavy snack so long as they are eaten in moderation. | Source

4. Vitamin C

Unlike other rodents, cavies cannot produce their own vitamin C and have to be given it through their diet or with a supplement. My vet recommends giving guinea pigs a supplement to ensure they are getting enough vitamin C.

But, with that said, you should not put vitamin C drops in their water bottle. A guinea pig site called Guinea Lynx claims that:

  • Water is vital to good health but because vitamin C changes the flavor, your cavies may drink less.
  • Ascorbic acid degrades rapidly once added to water.
  • Some cavies drink a lot and some very little, so it is impossible to know how much vitamin C your pet is getting.

The best supplements are either chewable tablets or a liquid vitamin C that can be fed using a syringe. My own cavies won't chew the tablets, but they enjoy the liquid treat they receive every day.

What Not to Feed Your Guinea Pig

You should avoid feeding your guinea pig the following foods:

  • Salt licks or mineral blocks: These can cause a mineral buildup, which can lead to bladder stones.
  • Animal byproducts
  • Seeds with kernels that cavies can choke on
  • Veggies like broccoli, which, in excess, can be unhealthy and cause gas
  • Iceberg lettuce: This has no nutritional value and can be bad for the guinea pig's digestive tract because of its high water content.

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.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Aurora 

        3 months ago

        I have two guinea pigs.they are super cute

      • profile image

        H W 

        8 months ago

        Very helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • profile image

        Guiana pigs rock 

        2 years ago

        Thanks for all the help and instructions on how to feed Guiana pig. I have owned my Guiana for a couple of months now, and a lot of things you mentioned that were wrong, I thought were right, such as pellet food with extra pieces of stuff, or only feeding my piggy vegetables every once in a while. You have really benefited my piggy. Thank you.

      • profile image

        katelynn shockley 

        2 years ago

        i want one

      • profile image

        hope i'll become a vet :) 

        5 years ago

        What should I do if my guinea pig, affectionately called Gina, simply does not want to eat a lot of her pellets?

      • mizwoody profile image

        Heidi Woodruff 

        6 years ago from Clarksville, TN

        I enjoyed your post regarding piggies. One of mine recently died, however, his brother did well adjusting. And they are cute, especially when they sqeek

      • profile image

        Payton 

        6 years ago

        Ugliest picture I ever seen in my life ashey

      • finatics profile imageAUTHOR

        finatics 

        7 years ago

        @ashley call, yes, they certainly are! :)

      • profile image

        Bob marley 

        7 years ago

        Thanks mon

      • profile image

        Ashley call 

        7 years ago

        Guinea pigs are cute

      • finatics profile imageAUTHOR

        finatics 

        8 years ago

        Thank you, Siomara! It's true that pet shops that sell live animals are often just out to make a profit and give many owners false advice about how to care for their animals. I'm glad you enjoyed my article!

      • profile image

        Siomara 

        8 years ago

        Excellent article!!! No one in the pet shop told me about all this things!

      • finatics profile imageAUTHOR

        finatics 

        8 years ago

        Thank you, priyankabd!

      • priyankabd profile image

        priyankabd 

        8 years ago from dhaka

        ohhh very nice

      • finatics profile imageAUTHOR

        finatics 

        8 years ago

        Thank you, thebluearatus, but it is not recommended to keep your guinea pigs outdoors. Please check out this link for reasons why:

        http://guineapigcages.com/location.htm

      • profile image

        thebluearatus 

        8 years ago

        Mine stays in the open garden, so it gets to eat a lot of green grasses and roots.

        Thanks for the great article.

        looking forward to read more of your work

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)