Guinea pigs are herbivores and their diet should mimic the one that’s natural for them. How much can guinea pigs eat and what can they eat? Can you give them too much food?
You can overfeed a guinea pig if you give your pet too many sugary foods and other empty calories, such as commercial treats. To avoid overfeeding your guinea pig, keep track of what food you are giving to your pets. Give them food that is safe for them and corresponds to their nutritional needs.
The balance of nutrients in fresh food is not always the best for a guinea pig’s daily nutritional requirements so you can easily overfeed guinea pigs if you’re not careful.
For example, some fruits contain too much calcium that can build up in your pet’s body and create kidney and bladder stones, which are very painful and dangerous, even life-threatening.
Therefore, you should know which food is safe for your guinea pig and how much food to give your guinea pig so you can properly feed your pet every day.
A healthy guinea pig diet has to include an unlimited supply of grass hay in the hay feeder, guinea pig pellets, and raw, fresh vegetables and fruits.
Table of Contents
- What Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
- How Much Hay Can a Guinea Pig Eat?
- How Much Should Guinea Pigs Eat to Prevent Overfeeding?
- What Food is Bad for Guinea Pigs?
- Can Guinea Pigs Eat Two to Three Times a Day?
- Final Thoughts
What Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Piggies are strict vegetarians and they cannot digest meat, dairy products, and processed food.
Although their main food is hay, guinea pigs need a proper balance of nutrients.
They need all nutrients as human beings do, but they require them in different quantities.
For that reason, raw vegetables and fresh fruits are classified into two groups. In the first group are all the foodstuffs that are safe for guinea pigs, while in the second group is produce that is unsafe for these small animals.
There are many reasons why certain fruits and vegetables are dangerous for guinea pigs.
For instance, some are toxic to them, others are high in sugar, or high in calcium, which can create health problems for your pet such as obesity, diabetes, bladder and kidney stones, loose stool, bloating, and others that can seriously endanger your pet’s life.
Obesity is obvious and turns guinea pigs immobile and sedentary, which exacerbates their health problems.
Fruits safe for guinea pigs include:
- Ripened tomatoes
The list doesn’t end here but includes many other fruits such as kiwi, dragon fruit, strawberries, etc.
Treat fruits like you would sugary delicacies to an obese child – in really small amounts and occasionally.
The most beneficial vegetables for your guinea pig include leafy greens and a few others such as:
- Bell Peppers (yellow, orange, red, and green bell peppers)
- Collard Greens
- Romaine Lettuce (all lettuce types but iceberg lettuce)
- Turnip Greens
This is not the end of the list, but all the vegetables here are best regarding nutritional benefits for your pets.
There are many dangers if you feed your pet in excess.
For instance, cabbage in larger quantities can cause bloating (and should never be given to pregnant piggies). Also, carrots are high in sugar, so they can also negatively affect the health of your pet. The sensitive guinea pig’s digestive system cannot process sugars well.
Apart from timothy hay, vegetables, and fruits, you can also feed your pet guinea pigs pellets enriched with vitamin C.
How Much Hay Can a Guinea Pig Eat?
You can never give too much hay to your pet.
Overfeeding guinea pigs with hay is impossible.
The best hay is high-quality grass such as timothy hay that’s rich in fiber. Fiber is very important to these small animals for the proper functioning of their digestive system.
You can offer other types of grass hay to your piggies, but make sure that it is safe for them and corresponds to their nutritional requirements. For instance, baby guinea pigs should feed on alfalfa hay because it contains a lot of calcium that’s crucial for their development. Likewise, pregnant or nursing sows also need more calcium to sustain their babies.
However, as they grow, foods high in calcium become dangerous to them. Piggies cannot eliminate excess calcium from their bodies so it accumulates and becomes responsible for the formation of kidney and bladder stones.
Piggies suffering from urinary tract issues such as bladder stones usually need surgery.
Also, hay helps in keeping a guinea pig’s teeth trimmed.
Combine timothy hay and fresh vegetables that are good for guinea pigs, and your pet will get all the necessary nutrients. Vitamin C is one of the most important because guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C, and this vitamin plays an important role in their immune system.
Lack of vitamin C (vitamin C deficiency or scurvy) is very dangerous and can be lethal for your guinea pig.
If your guinea pig has any of the following symptoms, it may be due to poor diet and/or lack of vitamin C:
- Weak and low energy
- Small wounds and bleeding
- Wool is coarse and awkward
- Swollen joints and pain
When bloated, piggies stop eating, it is not only a sign of a problem but can lead to other severe health issues.
Overall, every day guinea pigs need access to hay (unlimited supply), and raw food (in limited quantities).
Keep your guinea pig healthy by avoiding commercial guinea pig treats and sugary treats (such as raisins or other dried fruits).
Feeding guinea pigs with too much sugar can cause serious health problems for these small animals.
When giving your guinea pig a fresh meal, combine foods of different nutritional value and never feed them one type of food more than two to three times a week.
Also, never give too much food to your guinea pig, not even food that’s on the safe list for these small animals.
General Guideline| Important for a Guinea Pig’s Healthy Diet
The most essential food in your guinea pig’s diet is hay and the following feeding ratio should be followed:
80% of hay every day (high-quality timothy hay is commonly used and your guinea pig has to have easy access to it all the time)
10%-15% of vegetables, herbs, and fruits
5%-10% of pellets
Feed guinea pigs strictly with raw and fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly washed, peeled if necessary, and cut into small pieces. Always remove the seeds.
How Much Should Guinea Pigs Eat to Prevent Overfeeding?
When you feed a guinea pig with pellets, make sure to buy the plain ones, without seeds, corn, and calorie-dense nuts.
Such products are not safe for guinea pigs but that is exactly what you’ll find in many low-quality feeds.
A fresh hay-based diet is a perfect and healthy diet for your guinea pig unless your pet is still very young or pregnant. In that case, an alfalfa-based diet is a must during the earliest stages of their development.
While overfeeding your guinea pig with hay is impossible, you can easily overfeed your pet with fresh produce that’s high in sugar, calcium, or other components that don’t have any nutritional value for your pet.
Baby Guinea Pigs
A baby guinea pig feeds on its mother’s milk.
Quickly it grows and starts drinking fresh water and eating guinea pig food that should consist of alfalfa hay at this early stage.
Younger guinea pigs can start eating solid food in the form of nutrient vegetables.
Adult Guinea Pigs
An adult guinea pig should eat about 1/8 cup of pellets once a day. At the same time, your pets have to have unlimited amounts of fresh timothy to chew on whenever they want.
If you give more than 1/8 cup of pellets per pig per day lower it.
Although many pellets available in the market contain vitamin C, fresh and raw produce is a great source of various vitamins and minerals your guinea pig needs.
Pay attention to the amount of fresh food you are feeding to your guinea pigs, as the nutritional value of each type of raw food is different, and not all produce is safe for guinea pigs.
Feeding a guinea pig with certain types of fresh vegetables and fruits can cause diarrhea, obesity, kidney and bladder stones, or other medical problems.
Overall, feed your guinea pig with unlimited access to hay every day, fresh vegetables, and some fruit, which are the main sources of all the nutrients for your pet.
What Food is Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Vegetables prohibited in your guinea pig’s diet include:
- Spicy vegetables such as chili peppers, hot peppers
- Beets or fruits with a high sugar content: sugar is not good for guinea pigs, so better avoid giving it to your piggies
- Fruit seeds such as those in apples or grapes
- Eggs, dairy products, etc.
- Food specially designed for other animals – do not cut corners and feed a guinea pig with hamsters food, rabbit food, or any other household food
Remember that guinea pigs cannot process meat, processed, or cooked food.
Don’t cook for them, as they cannot digest anything that’s not completely natural or specially formulated for them, such as commercial guinea pig treats and pellets.
Although your pocket-sized pets like to eat a variety of foods, stick only to the food you know is safe for your guinea pig.
You should never feed your guinea pig with seeds and grains because they present a choking hazard for them.
To maintain a healthy guinea pig diet, provide an unlimited amount of hay (for grownup guinea pigs), and alfalfa (for very young guinea pigs).
Also feed your guinea pig with 1/8 cup of guinea pig pellets once a day, and one cup of vegetables and fruits (especially leafy greens), all in moderate amounts.
Firstly, you should know that the guinea pig is a herbivore that feeds primarily on dry food such as grass, timothy hay, orchard hay (Dactylis glomerata, also known as cat grass), alfalfa hay, and dry legumes, which all provide a significant contribution of fiber important for intestinal motility.
Secondly, not all fresh food is safe for your pet.
Don’t forget to eliminate from the food bowl all the food that your pet hasn’t eaten, including stale pellets.
Of course, always wash vegetables and fruits and cut them into small pieces before giving them to your guinea pig.
- Make sure that your pet always has fresh water in the water bottle or water bowl
- Pay special attention to water during winter, as it can freeze if the environment is very cold
- Choose fresh and dust-free good quality hay
- Guinea pigs should have an unlimited quantity of fresh grass hay
- Pellets should be more abundant in young, pregnant, or lean guinea pigs
- Check prohibited guinea pig products to avoid poisoning your pet
- Control food and water consumption, as well as the amount of excrement your guinea pig produces
- If your pet stops drinking and eating, go to the vet immediately
- Guinea pigs feed on their manure, this is a perfectly normal behavior
- Overweight guinea pigs require an adjustment to their diet
Besides, don’t give your pet treats bought at pet stores or large quantities of unnecessary sugary treats (such as raisins), as these can cause many health issues.
That way, you can cause much harm to your pet.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Two to Three Times a Day?
Yes, it’s okay if you split your pet’s meal into two to three servings and feed guinea pigs in the morning and evening.
Stick to a set feeding schedule if possible.
When feeding your furry friends, provide them a proper balance of nutrients every day to prevent obesity, high blood pressure, digestion issues, urinary problems and other health issues.
Because of the very delicate digestive system, when overfed with nutrients that are harmful to them, guinea pigs die as a result of serious health issues and complications.
So can you overfeed a guinea pig?
Yes, indeed, you can. Overfeeding a guinea pig is a possibility because these small animals love to eat.
Guinea pigs can eat only hay, fresh and raw fruits and vegetables that are safe for them, and pellets.
One guinea pig needs unlimited hay, 1/8 cup of your guinea pig’s pellets (so 1/4 for two), and around one cup of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. To prevent overfeeding guinea pigs, stick to the recommended amounts.
A balanced diet will maintain your guinea pig’s health and longevity.