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Can You Overfeed A Guinea Pig? (Diet Restrictions & Eating Tips)

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Tim Rhodes

Probably, in every family, there’s a pet who loves to eat non-stop and, since guinea pigs can eat a lot and all the time, you might be wondering if you can overfeed a guinea pig.

For many people, guinea pigs are the perfect pets.

Most people strive to surround their pets with care and attention and create the best conditions for the pet to enjoy a long and healthy life.

Can You Overfeed a Guinea Pig?

Unfortunately, guinea pigs can eat even when full.

So, yes, you can easily overfeed a guinea pig, which is why owners should take great care of their guinea pig’s diet.

Guinea pigs are herbivores.

Although the diet of a guinea pig should consist of timothy hay, alfalfa hay, green grass, or fresh vegetables and fruits (especially leafy greens), your pet can easily suffer from problems in its digestive system.

A big part of the problem is that guinea pigs cannot eat everything humans can and some foods can cause them great harm.

Therefore, you should know much about a guinea pig’s diet so you can feed your pet in a healthy way every day.

Guinea Pig Facts

Guinea pigs got their name from their ability to grunt.

The Indians used them as a gift and, in general, they have grown to become ideal pets.

Guinea pigs seldom bite, they’re very trusting and good-natured.

People can train guinea pigs to respond to a nickname.

They greet humans with a joyful whistle, can purr, and make different sounds when touched.

For guinea pigs, falls are dangerous even from a low height.

There are various classifications of guinea pig breeds.

One of the most common classifications is the division of guinea pigs into three large groups – long-haired, short-haired, and rare.

Care

Guinea pigs love cleanliness, so you have to take care of their fur.

You shouldn’t bathe your guinea pig often; instead, comb them to help them remove superfluous pollution and the fallen-out hairs.

It’s important regularly to comb long-haired pigs because they’re not able to take care of their hair to the fullest.

Also, it is necessary to trim the claws of your guinea pigs because, if they grow too much, they will severely injure your pet’s paws.

A guinea pig’s teeth grow throughout its life.

Occasionally (every 2-3 months), take your pet to a veterinarian to determine if your pet’s teeth need trimming.

As a pet owner, you also have to clean your pet’s cage regularly and make sure that the floor is clean and filled with unsoiled pressed sawdust, wood shavings, or cat litter filler.

However, be careful!

Some guinea pigs chew sawdust, which can cause constipation and further complications.

Also, softwood sawdust can cause allergies manifested by sneezing and itchiness.

The average lifespan of guinea pigs is between 5 and 7 years but with proper care and housing conditions, guinea pigs can live longer, up to 10 years.

All potential and existing guinea pig owners should keep in mind that this animal is a strict vegetarian.

Guinea pigs cannot digest meat and cooked food.

Any food other than fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens, fruits, and specially designed commercial food for guinea pigs can cause irreparable damage or kill these cute rodents.

Food

Quality grass hay is the main food for guinea pigs, which should be available to them at all times.

The best hay is timothy hay as it’s high in fiber and your pet can easily digest it.

Likewise, the nutritional value of timothy hay is much better compared to other grass hay.

Because of the special structure of a guinea pig’s digestive system, your pet can eat often and in small portions.

Hay normalizes the digestive tract of your pet and keeps the length of your pet’s teeth under control.

Combine timothy hay or alfalfa with fresh vegetables and fruits, and your pet will get all the necessary nutrients.

Another good option (but certainly not as good as fresh vegetables and hay) is commercial food for guinea pigs, grain feed, or compound feed.

It’s a special mixture you can buy at pet stores or online.

Depending on the manufacturer, the feed may include wheat, barley, sunflower seeds, grain granules, which are mostly enriched with vitamins, especially vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient for these pets.

You should carefully read the recommendations for feeding indicated on the packaging of the ready-made food.

Usually, you should give grain feed to your pet twice a day in small portions (one or two tablespoons).

Owners, make sure to feed pregnant and lactating females 3-4 times a day.

Important Facts About Guinea Pig Food

It’s really important to feed your pet with fresh vegetables and make sure to always wash them thoroughly.

Likewise, you need to know that guinea pigs mostly feed on leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, etc.

However, be mindful of the amount of food you are giving to your pet as in larger quantities all food is harmful to them.

For instance, cabbage in larger quantities can cause bloating (and should never be given to pregnant guinea pigs), and carrots are high in sugar, so they can also negatively affect the health of your pet.

Therefore, whichever type of vegetables and fruits you are giving to your guinea pig, combine them and never give one type of food more than two to three times a week.

Water

A drinking bowl with clean water should be installed in the cage – even if it seems that the animal does not drink.

If one pig lives in the cage, the volume of the drinker should be 250 ml.

Yet, pay attention, as pregnant and nursing females drink more fluids.

As adult guinea pigs cannot absorb lactose, do not attempt to give them any other fluid apart from fresh, clean water.

Vitamin C

Guinea pigs need a diet rich in vitamin C.

Guinea pigs, just like humans, don’t have the physical ability to produce vitamin C.

They must receive an external source of vitamin C through fruits and vegetables.

If a guinea pig does not get enough vitamin C in its diet, it will vulnerable to several health conditions, so always keep this in mind.

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

Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, which is potentially fatal to your pet.

Fruits and Vegetables

Although vegetables and fruits are safe for human consumption, that is not always the case when you want to feed your guinea pig.

Your guinea pig’s diet is equally simple and complex.

Firstly, you should know that the guinea pig is a herbivore that feeds primarily on grass, timothy hay, alfalfa hay, and dry legumes, which all provide a significant contribution of fiber important for intestinal motility.

Secondly, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for your pet.

In the wild, guinea pigs do not eat cereals or fruit, so we must limit the consumption of this type of food.

Don’t forget to eliminate anything your pet hasn’t eaten.

Also, among the fruits that should be avoided is citrus.

Even oranges are not the best idea because of their acidity.

Two to three tiny bites are perfectly fine but more than is not safe for your pet.

We can offer our guinea pig pieces of fruit two to four times a week.

Of course, always wash vegetables and fruits and cut them into small pieces before giving them to your guinea pig.

What Are the Recommended Fruits for Guinea Pigs?

Some of the fruits you can safely give to your guinea pig include:

  • Apples
  • Watermelons
  • Pears
  • Melons
  • Peaches
  • Pineapples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Papayas
  • Ripened tomatoes

You can find a more extensive list here.

Be careful with tomatoes, as guinea pigs cannot process this unripened fruit, its stems or leaves.

Also, avoid excess fruit in the guinea pig’s diet because of their high sugar content.

The most recommended fruit is undoubtedly the apple, although pineapples and bananas can also be recommended.

Treat fruits like you would treat candies to an obese child – in really small amounts and occasionally.

What Are the Vegetables Recommended for Guinea Pigs?

In nature, guinea pigs would feed mainly on hay, fresh grass, and some green plants.

For that reason, your guinea pig’s diet should revolve around grass, especially timothy hay, alfalfa, and commercial pellets that prevent the overgrowth of the guinea pig’s teeth.

You have to offer your guinea pig a daily dose of vegetables.

Remember to wash the food before offering it to your pet, and cut it into small pieces.

Vegetables a guinea pig can eat are:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Escarole
  • Arugula
  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Green pepper
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green cabbage
  • Sprouted alfalfa
  • Peppers
  • Celery
  • Pumpkin
  • Broccoli (leaves and stem)
  • Artichoke
  • Swiss Chard
  • Carrots
  • Green beans

Always make sure the food is clean and fresh.

Likewise, always remove all the seeds and stems before giving natural food to your pets.

Peppers either yellow, green, or red, all give a healthy snack for guinea pigs.

The most recommended vegetables are broccoli, cabbage, and a mixture of tender shoots.

However, make sure that the amount of food you are offering is appropriate.

For instance, your guinea pig might love carrots and eat a whole carrot in a short time.

Yet, carrots are high in sugar, so don’t give them too much.

Similarly, they love lettuce, but lettuce in larger quantities can be dangerous for your guinea pig because of the nitrates it contains.

That is also the case with other vegetables that are on the list of safe foods your guinea pigs can consume without detrimental effects on their health.

For instance, in larger quantities, cabbage can cause diarrhea while cauliflower causes gas and discomfort.

Also, every day you should vary the mixture of vegetables you are offering to your guinea pig.

About Parsley

Parsley is high in vitamin C and guinea pigs love it.

But, be careful!

Parsley can be toxic.

It’s almost impossible for people to get drunk with parsley, but guinea pigs weigh much less.

What Type of Food a Guinea Pig Shouldn’t Eat?

Vegetables prohibited in your guinea pig’s diet include:

  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Spicy vegetables such as chili peppers, hot peppers
  • Citrus oranges or tangerines are high in vitamin C, but they can cause heartburn or flatulence
  • Beets or fruits with a high sugar content: sugar is not good for guinea pigs, so better avoid it
  • Fruit seeds such as those in apples or grapes
  • Eggs, dairy products, etc.

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 food and treats.

Although guinea pigs like to eat a variety of foods, stick only to the food you know is safe for your guinea pig.

It’s known that the products listed below cause damage to the stomach, serious health problems, or even be fatal for your guinea pig.

But no matter how mild you think the symptoms may be, it’s best to avoid these foods altogether.

This is not a complete list by any means, but here are some foods that a guinea pig should not eat:

  • Spicy food – chili, spices, etc.
  • Food specially designed for other animals – do not cut corners and feed guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, or any other household food.
  • Foods that are high in sugar such as:
    • cakes
    • donuts
    • and other medicine
    • chocolate
    • caffeine
    • dairy products
    • meat
    • cooked food

Can My Guinea Pig Eat Grains?

You should never feed your guinea pig with seeds.

And that is what grains are.

A grain is a dry seed harvested for human or animal consumption.

Another definition claims that grains are plants that produce dry edible seeds.

Yet, don’t feed your guinea pig with seeds and grains because they present a choking hazard for them.

As already stated, the main food source of your guinea pig should be timothy hay, alfalfa, guinea pig pellets, fresh vegetables, and fruits (especially leafy greens), all in moderate amounts.

Still, your guinea pig should have an unlimited supply of timothy hay to chew on.

Also, you might consider feeding your pet with guinea pig pellets or granules.

As a rule, herbal granules contain dried fruits and vegetables.

Not all guinea pigs will eat granules, especially if their diet includes wholesome grass and hay.

The best diet for your pet is natural food: grass, hay, fruits, and vegetables.

Prefer giving green forages in the morning

The bowl with dry food should be in the cage constantly.

Green and succulent foods should be removed as soon as they show signs of wilting or spoilage.

Pregnant and lactating females should receive an increased dosage of food one and a half to two times.

Accordingly, the amount of water they consume also increases.

Guinea pigs need mineral salt.

Your pet gnaws or licks it as needed.

Vegetables are very important in the diet of a guinea pig.

In general, the richest vegetables in vitamin C are peppers, parsley, celery, spinach, cauliflower, cheese, zucchini, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lettuce, and lettuce.

Tomato pepper is one of the vegetables with the most vitamin C, much more than oranges or kiwis.

However, we must remember that green leafy vegetables should be given in larger quantities than other types of vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, or carrots.

Among the fruits and vegetables suitable for the diet of guinea pigs are the above-mentioned plus apple, melon, watermelon, banana, peach or peach, blueberry, endive, turnip greens, and more.

Fruit should be only a small part of the guinea pig’s diet.

Hay and Herbs

The main food of guinea pigs is hay, which should always be in the cage.

Hay normalizes the gastrointestinal tract of the animal.

Together with hard grain, it helps your guinea pig grind its teeth to prevent them from overgrowing too much.

Guinea pigs are rodents, their teeth grow all their lives.

If they don’t grind their incisors, the teeth will continue to grow and prevent the animal from closing its mouth and chew food.

Besides, it will cause pain to your pet.

It will stop eating and can die of starvation.

Guinea pigs can be fed many types of herbs, such as dandelions, plantain, clover, nettle, alfalfa, chamomile, yarrow, bird’s-foot trefoil (popularly – knotweed), spinach, etc.

From spicy herbs, pigs eat parsley, dill, and celery.

But parsley is contraindicated in pregnant pigs.

You should never offer your pet herbs such as anemone, shot, poisonous and burning yolk, marsh marigold, purslane, wrestler, poppy, celandine, mustard, and radish.

Others include pupa, milestone poisonous, hemlock, sedge, bleach, dope, hellebore, specimens, lily of the valley, etc.

If you are unsure about the type of herb your pet can safely eat, consult a veterinarian and never feed it with any other plants, fruits, or vegetables aside from the safe ones.

General Tips on Guinea Pigs

Here are some basic tips to follow and make sure that the diet of your pet adequate and that you are meeting all of its nutritional needs.

  • Make sure your guinea pig always has fresh and clean water
  • Pay special attention to water in winter, as it can freeze if the environment is very cold
  • Choose quality hay, fresh and dust-free
  • Guinea pigs should have unlimited fresh hay
  • Commercial pellets contain the necessary amount of vitamin C and must be introduced following the packaging instructions provided by the manufacturer
  • 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 guinea pig stops drinking and eating, go to the vet immediately
  • Guinea pigs feed on their manure, this is a perfectly normal behavior
  • Against overweight or weight loss in guinea pigs, adjust the diet of your guinea pig if necessary

When a guinea pig is frightened by something, it usually runs, as fast as it can, to the nearest dark corner, trying to find some secret place or bury itself.

In this case, the escape is a protective reaction.

If the animal cannot find shelter, it escapes as quickly and as far as possible.

If all paths to escape are cut off, it stops, standing back to the wall, and freezes in motion.

You will probably have a chance to watch all these reactions when you try to catch a new pet you have just released for a walk at your home.

It will take time for you to get to know your pet and vice versa.

Once you establish a bond with your guinea pig, you will see reactions that are drastically different.

Your pet will jump up and down in joy.

This is also a common behavior, especially in young guinea pigs.

Jumping up and down is sometimes accompanied by squeaks and is commonly known as pop-corning.

Guinea pigs need very little time to sleep and, although it’s considered a daytime animal, it’s also active for much of the night.

They sleep only four to six hours a day.

Be careful if you feed your pet irrationally, i.e offer too many fruits or vegetables, and too little dry food, you can cause much harm to your pet.

Final Thoughts

From all the above, it’s clear that keeping a guinea pig requires much knowledge, without which the life of your pet will be cut short.

So, can you give too much food to your guinea pig?

The answer is yes, you can give too much food to your guinea pig but the consequences can be lethal to your pet.

You can overfeed your pet every day with certain nutrients that are not safe for guinea pigs.

Therefore, don’t overfeed your guinea pig.

A guinea pig feeding on the right amount of nutrients will certainly stay healthy and fit for a long time.

For that reason, even if a particular food is on the approved list, always pay attention to the quantity of food and of the nutritional value of that food.

Combine food with a different nutritional value to make sure that your guinea pigs get all the nutrients they need.

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