While guinea pigs are easy to keep happy, maintaining a healthy diet is essential. The necessary components of guinea pig diets are readily available. You just need to plan for them the same way you plan your own meals.
General Guinea Pig Diets
Guinea pigs are herbivores and foragers. In their native habitat, they ate a wide variety of grasses to meet their nutritional needs. Meanwhile, in captivity, your guinea pigs rely on you to supply the necessary components. Your local pet supply store can help.
Guinea pig diets make grasses a necessary component. In most cases, it translates to a hay-based pellet. There are pellets available at most price points, though you should do your research. Additionally, your guinea pigs may not like the food you initially provide. Be prepared to swap it out if necessary.
The trick with pellets is to find the right nutritional balance. For example, you want to avoid giving your guinea pig added sugars. Your guinea pig also needs the correct amount of protein and fiber for food to process through their digestive tract. Plus, you need to avoid giving your guinea pig seed in their food. A balanced pellet is one of the necessary components of guinea pig diets.
Hay is the closest component to a natural guinea pig diet you can offer your guinea pigs. Your guinea pig’s cage can have a hay holder suspended off the side or roof if you want to provide hay continuously. Otherwise, your guinea pig can eat the hay off the floor if you put fresh offerings in each day.
The trick with hay is staying away from alfalfa and clover. Alfalfa often overwhelms your guinea pig’s nutritional needs. Unfortunately, excesses in nutrition components often leave buildups in your guinea pig. These can cause significant medical problems over time.
Like humans, your guinea pig does not make its own vitamin C, nor can it store it for long. Instead, your guinea pig relies on the diets you provide. Typically, supplying vitamin C in the form of fresh vegetables is enough, plus many pellets are enriched. There are also water-soluble supplements, but these tend to lead to excessive levels.
Treats are another necessary component of guinea pig diets. Typically, dark leafy greens are a fantastic choice, especially if you rotate which ones you feed. You can also offer small amounts of bell peppers and squash. If you want to provide fruits, make sure you offer only a single segment or piece since that’s a lot of sugar for piggles.
The final necessary component of guinea pig diets is water. Your guinea pig should always have unlimited access to clean water, ideally with at least one water change a day. This water allows your guinea pig to process food healthily, in addition to hydration.