Feeding a Guinea Pig: What Does It Need?
What should you at least feed your guinea pigs every day to keep them healthy? What should guinea pigs absolutely not eat because they can become very ill or even die from it? Guinea pigs should be fed hay, hard food vegetables and water every day. You also have to make sure that your guinea pig gets enough vitamin C.
Hay is dried grass. It is the most important food for guinea pigs because it contains a lot of crude fiber, this is very flora in the colon and it ensures that the intestines keep moving and therefore no blockage occurs. Also, nibbling on straws keeps teeth short. There are few calories in hay. A guinea pig can eat all day long without really getting fat. Guinea pigs have a very fast metabolism so it is important that they have hay available 24 hours a day. Always choose hay that is not too dusty, as this is less tasty and not good for their airways.
In addition to hay, it is important to give your guinea pigs hard food. It is best to only feed your guinea pig pallets and not compound feed, otherwise they may start eating selectively. Many guinea pigs eat the colored items full of calories and leave the healthy kibble. When they do this, they can suffer from a vitamin and mineral deficiency. This, among other things, makes the bones of your guinea pig weaker. Some brands of good food are Union caviakorn and Supreme science selective.
Never buy general rodent food that is also suitable for rabbits and hamsters! Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C themselves, other rodents can. Vitamin C is required for the production of connective tissue and some hormones. Vitamin C is also very important in the iron and calcium balance. Guinea pigs need about 30mg of vitamin C per day. When a guinea pig is young, pregnant or sick, they need more per day, the requirement can then increase to 50mg per day. Guinea pigs need food with added Vitamin C. Good, complete guinea pig food contains 3000mg / kg of Vitamin C.
To get enough vitamin C, a guinea pig should be fed 30/40 grams of kibble per day. You can measure this precisely with a scale. If you have several guinea pigs this alone will not work, you cannot control exactly how much of the bowl of kibble each guinea pig eats. It is often good if you fill the food bowl completely once a day with 2 or 3 guinea pigs. If you notice that your guinea pigs are really getting too fat, you can always reduce this. Vitamin C overdosing is certainly not likely to happen. When a guinea pig takes in too much vitamin C, this amount will leave the body through the faeces or urine. Only when a guinea pig ingests more than 1 gram per day for a longer period of time can complications arise, often as the first loose stool.
It is best to store guinea pig food in an airtight container, so that the vitamin C is preserved as long as possible. Often 40% of the vitamin C has already disappeared as soon as your guinea pigs eat their food. There are also drops and tablets available that contain a lot of vitamin C, but as long as you give your guinea pig good hard food, this should not be necessary.
Fruits and vegetables
Vegetables and fruits can be given to the guinea pigs daily and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. You should not suddenly feed a lot of vegetables a day, always get your guinea pigs used to new types of vegetables and large amounts. Otherwise there is a good chance that the animals will suffer from diarrhea. Vegetables with a lot of moisture should not be given too often. These are for example: Lettuce, endive and tomato. Guinea pigs will nibble on vegetables from the day they are born. However, they must always stay with their mother for 4-5 weeks because there are important substances in the mother’s milk. Below are some examples that you can or cannot feed your guinea pig:
- Chicory: Most guinea pigs find it very tasty, especially the green edges will be eaten quickly. Is often not too expensive
- Carrots: Especially the carrot tops are very tasty by many guinea pigs. If you have a lot of guinea pigs, you can get a bag of fodder carrots from the farmers’ union / aveve. This gives you 25 kilos of carrots for less than 4 euros. Your guinea pigs will then have something to nibble all day long
- Lettuce: Lettuce has a very low nutritional value. Guinea pigs love it very much! Especially if your guinea pig is sick or has a dental problem, you can feed it well, lettuce is fairly easy to eat and digest
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain a lot of moisture and also a fair amount of vitamin C. The green parts of a tomato are very poisonous!
- Corn: For many guinea pigs fresh corn is the biggest treat there is, they often find the dry dark grains less tasty. The corn kernels contain a lot of energy, so if your guinea pig is very thin, it will also grow well. In the summer there are sometimes also fields in the area where corn grows, if you ask the farmer you can often take a few stalks with you. Your guinea pigs will be very grateful to you! Even the whole stem is eaten
- Endive: Actually a bit the same as lettuce. Just don’t feed only endive, your guinea pig will soon have diarrhea
- Apple, pear: It differs per guinea pig whether they like it or not. In any case, it is very healthy. Preferably sweet apples and no sour ones
- Bell pepper: Bell pepper is a real vitamin C bomb, it could hardly be any healthier. You can also feed the middle part with the seeds. The green parts are poisonous, just like with a tomato plant!
- Celery: In most guinea pigs the green leaves will disappear quickly. They do eat the stems, but it often takes a while
- Cucumber: Guinea pigs are very tasty and good for fluid intake. Very easily digestible
- Eggplant, banana, grapes, cauliflower, orange, cherries, strawberries, melon: Can be eaten, differs per guinea pig whether he likes it or not
Buttercup (poisonous), potato, zucchini, rhubarb, garlic, leek, onion, chives, beans, pea sprouts, too much clover or very wet grass. You have to be very careful when feeding cabbage. When a guinea pig eats a little cabbage nothing will happen, if a guinea pig eats too much cabbage, gas can form in the abdomen. Parsley can be fed to most guinea pigs. However, it is allowed not fed to pregnant guinea pigs, this can induce a miscarriage.
You must ensure that a guinea pig always has access to water. Water has a number of very important functions in the body:
- Blood consists largely of water. It carries nutrients as well as waste products from the body
- Water acts as a solvent. Nutrients must first be dissolved in water before they can be absorbed
- Water is needed to keep the body temperature constant. In a guinea pig this is between 37.5 and 39 degrees
- The mucous membranes need water to do their job
When a guinea pig does not take in enough water, dehydration will quickly occur. Acute dehydration mainly leads to kidney failure and then death. Chronic dehydration leads to constipation and bladder stones.
Feed to sick guinea pigs
It does not necessarily have to be Olvarit, but in any case very simple baby food. The carrot and apple + pear variants are especially suitable. You have to make sure that no extra substances have been added, such as rice, potatoes or meat. You can give this to guinea pigs with a syringe / pipette in the mouth, many guinea pigs will enjoy this very much if they can no longer eat anything due to illness or dental problems.
There is also very simple Roosvice available in the supermarket. Among other things, a variant that has a stopping effect. Dilute it with 1 / 3-1 / 4 water and give it to your guinea pig with a syringe or pipette. This will at least give the guinea pig some energy.
If a guinea pig has too long teeth / molars and it is difficult to get food out, it is an option to add water to the normal kibble (if you have pallets and no mixed food), leave it for a while and place it on a dish for your guinea pig . Many guinea pigs will eat this on their own. It is even an opportunity to mix all three things together. 1 part Roosvice, 1 part Olvarit, 2 parts water and a lot of chunks. It may look dirty, but it can save your guinea pig’s life.
If you see that your guinea pig is eating difficult and you cannot immediately go to the vet at that time, it is an option to cut all the vegetables that you normally give into very thin strips. This way the guinea pig no longer has to bite off the food with the front teeth and only the molars have to do their job. Grass blades are of course also a very good option!