Guinea Pig Nutrition

Guinea pigs naturally eat a diet of grasses, plants, vegetables and crops, which can be difficult to replicate at home. Although individual needs will depend on your guinea pig's age, lifestyle and state of health, here are the most important factors you should consider.

Guinea Pig Nutritional Requirements

Guinea pigs require moderately high levels of fibre in their food, so feeding good quality fresh hay alongside your usual brand of feed is vital.

Guinea pigs, like humans but unlike rabbits, are unable to make their own Vitamin C, and it must therefore be provided as part of their diet.

However, guinea pigs have a high Vitamin A requirement, much higher than rabbits or other rodents.

Dry foods for guinea pigs should not contain high levels of calcium as this can lead to urinary tract problems.

Guinea Pig Diet Guidelines

To ensure your guinea pig meets their nutritional requirements, their diet should be made up of grasses, plants, vegetables and crops.

Leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and kale are excellent sources of Vitamin C for your guinea pig.

There are many nutritionally balanced diets for guinea pigs on the market. Manufacturers have experts available to provide you with advice on what you should buy for your guinea pig and how much and how many times per day to feed them, so contact them directly for further advice on specific products. 

You can treat your guinea pig with small amounts of apple and strawberry.  However, guinea pigs can be greedy! They suffer from obesity if food is not monitored correctly, and obesity can result in many other health problems. The usual culprits are too many treats or too much dry food containing excess sugar.

Fresh, clean water must always be available for your guinea pig. Make sure you check their water bottle frequently to make sure it always has water, and change the water daily to ensure that it is always fresh. You should also clean their water bottle regularly and check that your guinea pig can reach and drink from the bottle with ease.

A good sign of a healthy guinea pig is when he/she is eating every day and passing plenty of dry droppings. Always keep an eye on how much your guinea pig eats and drinks. If you notice that your pet's eating/drinking habits change or the droppings get smaller or are no longer being produced, contact your vet straight away, as your pet may be seriously ill.

It is not advisable to make sudden changes to your guinea pig’s diet as this may make them very ill. Always introduce new diets gradually.

The Importance of Hay in a Guinea Pig's Diet

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Unsafe Foods for Guinea Pigs

There are a number of foods that are poisonous to guinea pigs, so always double-check before you feed them. Included in this list of unsafe food for guinea pigs are:

  • Potato
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomato leaves
  • Buttercups
  • Daffodils
  • Poppies
  • Tulips

The list is not exhaustive, and if in doubt as to whether something is safe to feed, it is best to avoid.

Looking after your guinea pig's teeth

Guinea pigs, rabbits and chinchillas have teeth which grow continually. If fed unsuitable foods, they fail to wear their teeth sufficiently, which can lead to painful dental conditions. Plenty of hay and grass in their diet is important to help ensure their teeth are sufficiently worn down. Failure to feed them with the right diet can result in serious dental disease.