A guinea pig's diet is actually more complex than most people think. Unfortunately, many pet shops and produce stores are unaware of the needs these little guys have and sell products that aren't actually good for your guinea pigs. So what is good, and what do they actually need? Hopefully we can explain it all for you here!
A good quality grassy, barley or oaten hay should make up 90% of your guinea pigs diet. Hay is high in fibre, necessary for their digestive systems to function and it helps guinea pigs to grind back their teeth, to help prevent the development of possible dental issues.
It's essential to ensure that hay is stored in a dry, cool place to minimise the chances of it becoming stale or mouldy and therefore no longer suitable for your piggies' delicate digestive system.
Hay and water should be available for your guinea pigs at all times and can be either placed in the cage, in a hay rack, hay feeder or hay bag.
Water is an incredibly important part of a guinea pig's daily diet. Ensuring that you always have a water bottle full of fresh, clean water for your piggy is essential.
Some piggies drink lots, and some little, but ensuring fresh, clean water is always available is a must.
Don't add vitamin drops to their water, as many won't drink it and this can lead to dehydration.
With so many different guinea pig mixes on the market it can be so hard to know exactly which one is actually good for your little piggies. When selecting a mix, avoid products containing beet pulp, corn, seeds, nuts, dried fruits, rice bran, sweeteners, colouring, preservatives and oils. For guinea pigs over 12 months old, select a product lower in lucerne to avoid calcium overload.
At QGPR, we make our own guinea pig food called Pig'n'Mix, which can be made lucerne free if you find that your senior piggy is susceptible to even the smallest amounts. Otherwise, we recommend Oxbow or Cavy Origins pellets, also available for sale at our open days.
Fresh fruits and vegetables play an important role in your guinea pig's diet, as they provide a natural source of fibre, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
Guinea pigs should be given around a cup each of fresh food every day, and mostly vegetables. Fruits should be given a maximum of three times per week to ensure they aren't receiving too much sugar in their diet. There are some veggies that are toxic or our piggies, too.
Follow our food guide as to what we recommend you do and don't feed guinea pigs and mix it up to keep them interested.
There is also an endless supply of treats on the market for guinea pigs - some are great and some are not.
Stick to trusted brands that make fantastic treat products for guinea pigs. At our open days, we sell a variety of treats, including from Oxbow and Smooshie Face Treats, made here in Australia.
A simple treat option that piggies often love the most is their favourite fruit or vegetable!