Guinea Pig Diet
Guinea Pig Diet
To ensure that your cavy lives a long, happy and prosperous life it is essential that your cavy maintains a healthy diet. A typical guinea pig diet consists of fresh water, hay, pellets, vitamin C and some fresh vegetables.
There are a few ways that your cavy gets Vitamin C. Guinea Pigs get Vitamin C from eating fresh vegetables and pellets; however this may not be enough. Guinea Pigs need approximately 10-30 mg of Vitamin C on a daily basis to prevent getting scurvy. If you feel that your guinea pig is not getting enough Vitamin C through their regular diet than we recommend giving them a small dosage of liquid vitamin C, or break up a small chewable vitamin C tablet and feed it to them directly.
It is important not to mix Vitamin C (or any supplements, or medications) in with the guinea pigs water. Vitamin C will change the flavor of the water and guinea pigs will not drink it. Furthermore, if they do drink it, they may not be drinking enough of it.
Change the water daily, replenish with fresh cold water; water from the faucet works just fine. You want to avoid distilled water, water with too much calcium in it and water with a high mineral content. The best way to supply the water is by using a vertical hanging water bottle to prevent spills and contamination.
Guinea Pig food should be stored in a small ceramic, hard plastic bowl or in a small food storage bin specifically designed for small animals. It is recommended that Guinea Pig Food gets changed daily and the bowl is cleaned daily as well. For this reason it is good to have 2-3 bowls for daily replenishment.
When selecting the proper food for your cavy read the ingredients carefully. Look for a guinea pig pellet food that has vitamin C in it, and avoid foods with a high amount of corn. Typically a cavy should eat 1/8 of a cup of pellets a day (check the package for recommended serving sizes) along with hay and some vegetables. Food should be stored in a cool dark place for proper preservation of freshness.
Most guinea pig pellets are primarily alfalfa which is great for young guinea pigs, and pregnant guinea pigs. Once your cavy has reached a year old switching to Timothy pellets is a good idea as it is lower in calcium which will prevent any issues with urinary-tract infections.
An adequate amount of hay should always be provided at all times and is good for guinea pigs of all ages. Hay is not a substitute for pellets, and pellets are not a substitute for hay. Hay is essential to the diet of a guinea pig because it helps them naturally digest their food better, increase their fiber intake and reduce urinary-tract infections. A simple wire rack can be used to house the hay in the guinea pig cage.
There are two main types of Hay; alfalfa hay which is great for young guinea pigs and malnourished, pregnant and/or nursing cavyís and timothy hay which is best for adult guinea pigs. Alfalfa has a high amount of calcium so it should only be given to adult guinea pigs once in awhile as a treat.
One of the biggest cornerstones in your guinea pigs diet is fresh vegetables. Cavies should slowly be introduced to fresh vegetables (to avoid digestive problems), once cavies are familiar with vegetables you can start to mix a variety of them into your cavyís diet.
Vegetables that guinea pigs can eat:
Romaine lettuce, green and red pepper, spinach, carrots, tomatos, cantaloupe, dandelion greens, corn husks, clover, and many more.
This is just a short list of the vegetables your cavy can eat, but be creative there are many more that are not on this list that your guinea pig may really enjoy. Itís important that the vegetables you serve your guinea pig are fresh; donít give them spoiled/wilted foods.
Nutrition is single most important element that can be given to your guinea pig. Nutrients are essential to your guinea pigs well being and long lived health. This is why a combination of pellets, hay, fresh water and fresh vegetables should always be supplied to your cavy. The point is, a variety of foods should be supplied at all times to give your guinea pig the best nutrients they can receive. The diet your guinea pig eats affects their energy, skin, teeth, soft coat, skin, reproductive system, and their immunity system that is needed to fight disease and infections.
What can be supplied to your cavy really depends on your beliefs, culture, traditions and most importantly the cost to obtain such nutritious foods. Not everyone can afford, or even have the availability, to supply a great deal of any of the foods we have mentioned. These foods can be costly but there are a lot of high quality products available that can take care of your guinea pigs daily nutrients while not breaking your budget.
Itís important to remember that guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning they are only supposed to eat primarily plants, and nutrients from plants. So do not feed your cavy meat, mineral wheels and dairy products. These foods can be detrimental to their health and well being.
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