The diet you feed your guinea pig is of the utmost importance. There
are a large number of commercial foods on the market and whilst these
foods contain the right nutrients, they do not have enough dietary
fibre which can lead to obesity and dental problems which can both
shorten your guinea pig’s life.
The ideal diet should consist of 70 per cent good quality hay; 5 per
cent commercial guinea pig food and 25 per cent fresh fruit and
vegetables. This almost mimics the diet your guinea pig’s ancestors
would have had in the wild and will help keep your pet in the optimum
If your guinea pig starts to chew his fur and the vet has checked him
out for mites, it could be because he is not getting enough fibre in
his diet. Your vet is the best person to advise you on this.
A diet consisting of purely dried food is not healthy as these dried
foods are full of protein and excessive protein can cause kidney
stones, leading to kidney failure. Never feed your guinea pigs rabbit
food as some commercial rabbit foods contain pellets that are toxic to
guinea pigs. Also, guinea pigs need vitamin C and rabbit foods do not
contain sufficient vitamin C for them.
Guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C and problems can occur
especially if they are old, sick, pregnant or feeding young. Fresh
greens are a good source of vitamin C but if you are concerned contact
your veterinary practice who will be able to advise you.
Apart from lots of good quality hay and a small amount of dried food,
guinea pigs love fruit, vegetables and other plants. Foods that are
good to feed include cucumber, melon, cabbage, carrots (including
leaves), cauliflower (including leaves) celery, broccoli, parsley,
green and red bell peppers, and strawberry leaves.
Guinea pigs also love grass so if you have a lawn you won’t need a
lawn mower. However, never put your guinea pig on wet grass as this
can cause him to catch a cold and never put him on grass that has been
treated with anything (e.g. weed killer or lawn treatments). This
will be toxic to your guinea pig and he could die.
Avoid apples as they can cause mouth ulcers and blistering around the
mouth due to the acid in them. Also avoid tomatoes, tomato leaves and
potatoes, which are poisonous to guinea pigs. Lettuce can cause
diarrhoea and in severe cases lead to death. Meat, cakes, biscuits,
chocolate and dairy products also need to be avoided.
Never feed your guinea pigs plants picked from the roadside as these
can be poisoned by exhaust toxins.