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Feeding a Guinea Pig

April 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 202

In order to achieve optimal guinea pig performance, three (3) things must be available 24/7 for your pet:

1. Water

2. Grass Hay

3. Pellets

Also, it is highly recommended to provide your guinea pig with the following:

4. Vegetables

5. Fruits

6. Vitamin C

NOTE: Guinea pigs have a sensitive digestive system which is easily upset. Always introduce new foods slowly and patiently. Begin with a very small piece, and if they like it, keep increasing the amount a little for the next serving.

1. Water

Guinea Pigs require constant supply of clean, daily fresh, room-temperature plain water for optimal performance.

  • Avoid distilled water (it does not provide minerals that are essential to important body functions)
  • Avoid water high in minerals (especially calcium)
  • Avoid putting medications, vitamins or any other supplements in water
  • Untreated tap water is usually not recommended (possibility of chlorine and heavy metal contamination), but this depends on the quality of your home water distribution which can be tested
  • Unflavored bottled drinking water or fresh spring water is recommended
  • Provide water in a cage-mounted drip bottle (to prevent contamination and/or spilling, which is usual for dish servings).
  • Clean the drip bottle nozzle frequently (hay and pellet gunk can breed harmful bacteria and clog the water flow if not cleaned regularly)

2. Hay

Guinea pigs are grazing animals. It is highly recommended to provide your pet with unlimited amounts of grass hay, primarily for three reasons:

  1. Their teeth are continually growing so they need to be constantly grazing and grinding (hay) to prevent teeth from over growing
  2. Eating the long hay strands keeps their digestive system moving and in good health
  3. Hay does not contribute significantly to obesity as it is a modest source of protein and nutrients

NOTE: Pellets are not a substitute for hay. Lack of hay can lead to misalignment of the teeth that may require surgical correction, and gastrointestinal stasis - shutting down of the digestive tract which often leads to guinea pig death.

3. Pellets

  • Provide your guinea pig with about 1/4 - 1/8 cup of plain, dye free guinea pig pellets
  • You can serve it in a small, relatively heavy ceramic bowl (to prevent tipping)
  • It is recommended to buy pellets formulated with vitamin C
  • Store pellets in a dry, cool, dark place to preserve the potency of the vitamin C
  • Always look on for an expiration date to insure product freshness
  • Avoid pellets that use animal byproducts and those whose primary ingredient is corn
  • Do not feed other small animal pellets (like rabbit pellets) because the vitamin content is not the same, and can be harmful to your pet
  • Pellets are not a substitute for hay!

4. Vegetables

  • Feed your guinea pig primarily green leafy vegetables
  • Some vegetables can be provided few times a day, some few times a week
  • It is recommended to remove uneaten vegetables to prevent spoiling/rottening
  • Do not feed wilted or spoiled food
  • Don't feed your guinea pig everyday the same vegetables: Variety is the key to maintaining guinea pigs health
  • Be cautious about vegetables from the freezer - if food is too cold, a guinea pig can get diarrhoea

4.1 Vegetables that are recommended for everyday consumption:

  • Carrots: Both the root and the green tops are recommended
  • Cucumber: Little nutritional value, but high water content - especially appreciated in summer
  • Bell Peppers: Green/Red/Yellow/Orange(red yellow and orange are high in calcium, so limit those. Remove seeds)
  • Leafy greens: Green leaf lettuce, Cilantro, Red leaf lettuce, Escarole, Swiss chard, Curly endive, Romaine (only small amounts recommended - it has a poor calcium/phosphorus ratio that can cause kidney stone problems), Spinach (small amounts recommended to avoid potential kidney stone problems)
  • NOT recommended: iceberg (high in nitrates and low in nutrients, can cause diarrhea if given in excess)
  • NOT recommended: any vegetable in the cabbage family (can cause bloat), or beet greens (too high in oxalates)

4.2 Vegetables that are recommended for occasional consumption (few times weekly):

  • Broccoli leaves and peeled broccoli stem: Related to the cabbage family, so small doses recommended
  • Cauliflower: Related to the cabbage family, so small doses recommended
  • Kale: Related to the cabbage family, so small doses recommended
  • Chinese Cabbage/pak-choi: Related to the cabbage family, so small doses recommended
  • Corn silks and husks: When in season
  • Parsley: Very high in calcium, so caution is recommended if guinea pig is prone to developing bladder stones
  • Forages like chickweed, dandelions, and young clover
  • Celery: Cut into small pieces as it is very stringy, to avoid choking
  • Fresh Grass: Clean, pesticide-free, not soiled by dogs/cats/etc, NOT cut by a lawn mower
  • Tomato: Remove the poisonous tomato top (green part). Remove seeds if using a slice from a larger tomato
  • Beetroot: Recommended in raw form rather than pickled. High in antioxidants and other nutrients. Feeding too often may result in red urine

5. Fruits

NOTE: Many fruits are full of natural sugar, have fruit acid and possible low Ca:P ratio, which could lead to bladder problems. To avoid your guinea pig getting a sore mouth, cut all fruit into small pieces and just give as an occasional treat.

Following fruits are recommended for occasional consumption:

  • Apple: Thin wedge, include peel, REMOVE SEEDS which contain arsenic
  • Pear: Thin wedge, include peel, no seeds
  • Apricot: Dried, a couple small pieces
  • Banana: Relatively low in vitamin C but rich in other nutrients
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Seedless Grapes or Raisins: NOT BOTH, and very sparingly
  • Orange
  • Strawberries: Another popular summer fruit, also very high in vitamin C
  • Watermelon
  • Cranberries: very high in vitamin C; too much can cause STOMACH UPSET
  • Grapefruit: Pink, red, and white varieties are all good sources of vitamin C, but they can be too sour for some pigs. They are high in WATER content so are refreshing in warm weather.
  • Kiwi: Extremely high in vitamin C and considered very good for cavies
  • Mango: High water content makes it very refreshing
  • Raspberries

5.1 Fruits to Avoid

Guinea pigs will eat most types of fruit, but some vets believe that grapes can lead to kidney disease and are best avoided. If you do decide to feed them to your pets, be sure to give them seedless grapes.

6. Vitamin C

Guinea pigs are, like humans, one of the very few mammals who can't make their own vitamin C, so they need to get it from their food and food supplements. Guinea Pigs are highly prone to getting scurvy and loss of resistance to other diseases, which is a disease caused by low levels of Vitamin C.

  • Guinea pigs need 10mg/kg to 30mg/kg or more of Vitamin C daily
  • Water drops and tang are not recommended (can even make cavies stop drinking water if they dislike the taste)
  • It is possible (depends on the many unique factors) that they receive adequate vitamin C from fresh vegetables and pellets, but not reliable

NOTE: Multivitamins are NOT recommended. Excessive amounts of fat soluble vitamins like A and D can cause serious problems for your pet.

CAUTION: Food to AVOID at All Costs:

  • Altered food: cooked, tinned, preserved, etc.
  • Pickled vegetables: sour krauts, dills, capers
  • Potatoes: skin and eyes are poisonous, very starchy, high in oxalic acid
  • Nuts, Seeds, Lentils, Beans (exception are green beans)
  • Rhubarb
  • Mushrooms
  • Cabbage
  • Red hot chilli peppers, Jalapeno peppers, Hot herbs and spices
  • Collard Greens: could cause gas
  • Bok choy
  • Dairy products, Meat, Fish, Eggs, Bread, Chocolate
  • Alcohol, Teas, Coffee, Carbonated Drinks, Fruit juices (exception can be made on sugar-free or unsweetened juices)
  • Peanut butter, cakes, cookies, baked goods
  • Iceberg lettuce: practically no nutritional value, very fibrous and watery
  • Corn kernels, Popcorn: risk of choking
  • Seeds: risk of choking
  • Tomato leaves
  • Tamarillo leaves
  • Avocado, Coconut: too high in fat
  • Taro: dangerous if eaten raw
  • Jams, jellies and fruit preserves: too high in sugar
  • Any non-guinea pig food which often contain seeds and different balance of vitamins and minerals which aren't suited for a guinea pig's dietary needs

Guinea Pig Manual ( ) provides guinea pig owners with concise, verified and easy to read instructions for guinea pig care. We keep things specific, up to date and simple.

Authors of the are information experts with 10 years of experience in dealing with information technologies and backed with a masters degree in information sciences.

Source: EzineArticles
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