Guinea Pig Diet | How To Get It Right and What To Avoid

Guinea pigs are herbivores, or as we like to call them, vegetable-munching-fruit-noshing balls of fluff. But to keep your cavy as healthy as possible, it is essential to know which foods to feed it, and which should be left off the menu altogether.

In this article, we look at how to get your guinea pig’s diet right so that it can live a happy and healthy life.

What Should I Feed My Guinea Pig Daily?

Guinea pigs love nothing more than eating and, in the wild, will spend their waking hours foraging for food and chewing on plants. But life for pet piggies is much easier. And rather than having to run around in search of food all day, their meals arrive in a bowl.

Unfortunately, this can lead to obesity and other associated health issues, including bumblefoot, heart disease and arthritis. Understanding what to feed your guinea pig daily and how much to feed it is essential.

Your guinea pig’s diet should consist of:

  • Good-quality hay or grass that it can nibble on all day. Not only does this aid digestion, but it is also good for your cavy’s teeth.
  • Nuggets or pellets should also be included. For feeding guidelines, check the packaging or ask your vet for advice.
  • Fresh vegetables are a must. However, serving sizes should be small (think a teacup size).

Tip: You can include fruit in your piggy’s diet, BUT (and it’s a BIG BUT) this should only be done once a week or so. Too much sugar isn’t good for your guinea pig’s teeth or weight!

Is There A Feeding Guide For Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs’ dietary requirements will vary according to their age, sex and overall health, but as a general rule of thumb, their diet should consist of:

  • 80% hay – grass and hay is an essential part of a guinea pig’s diet. Not only does it help with digestion, but it also helps wear down its teeth. Hay can be used throughout the hutch, and you can also hang it up to make feeding time more fun.
  • 10% guinea pig nuggets – nuggets or pellets are also important. Always check that the pellets you choose for your guinea pig aren’t high in calcium, as this can cause bladder and kidney stones.
  • 10% vegetables and leafy greens – we all need fresh vegetables in our diet, and your guinea pig is no different. Carry on reading to find out which ones are best for your cavy, and which ones should be avoided.

What Can Guinea Pigs Eat List

So we know guinea pigs can eat vegetables and fruit. But which are safe and which ones should be avoided?

Safe fruit and vegetables for guinea pigs

  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Ripe tomatoes  (never give your guinea pig unripe tomatoes or the stem or leaves)
  • Berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries)
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Carrots and carrot tops
  • Celery
  • Parsnip
  • Dill
  • Dandelion
  • Coriander
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Watercress
  • Turnips
  • Lettuce (except iceberg)

Unsafe food for guinea pigs

Some foods are unsafe for guinea pigs. Never ever give your cavy:

  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Avocado
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Onion
  • Rhubarb
  • Coconut

You should also avoid giving your guinea pig ‘human’ food of any kind, even if it is considered safe. For your pet’s health and your peace of mind, your best bet is to stick to fresh vegetables, fruits, pellets or nuggets and hay.

Why Is A Balanced Diet Important For Guinea Pigs?

In the same way we need a balanced diet to stay healthy, so do guinea pigs. Without fibre-rich pellets and vegetables, your cavy can quickly gain weight and become obese. This can then lead to a whole range of issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac and digestive problems.

Want to find out more about your piggy’ weight and how to monitor it? Take a look at this article.

How Important Is Vitamin C In A Guinea Pig’s Diet

Cavies need vitamin C to stay healthy. Without this essential vitamin, they can become seriously ill. But because guinea pigs cannot make it, they need to get it from specially formulated nuggets, vegetables and fruit or from supplements.

What Should My Guinea Pig’s Feeding Schedule Look Like?

It is essential to vary your guinea pig’s diet as much as possible. But how often should you feed your pet, and how do you ensure it is getting well-balanced, nutritional meals?

Guinea pigs love nothing more than eating and, in the wild, will spend their waking hours foraging for food and chewing on plants. Click To Tweet

Take a look at our suggested feeding schedule. While the suggested veggie and fruit intake is merely a guideline, your piggy must have nuggets, hay and water available throughout the day.

Monday

  • Nuggets, hay and water
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Apple slice

Tuesday

  • Nuggets, hay and water
  • Celery
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cucumber

Wednesday

  • Nuggets, hay and water
  • Red pepper
  • Coriander
  • Broccoli
  • Selection of berries

Thursday

  • Nuggets, hay and water
  • Cabbage
  • Parsnip
  • Watercress

Friday

  • Nuggets, hay and water
  • Asparagus
  • Ripe tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Banana

Saturday

  • Nuggets, hay and water
  • Dill
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Romaine lettuce

Sunday

  • Nuggets, hay and waterCarrots
  • Watercress
  • Cucumber
  • Slice of cantaloupe

Tip: When introducing new food to your cavy, do it gradually. Sudden changes to its diet can cause an upset tummy and diarrhoea.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Treats?

Guinea pigs don’t need treats and definitely shouldn’t be dishing these out too often. However, a well-timed snack every now and then is a great way to tame your piggy, teach it a new trick or reinforce positive behaviour.

Our favourite go-to treats and snacks are:

Is It Normal For My Guinea Pig To Eat Its Own Poop?

Okay, while this may seem somewhat gross, your guinea pig does eat its own poop. But before you freak out completely, we need to explain this in a bit more detail. You see, cavies produce two different types of poop. The first kind, which you will have definitely seen in the hutch, is ‘real’ poop. It is usually brown in colour and oval-shaped and is a waste product.

The second type of poo is called caecals. They contain loads of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B and vitamin K. It is these nutrient-rich poo nuggets that your guinea pig is actually eating. They are crucial for your cavy’s health and well-being.

Does Age Affect My Guinea Pig’s Diet?

Discussing age is always a sensitive subject, even for guinea pigs. But yes, as your cavy gets older, its metabolism slows down. This means your guinea pig will be less active and, as a result, require less food. Your senior piggy should still have access to good-quality hay, such as Timothy hay, pellets and healthy vegetables.

Your Guinea Pig’s Diet – Important Dos and Dont’s At A Glance

We get it! All this information about your pet’s diet is a lot to swallow (#cheesypun #facepalm), which is why we’ve condensed the most important bits in this Dos and Don’ts section.

  • Do buy your guinea pig the best food you can afford. If you can, avoid buying pellets and treats from pet shops. These products often contain artificial colours, unhealthy sugars and plenty of fillers.
  • Don’t stress yourself out with too many choices. Keep it simple by feeding your piggy fibre-rich pellets, hay, a variety of vegetables and leafy greens, as well as the occasional piece of fruit.
  • Do go easy on the snack. As much as guinea pigs love snacks, these should only be given as a treat every now and then.
  • Don’t forget water! Always make sure your guinea pig has access to fresh (and clean) drinking water at all times. We recommend using a bottle with a metal spout, rather than a bowl that can be knocked over.
  • Do introduce new foods to your piggy gradually. A sudden change in pellets, hay or fresh veggies can cause an upset tummy.
  • Don’t worry if your guinea pig doesn’t like a particular food. Just like us, cavies have their personal preferences, and what one piggy likes, another will loathe. 

Why don’t you tell us what your piggy’s favourite food is? Is there a particular fruit or vegetable that has your cavy wheeking with delight? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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4 Responses

  1. Useful read, thank you! Our guinea pigs are fond of (seedless) grapes but I see you say never to give these. Can you clarify why not please? Ours are also keen on mint and lemon balm as well as lavender from the garden. It would be great to have some guidance on garden plants they can and can’t eat too – our lawn has quite a few creeping plants that aren’t grass in and I’m not sure if they are ok.

    1. Ooh might have to try some herbs!
      Kale and red capsicum (pepper) for our two little fluffballs. The weeking when they hear the kale bag coming from the fridge… omg 🤣

  2. You don’t mention peppers which my piggies love. Is it okay to feed them peppers? I usually get a variety pack of the small peppers.

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