In this list, I’ve compiled ten foods that your guinea pig can eat every day. However, this doesn’t mean that these are the only foods you should feed your guinea pigs daily. Variety is essential for guinea pigs.
It’s best to provide different types of vegetables on a rotational basis. It’s a good idea to pick a handful of staple veggies, feed them throughout the week, and then periodically mix in some other vegetables and fruits. This way, your guinea pigs get the vitamins they need from different sources.
1. Grass Hay
High quality grass hay should consist of 80% of your guinea pig’s daily diet. Hay should be freely available at all times. Some of the best kinds of hay to feed your guinea pig are timothy hay, orchard grass hay, meadow hay, and bluegrass hay. Any of these hay varieties are a great choice to feed your guinea pig. You can also switch between different types or mix them together for more variety.
It’s best to avoid feeding grain or legume hay as part of your guinea pig’s daily diet. Grain hay, such as oat hay, is higher in fat than grass hay. This can cause guinea pigs to gain weight if fed in excess. Oat hay is okay to give your guinea pig occasionally, but it shouldn’t make up the bulk of their forage.
Alfalfa is the best-known legume hay for guinea pigs. Legume hay such as alfalfa is high in calcium and should not be fed to adult guinea pigs at all. The high calcium level can cause bladder stones to develop, which is a painful condition for guinea pigs. Baby guinea pigs under six months old can safely eat alfalfa, as they need the extra calcium for their growing bones.
2. High Quality Guinea Pig Pellets
If you’re feeding a high quality pellet food, your guinea pig should only need about 1/8 cup of food per day. You don’t want to give your guinea pig free access to pellets, as this could lead to weight gain. Feeding too many pellets can also discourage your guinea pig from eating the proper amount of hay.
Pellets provide added Vitamin C, as well as other vital nutrients and minerals for your guinea pig. Be sure to choose a quality food that is formulated specifically for guinea pigs. Oxbow is a good brand. Avoid pellets with nuts, seeds, or colored pieces mixed into the food. These are fattening and can even pose a choking risk.
3. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are one of the best vegetables to feed your guinea pig every day. These peppers are also known as sweet peppers or capsicums. They are high in Vitamin C, which is essential for guinea pigs. They are also full of nutrients and low in calcium.
Some guinea pigs may not like them at first, but it’s worth being persistent because bell peppers have so many health benefits for guinea pigs. You can feed your guinea pig all colors of sweet bell peppers, including red, orange, yellow, and green. I like to rotate between different colors every day for my piggies.
Red bell peppers are the highest in Vitamin C, but they’re also the highest in sugar. For this reason, it may be best to feed the other colors more frequently and limit the red peppers to a couple of times a week. 1/8 to 1/4 of a bell pepper per pig is a good amount to feed daily.
4. Fresh Grass
Fresh grass can also be fed to your guinea pig daily. If the weather is nice, you can take your guinea pigs outside to graze. You can also hand-pick some grass to bring inside. If you take your guinea pigs outside, ensure they are safely contained in an exercise pen or enclosure of some sort. Also, stay close to supervise in case of predators nearby.
If you pick grass for your guinea pigs, make sure it’s not treated with pesticides or soiled on by other animals. Avoid picking grass and dandelions from parks or boulevards. These areas may have been treated by the city. They also may have been exposed to other animals and car exhaust fumes.
Finally, never feed your guinea pig any grass clippings from the lawnmower. These clippings are mixed with fuel from the mower. This can poison your guinea pig or cause severe stomach issues and bloat. If you take your piggies outside after cutting the grass, rake up any grass clippings and hose down the area before allowing them to graze.
You can also grow grass indoors in planters. This provides your guinea pig with a small but ever-growing supply of fresh grass. This can be especially great in winter when you can’t pick grass from outside. You can grow grass from seed or dig out a patch of thick grass from your yard and put it in a pot in the window.
Lettuce is a veggie that I feed to my guinea pigs every day and have for years. I like to rotate between green leaf, red leaf, romaine, and Boston lettuce.
Avoid feeding iceberg lettuce, as it contains virtually no nutrients and can cause diarrhea easily.
Lettuce is not a significant source of Vitamin C or other nutrients. For this reason, it’s best to supplement it with nutrient-rich vegetables like bell peppers, kale, and parsley.
However, feeding lettuce every day is not going to cause any problems for your guinea pig.
Lettuce can cause diarrhea if fed in large amounts, but this is generally not an issue. One leaf of lettuce per day is a good amount to feed. Most guinea pigs love lettuce, and it makes a great treat.
6. Dark Leafy Greens
It’s good to feed dark leafy greens daily, as they are very high in nutrients. Some of the best nutrient-rich greens for guinea pigs include dandelion, kale, collard greens, parsley, coriander/cilantro, arugula, raspberry leaves, swiss chard, red cabbage, mustard greens, and watercress.
However, these types of foods can also be high in calcium. Therefore, it’s best to feed only small amounts daily. It’s also a good idea to feed leafy greens on a rotational basis to take advantage of the different nutrients in each one.
Small amounts can be:
1 or 2 sprigs of parsley or coriander
1/4 leaf of kale, cabbage, swiss chard, or collard greens
1 or 2 dandelion or raspberry leaves
3 or 4 arugula leaves
If you’re not feeding high calcium veggies every single day, you can feed slightly higher amounts. However, keep an eye out for white powdery-looking pee stains in your guinea pig’s cage.
These are calcium deposits, indicating that your guinea pigs have too much calcium in their diet. It can also be a sign that your guinea pig is not drinking enough water. If you see these white spots, you should cut down the high calcium veggies you’re feeding.
Carrots can be fed to guinea pigs daily in small amounts without any adverse effects. Carrots contain many nutrients, but they are higher in sugar than some other veggies. For this reason, it’s best to feed them in small quantities.
I like to use shredded carrots, as it’s easy to give your guinea pigs little bite-sized treats. You should only feed one baby carrot max per day, or about 15-20 shredded carrot pieces. If your guinea pig is overweight, you’ll want to feed a bit less.
Endive is another great option to feed your guinea pig regularly. Escarole is a variety of endive and that is also safe to feed daily. Endive looks similar to lettuce and is rich in many vitamins.
Endive is also low in calcium, phosphorus, and sugar, which is important to prevent stones and weight gain in guinea pigs. It’s not a super high source of Vitamin C, so be sure to supplement with veggies high in Vitamin C if you feed endive frequently.
Zucchini, also known as courgette, is another good staple veggie to feed your guinea pig. Zucchini has high fiber and Vitamin C levels, and it’s low in sugar, calcium, and oxalates. Guinea pigs can eat a couple of slices of this veggie per day.
As with most veggies, it can cause diarrhea if fed in substantial quantities all at once. Guinea pigs can eat zucchini with the skin on or off. Some guinea pigs don’t mind the skin, and others will only eat the flesh inside.
Cucumber can also be fed to your guinea pig 2-3 times a week. However, cucumbers have a higher water content, so it’s best not to offer several slices at once.
10. Vitamin C Cookies
Most store-bought treats are generally best avoided. However, Oxbow makes a great Vitamin C supplement that comes in a biscuit treat form. These treats also provide your guinea pig with extra Vitamin C daily. I always feed one of these to my piggies daily, as guinea pigs can never have too much Vitamin C. Most guinea pigs love them and get super excited for these treats.
It’s best to avoid any kind of Vitamin C drops that you add to your guinea pig’s drinking water. These lose their potency very quickly. They also change the water’s taste, which can turn some guinea pigs off drinking from their bottle. Edible supplements or veggies are the best sources of Vitamin C for guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs can have up to 1 cup of vegetables per day. However, this is a maximum, and it’s perfectly fine to feed a bit less than this. I typically feed between 1/2 cup to 1 cup of veggies. The two most essential things your guinea pig needs are unlimited access to grass hay and an appropriate amount of Vitamin C in their diet.
Remember to introduce unfamiliar foods slowly to avoid stomach upset or diarrhea in your guinea pig. Offer small amounts, and offer just one new food at a time. Even though the foods in this list are safe to feed daily, feeding a variety of different veggies is still vital to your guinea pig’s health. Avoid going overboard with any one food, and try to mix it up when you can.