While Timothy hay and fortified pellets should form the basis of any guinea pig diet, it is also essential to add leafy green vegetables as sources of vitamins and minerals – particularly Vitamin C – into their daily meal plans.
Romaine lettuce and Butterhead (Cos) lettuce are suitable choices for guinea pigs; however, avoid Iceberg.
As with most animals, guinea pigs do not produce Vitamin C on their own and must get it through food sources such as pellets or fresh veggies and fruits. While pellets contain added Vitamin C supplements can be useful, fresh produce with more Vitamin C should also be considered part of an ideal diet for your guinea pig’s daily nutrition needs.
Strawberries make an excellent treat for guinea pigs and offer an abundance of Vitamin C. Unfortunately, however, strawberries contain high levels of sugar so should only be given occasionally as treats. Kiwi, orange peels and mango are other good sources of Vitamin C with moderate calcium levels which make these fruit snacks perfect weekly treats for guinea pigs.
Other great sources of Vitamin C-rich vegetables for healthy adult guinea pigs include sweet potatoes and kale. Both provide essential sources of Vitamin A and K. However, for optimal results kale should only be fed once per day – either morning or evening feedings is fine.
Guinea pigs require a high fiber diet in order to keep their gut healthy and functional, as well as regular access to grass and hay to wear down their ever-expanding incisor and cheek teeth (if not sufficiently masticated, their teeth could overgrow and cause significant pain and problems).
As guinea pigs don’t produce Vitamin C on their own, it’s vitally important that you provide them with food containing this nutrient to support their overall health and wellbeing. You should select timothy-based pellets formulated with Vitamin C as well as provide fresh vegetables rich in it like beet greens, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli kale or Swiss chard to meet this goal.
Your guinea pig’s diet should also contain limited fruit intake as too much sugary fruits can wreak havoc with intestinal bacteria balance, diarrhea and bladder issues. Instead, offer smaller portions of low-sugar fruits such as orange and kiwi on an occasional basis to satisfy their dietary needs.
Calcium is an essential mineral for guinea pigs. It helps ensure normal development, tooth and bone maintenance and supports an immune-system health in these small creatures, says a Ludington veterinarian. Vitamin C plays an essential role in absorption, so feeding plenty of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and pellets containing Vitamin C would be ideal.
Babies and pregnant guinea pigs require additional calcium during this stage, as their bodies are growing quickly. Therefore, feed your pet alfalfa hay or spinach as calcium-rich sources of nutrition.
Try feeding them mint leaves and stems; just be careful not to overdo it as mint contains high levels of Vitamin C and some calcium, so do so in moderation. Or give thyme instead as it contains high concentrations of both calcium and phosphorus – make sure it doesn’t overburden their digestive systems!
An diet high in oxalates and calcium can contribute to bladder stones in your pig, which are extremely painful for them. You can prevent further ingestion by decreasing their calcium and oxalate consumption through food, medication or any other means recommended by your vet.
Cruciferous vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage contain high concentrations of oxalates and calcium that should not form the core diet for your guinea pig. Although occasional treats should still be included occasionally if small quantities can still be tolerated; such foods often cause gas production within the digestive tract which in turn results in bloating or upset stomach symptoms for your pet.
Hay, pellets and fresh vegetables form the core of an ideal guinea pig diet. When feeding fruits or treats to your pet guinea pig, be mindful to limit how often they consume these empty calories as this could contribute to weight gain and health problems such as diabetes. Also ensure it always has access to water as dehydration can be an issue with this animal companion.