What Do Guinea Pigs Eat? Everything You Need to Know

Last updated:
Jun 11, 2023

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A common question from owners and prospective owners of guinea pigs (also known as cavies) is: what do guinea pigs eat? It’s an important question because, like all animals, your pet needs proper nutrition to stay healthy and continue thriving.

Luckily, you have options when it comes to the type of food you give your cavy, which makes it easier to decide which food will work best with his active lifestyle and what he likes best! Guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning they eat only plant material. However, there’s plenty of variety when it comes to what your guinea pig can and should eat!

In this guide, you’ll learn all about proper guinea pig nutrition so you can keep your furry friend happy and healthy with the right diet plan. First, we’ll cover their dietary needs, including how often to feed them and how much to give them at each meal.

Then we’ll dive into a list of their favorite foods as well as which foods are unsafe or inappropriate for guinea pigs to eat.

Here are some tips on how to pick the right food for your cavy.

What Do You Feed a Guinea Pig?

The idea of feeding your guinea pig a balanced diet doesn’t need to be complicated. Their diet actually consists of about 80% hay and 20% pellets, plus a variety of snacks in the form of fruits and veggies.

That means you can keep your guinea pig’s tummy happy with just a quick trip to the store.

One of the most important factors of feeding your guinea pig is ensuring that they’re receiving enough vitamin C.

Guinea pigs need between 10 and 50 mg of vitamin C per day, depending on your pet’s age and health. Your vet can give you a more specific estimate of how much vitamin C your unique guinea pig requires.

Tip: You can use high-quality vitamin C supplements for guinea pigs to ensure your piggy is getting enough of this essential nutrient!

Guinea pigs can’t create vitamin C on their own, which means that you need to provide it to them on a daily basis. You can do this by providing lots of spinach and the occasional orange in their diet.

You also have to consider that the food you provide needs to help them grind their teeth down. Guinea pigs’ teeth grow very quickly, which is why they need help keeping them down.

Best hay for guinea pigs

You may notice that there’s a wide selection of hay that you can purchase for your guinea pig. However, hay is similar to any decision you make pertaining to a product, as each brand is different and has a different quality.

Timothy hay, sold by Kaytee, is known as one of the best hay products that you can purchase for your guinea pig.

This is due to how it’s grown and what it contains. The company ensures that there are no pesticides and that the hay includes long fiber strands that will benefit your guinea pig.

Guinea pigs require hay in their diets, as hay is what facilitates their digestion and helps keep their teeth from growing too long.

Best store-bought guinea pig pellets

As you are choosing a brand for your guinea pigs, you’ll see that the higher-quality foods include a source of vitamin C. As mentioned before, your pig cannot create its own vitamin C which means that incorporating the vitamin into your pig’s diet with its storebought food will help.

Oxbow sells a wonderful blend for your guinea pig’s food that includes a portion of hay, as well. These pellets will help your pig’s immune system and supplement any nutrition your pig isn’t getting from its hay consumption.

Feeding guinea pigs fruits and vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables should only make up about 20% of your guinea pig’s diet, and it’s important not to overdo it on the fruits and vegetables.

Your guinea pig needs you to introduce new fruits and veggies very gradually, as they can develop diarrhea quite easily.

Fruit is very high in sugar, which your guinea pig doesn’t need much of. So you should only offer your pig a small portion of fruit each week.

Vegetables are where you have more wiggle room, especially vegetables that offer vitamin C, like broccoli and kale.

What Fruits and Veggies Are Safe for Guinea Pigs?

There are numerous options for fruit and veggies that will make your guinea pig very happy! Your guinea pig will need a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. This list below will help you select the best options for your pet!

Safe fruits for guinea pigs

There’s a wide selection of what fruit you can offer to your guinea pig, which makes it very easy (and fun!) to shop for your guinea pig at the grocery store.

That being said, it’s wise to only offer your pig fruit about once a week, as it’s high in sugar. You don’t want to overload their system with sugar, as they simply don’t need it.

Some safe fruits for guinea pigs include:

  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Banana
  • Kiwis
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Raspberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Pears
  • Pineapple

Safe vegetables for guinea pigs

There are more vegetables that your guinea pig can eat than vegetables that are unsafe for it. That being said, there are some vegetables that are more beneficial to your pig’s health than others.

You’ll want to focus on vegetables that are high in vitamin C so that you’re providing your pig with all the nutrients it requires.

  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Bell peppers
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Green beans

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bread and Other ‘Human’ Foods?

Guinea pigs require foods that are easy to digest and that are not a choking hazard for them. The majority of “human” foods are actually choking hazards for your pig.

Bread and a variety of other foods you might want to feed your pet aren’t toxic to them, but they do pose a threat to them in other ways.

You have to be careful about what you’re allowing your pet guinea pig to eat, and if you’re concerned, opt on the side of caution.

It’s always recommended that if you’re introducing a new food to keep a close watch over them while they eat. This way, you can know how your pig reacts to and processes the new food.

Below, you will find a list of the most common foods you should never allow your pig to eat as they are toxic to them.

Dangerous Foods for Guinea Pigs

When you are selecting fruits and veggies for your pig, you do have to be careful with your options.

There are a few options that are actually quite harmful to your family pet.

This list can help you make the best decision about what to feed your guinea pig.

Seeds are one of the most important things to look out for as they can cause tooth problems and are also a choking hazard for your guinea pig.

Foods that are dangerous for guinea pigs include:

  • Seeds
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Beans
  • Bread
  • Meat
  • Onions
  • Grains
  • Cooked Vegetables

Feeding Your Guinea Pig a Balanced Diet

Your guinea pig’s diet doesn’t need to be complicated; it just needs to be chosen carefully.

Make sure to have fun with feeding your guinea pig, and help your pet broaden their culinary horizons! When you choose safe foods and avoid toxic options, you will have a happy guinea pig with a full (if very temporarily) tummy.

Share this article with anyone considering adopting a new furry friend or who wants to learn more about their pet’s needs.

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LittleGrabbies is an independent blog run by one human and her pets. We want to help you sift through all of the information that's out there for small pets to provide the best possible care.


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