Feeding guinea pigs

Guinea pigs can be fed in a very similar way to rabbits with one very important exception. Guinea pigs, just like us humans, are unable to produce their own vitamin C and therefore must consume this important vitamin in their diet. Without Vitamin C, they will develop an illness called scurvy and become very ill. Scurvy can manifest itself in the form of hair loss all the way to paralysis!

As you want the best for your pet it is important to ensure that the diet you feed your guinea pig is rich in this important nutrient. Mixed foods contain a wide variety of different ingredients from corn to alfalfa pellets, this can result in your guinea pig picking out the tasty bits that they enjoy, and leaving the not so tasty elements. If it so happens that your guinea pig is avoiding the ingredients that contain the supplemented vitamin C, you will soon have an ill guinea pig on your hands.

In order to counteract this and to prevent selective feeding, there is now a wide variety of pelleted and extruded guinea pig diets on the market to choose from. In this way, your guinea pig will be consuming the vitamins it needs with every mouthful.

It is also important to remember that guinea pigs were designed and built to eat grass and therefore should always have access to good quality hay. Hay not only provides essential dietary fibre, but also helps to counteract boredom. A guinea pig that is fed a diet with insufficient fibre will sometimes be known to eat its cage mate’s hair in an attempt to add more roughage to the diet. Once this habit sets in it can become very difficult to break as this ‘barbering’, as it is known, can become an ingrained behaviour.

Prevention is far better than cure in this case.

Guinea pigs must also be given fresh vegetables and greens, which as well as being tasty, can also prove a good source of vitamins and minerals. Needless to say, they should always be washed thoroughly before being fed. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, watermelon, watercress, dandelion , spinach, parsley, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, carrots, raspberries, apple, pear, apricots, cherries, cauliflower, peach, cucumber, pumpkin, sweet potato, asparagus, tomato, banana, peas and Brussels sprouts can all be fed
offered to your guinea pig.

Grass may also be given to your guinea pig and they will enjoy some time in a secure run so that it may graze. Be sure that any grass you provide is free from contamination, whether with chemicals or the urine or droppings of other animals. It is perfectly ok to offer your pet handpicked grass but never feed lawn mower cuttings or grass that has been left to wilt. Wilted grass can start to ferment and can make your pet unwell.

Never underestimate the power of food and remember, your guinea pig relies on you to give it a healthy, balanced diet.

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