October 30, 2020

Best Guinea Pig Food

The Most Nutritious Choices in 2021

Fact checked by Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Although there are many brands of commercial guinea pig food out on the market, not all of them meet the dietary requirements they should.

Choosing the right food for your cavy can be difficult.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Feeding your pet with high-quality food will keep them healthy and nourished, and because your pets can't choose what they are eating, it's your responsibility as the owner to find foods that are suitable and nutritious.

If you're looking for the best guinea pig food, then you're on the right page. Check out our vet-approved food recommendations to find the best food for your cavy, or read our complete buyer's guide for more information.

Coming up:

If you're busy, then here's our quick guide to choosing the best guinea pig pellets for your beloved furry friend:

  • Choose foods fortified with vitamin C
  • Avoid blends with seeds, nuts, and fruit
  • Buy small packages because Vitamin C degrades quickly (an easy repeat delivery from a store is practical, ensures healthy food for your pet, AND saves you money)

* We may earn a small commission on purchases made through our links. Learn more.

Best Food for Guinea Pigs –
Recommended by Vets

1. Oxbow Essentials Cavy Cuisine – Adult Guinea Pig – Best Overall

If you want to offer your guinea pig an all-natural, high-quality food at a reasonable price, then this vet-approved pelleted food is the best choice. It meets the nutritional requirements of your pet and keeps them healthy and nourished.

Adult guinea pigs have different dietary requirements than younger piggies. They need high-fiber food for gastrointestinal health and a supply of Vitamin C – but fewer calories and lower levels of protein and calcium.

This Oxbow guinea pig food is made with Timothy grass meal, so it contains fewer calories and less calcium than alfalfa-based guinea pig foods. It has the optimal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio to prevent health issues like bladder stones in adult piggies. It is also fortified with Vitamin C, an essential nutrient in any cavy food.

This guinea pig food checks all the boxes in our complete food guide and is, therefore, our number one recommendation for your pet.

Key benefits:

  • High in Vitamin C
  • No seeds or fruits
  • Made with high-quality ingredients
  • Fewer calories and calcium
  • Made from Timothy hay
  • Perfect for guinea pigs over 6 months

2. Kaytee Timothy Complete Guinea Pig Food – Runner Up

This all-natural guinea pig food from Kaytee is made mainly from timothy hay.

It's high in fiber to promote digestive health and keep your pet's teeth trim. It also contains Vitamin C to meet the nutritional needs of your guinea pig.

This food is especially suitable for adult guinea pigs because it is low in calcium to prevent bladder stones, and it contains less protein to help your pet avoid weight gain. All in all, it is a good-quality but affordable food to feed to your pet.

Key benefits:

  • Fortified with Vitamin C
  • Pellets with no seeds, fruits, or colorful pieces
  • Less protein to prevent obesity
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Easy-to-eat texture
  • No unhealthy corn or sugar

3. Oxbow Essentials Cavy Performance Young Guinea Pig Food – Best for Young Cavies

If you're the owner of a young cavy under 6 months of age, then this Oxbow guinea pig food is what you should be feeding your pet.

It meets the nutritional requirements of young, growing piggies, and keeps them healthy while supporting their growth.

The food is made with all-natural alfalfa hay that provides the protein, fat, and calcium growing guinea pigs need. With added Vitamin C, it's perfect for keeping your new pet happy and nourished.

Key benefits:

  • Specially formulated for young guinea pigs
  • Made with all-natural, high-quality ingredients
  • Fortified with Vitamin C
  • High in fiber and protein
  • No seeds, fruits, or nuts
  • Made from alfalfa hay

Best Guinea Pig Pellets – The Buying Guide

Pellets are an important part of your piggy's diet because they are essential to providing the much-needed Vitamin C guinea pigs can not produce in their bodies.

Providing your guinea pig proper nutrition and a balanced diet is the foundation of their healthy growth and overall health.

While guinea pigs can eat a balanced diet without pellets, it can be challenging to make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Replacing pellets with a large amount of fresh produce may also lead to tummy upsets and is not, therefore, recommended.

When looking for the best food for your guinea pigs, these are the 8 things you need to consider:

1. Avoid blends with seeds, grains, and dried fruit to prevent picky eating

  • Mixtures like these contain pieces that do not meet your pet's dietary requirements and may encourage you piggy to favor the sugary fruits and high-fat seeds instead of the healthy pellets. Seeds may also pose a choking hazard to your pet. Instead, look for plain pellets to ensure a balanced diet.
pellet food for guinea pigs

2. Choose a timothy hay-based pellet

  • Pellets with alfalfa hay contain too much calcium and increase the risk of bladder stones. Therefore, they should only be fed to cavies under 6 months old or pregnant and nursing sows. Instead, choose pellets made with timothy hay.

3. Do not choose food with unhealthy ingredients

  • Avoid food with animal and corn products, rice bran or flour, and vegetable fiber.

4. Choose food with about 12-20% protein

  • The ideal protein content depends on the age of your cavy. Growing piggies need up to 20% protein in their food, while adults guinea pigs need less to avoid weight gain.

5. Make sure the pellets contain important nutrients

  • These include fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and folic acid.

6. Do not choose a food that can be fed to both rabbits and guinea pigs

  • These animals have different dietary needs, and it's best to choose a food that is only focused on providing guinea pigs everything they need.

7. Avoid food with dairy products

  • Guinea pigs are lactose intolerant, so dairy products will cause diarrhea, gas, and discomfort for your pet.

8. Buy pellets in small amounts

  • Because Vitamin C degrades quickly, guinea pig food should not be stored for long periods. Check the expiration date and consider regular shipments from an online pet store for convenience and ensuring freshness.

What to Feed Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs don't tend to overeat, but they are prone to gaining weight, which is why it's important to feed them a balanced diet of high-quality pellets, suitable hay, and fresh vegetables.

Your guinea pigs diet should consist of

  • 80% hay
  • 15% vegetables
  • 5% pellets

In addition, your guinea pig should always have fresh water available. They will drink anything between 50ml and 300ml, so make sure the water bottle is big enough.

Nutritious guinea pig food

  • 1/8 cup of pellets once a day 

Because guinea pigs can not produce Vitamin C themselves, they need this vitamin from their diet. When buying pellets, you should choose ones that are fortified with Vitamin C to ensure your pet gets enough in their daily feed.

In addition to feeding your piggy commercial food with added Vitamin C, you should also offer them fruits and vegetables that are rich in this vitamin.

Hay (alfalfa or timothy, depending on the age)

  • Unlimited fresh hay

You should offer your guinea pig unlimited access to fresh timothy hay throughout the day. It helps their digestion and helps to keep their teeth from growing too long.

Timothy hay is more suitable for adult guinea pigs because it contains less calcium and fewer calories than alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay is better for younger cavies but may cause health issues like weight gain and bladder stones in older piggies.

Although pellets may have timothy or alfalfa hay in them, they can not substitute hay. Your guinea pet should have fresh hay available all day long.

This article concentrates on what to consider when choosing a pelleted food for your guinea pig. For more information on feeding you guinea pig hay, go to our detailed guide on the Best Hay for Guinea Pigs.

feeding my Guinea pig cucumber

Fresh vegetables, leafy and greens and a little fruit 

  • Half a cup of mixed fresh produce daily, most of this should be leafy greens

You should also provide your pet with about a half cup of fresh vegetables once or twice a day. A varied diet of 5-6 types of different veggies and lots of leafy greens daily will ensure balanced nutrition.

The majority of the fresh veggies should be leafy greens like lettuce, kale, cilantro, celery leaves, or parsley. Still, vegetables like broccoli, cucumber, bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes can be added daily as a way to increase the amount of Vitamin C and offer variety.

You can also give your guinea pig fruit, but the quantities should be very small due to the high sugar content and not every day.

You should also avoid high oxalate and calcium foods like spinach because they can lead to painful bladder stones. The oxalic acid in the food binds with calcium to form the stones, which may need to be surgically removed by a veterinarian.

Providing your guinea pig proper nutrition and a balanced diet is the foundation of their healthy growth and overall health.

New foods

Guinea pigs can have sensitive tummies, which is why new foods should be introduced gradually to avoid diarrhea and stomach upsets.

If your pet develops loose stools, you should limit the amount of fresh veggies for a couple of days and slowly reintroduce fresh produce in smaller servings.

How Often Do You Feed a Guinea Pig?

Having a schedule for feeding your guinea pig will help you ensure their daily diet stays in balance. Guinea pigs are most active in the morning and evening, so these are good times for feeding as well.

You should offer your pet food twice a day.

Guinea pigs are prone to obesity, so regular meal times will help them keep a healthy weight.

You should offer your pet food twice a day. It can be a good idea to give the pellets and half of the veggies in the morning and the rest of the fresh produce in the evening.

Discard any uneaten guinea pig food daily and change it to fresh pellets. Also, remember to remove any uneaten fresh food from the cage after a couple of hours before it goes bad and may cause health issues.

Serving the Pellets

A shallow and wide ceramic dish is ideal for serving food to your guinea pigs. Because they are sturdy and heavy, they won't tip over. Ceramic dishes are also durable and chew-resistant and won't need to be replaced anytime soon.

  • The food bowl should be placed away from the area your guinea pigs use as their bathroom.
  • Any pieces of bedding or droppings should be removed every day, as should fresh food that hasn't been eaten in a couple of hours.
  • You should also replace any uneaten pellets every day as stale pellets will have only a little Vitamin C remaining.
  • Once a week, the food bowl should be thoroughly washed with hot water and mild soap to remove the nasty biofilm of bacteria that can develop on the surface.

Best Treats for Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs don't necessarily need commercial treats. These treats are sometimes full of sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup with little nutritional value yet high in calories.

There is no harm in offering your guinea pig the occasional treat when you choose the ones that are healthy for your piggy.

That being said, many pet owners want to treat their beloved pets to some yummy snacks even though they may be unnecessary in your guinea pig's diet. And there is no harm in offering your guinea pig the occasional treat when you choose the ones that are healthy for your piggy.

Actually, treats can be a great way to offer mental stimulation for your pet during the day. They are also an excellent way to bond with your pet, train them, and encourage interaction.

Also, with kids feeding the pet, commercial treats may be the best option. It is easier for children to understand how many treats they are allowed to give the pet instead of estimating the size of a serving of fruit.

These are our favorites:

Our Top Pick
Kaytee Baked Apple Timothy Biscuit

Kaytee Baked Apple Timothy Biscuit

  • Healthy and easy-to-feed treats
  • Made with high-fiber timothy hay
  • Aids the digestion
  • Satisfies the need to chew
  • Keeps your pet's teeth trim
Our Top Pick
Oxbow Simple Rewards Oven Baked with Apple & Banana

Oxbow Simple Rewards Oven Baked with Apple & Banana

  • Healthy but tasty
  • Made with real apples and bananas
  • Low in calcium and protein
  • High in fiber to help with the digestion
  • All-natural ingredients

Multivitamin Supplements and Salt Wheels

Multivitamin supplements and salt wheels are not necessary for your guinea pig – if you're making sure you're offering a balanced diet. However, sometimes it can be difficult to ensure your pet is getting everything it needs.

Adults should always be responsible for making sure pets are being fed properly. Still, with kids taking part in the feeding, it can be challenging to estimate if all the veggies and fruits were given in the correct amounts. I such a case, a multivitamin supplement can be a great way to ensure your guinea pig stays nourished.

If you're looking for a multivitamin for your guinea pig, then this is our #1 recommendation:

Our Top Pick
Oxbow Natural Science Multi-Vitamin Small Animal Supplement

Oxbow Natural Science Multi-Vitamin Small Animal Supplement

  • Great for picky eaters
  • Hay-based, high-fiber supplement for digestive health
  • Contains Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • Contains vitamins A, C, B12, D3, and E
  • Calcium, Phosphorus, and Copper included
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Appealing taste and smell

Always remember that a nutritionally sound diet is the most important factor in good health. Multivitamins should only supplement the nutritious food your pet is eating.

Symptoms of Malnutrition and Vitamin C Deficiency

Although you're probably going to great lengths to ensure your pet is getting all the nutrients it needs, it's good to be aware of the signs of poor nutrition.

If your guinea pig is not offered a healthy and balanced food with enough Vitamin C, these symptoms may occur:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weightloss
  • Lethargy
  • Mobility problems
  • Weakness
  • Unexpected or prolonged bleeding from wounds, mouth or nose
  • Coarse coat

In such cases, contact your vet to get your guinea pigs checked out.

Summing up

Your guinea pigs' diet should consist of hay, pellets, fresh produce, and water to keep your pet healthy. Hay and fresh water should be available at all times, but with the pellets and veggies, you need to be more careful about what you feed and how much.

Obesity, bladder stones, and scurvy are the most common food-related health issues guinea pigs face if their diet is not balanced and nutritious.

Choosing the best guinea pig food for your piggy can be challenging because there are plenty of choices available, but not all brands ensure the food they produce meets the nutritional needs of cavies.

Sometimes pet owners buy the cheapest pet food at the store, not realizing that a poor diet may lead to expensive visits at the vet.

Guinea pigs are adorable little creatures and lovable pets. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to keep them happy and healthy. Good-quality food is the basis of good health and the reason you should be paying attention to what is in that bag of guinea pig food you are buying. 

Luckily, after reading our buying guide, you know exactly what to look for. Also, we already picked out a couple of excellent choices for your furry friend.

FAQ

Can You Overfeed a Guinea Pig?

Yes, you can overfeed your guinea pig. Guinea pigs are prone to obesity, which may lead to health problems. The best thing you can do to prevent overeating is to feed your guinea pig with a balanced and correctly proportioned diet.

Avoid sugary foods and treats, but ensure they get the right amount of healthy pellets and unlimited hay and fresh water. By sticking to the recommendation of roughly 80% hay, 15% vegetables, and 5% pellets, you can prevent overfeeding your guinea pig.

How Much Pellets to Feed a Guinea Pig?

You should feed your adult guinea pig 1/8 cup of pellets once a day. However, if you notice there are uneaten pellets left over every day, you should cut down on the amount.

Vet's Comment

Choosing the right food for your cavy can be difficult, but a good rule of thumb is to try to purchase the best quality food you can afford as you will save in the long run by preventing nutritional imbalances that can lead to illness, costly veterinary treatments and even premature death of your piggy.

- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Dr. Edele Grey Veterinary Surgeon

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Edele Grey
DVM

Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your guinea pig's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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