Guinea pigs love food. They will happily munch away at fresh fruit and vegetables, pellets and specially formulated guinea pig food, and a variety of grasses, including dried hay. In the wild, guinea pigs will spend a good part of their day foraging for food. They nibble on roots, shoots, twigs, and wild fruits to ensure that they have a healthy balanced diet. However, they are unable to do this in captivity, and it is therefore very important that pet guinea pigs are fed a varied diet, and not simply a diet that consists solely of pellets.
Guinea pigs are unable to process their own vitamin C, so they need to get this from the food they consume. If they don’t receive enough vitamin C, they can be prone to poor health, especially skin disease and hair loss – much like sailors in the old days suffered scurvy from lack of vitamin C. Supplement your pet’s diet with fresh fruit and veggies that are high in vitamin C, or provide a specially formulated guinea pig food that has vitamin C added.
One of the most important things that your pet guinea pig needs in its diet is hay. Hay is high in fiber and provides roughage that will keep your guinea pig’s gut working properly and his digestive system healthy. However, not all hays are created equal – some have a higher fiber content and lower protein and calcium content, and contain fewer calories, while other types of hay contain less fiber and have a high protein and calcium content, containing more calories. The best type of hay for guinea pigs is hay that is high in fiber and low in protein and calories. Too much protein and calcium can cause bladder stones, which is an extremely painful condition for your pet, and not always easy to detect. A high calorie diet can cause your pet to become too fat, which can lead to other health problems, and too little fiber in the diet can result in digestive problems.
Because a wild guinea pig tends to constantly nibble away at all sorts of items, their teeth naturally get worn down. To compensate for this, a guinea pig’s teeth are constantly growing. While this survival mechanism may benefit a wild guinea pig, it can cause problems in pet guinea pigs if they do not chew on hay to wear the sharp points of their teeth down. The teeth will eventually grow into the cheek and tongue, which is not only painful, but prevents the guinea pig from eating, resulting in it starving to death. This is another reason why it is so important that your pet guinea pig receive hay as a regular part of its daily diet. As your pet munches contentedly on the hay, the grinding motion will wear your piggy’s teeth down to prevent sharp overgrown points from forming.
What is the Best Hay for Guinea Pigs?
One of the best types of hay for guinea pigs is Timothy hay. But just as different types of hay offer different nutritional value, so too does the quality of the hay affect its nutritional value. If you are wanting to learn more about different types of hay for guinea pigs, I highly recommend you check out this website that provides a wealth of information on hay for guinea pigs and timothy hay for guinea pigs specifically – it’s an excellent resource, and a must read for all guinea pig owners.