While guinea pigs can eat a wide variety of vegetables and some plants and fruits to maintain a healthy lifestyle there are going to are those plants that you never want to feed them.
Plants that are poisonous and you never want to feed them to your guinea pig are nearly all plants that come from bulbs… That includes onions, garlic, chives, leeks, snowdrops and lily of the valley. These are the main ones and there are more which I will list below.
I never realized that there were so many different things that are poisonous and you should not feed to guinea pigs. Stick to feeding them the foods you know are healthy and won’t harm them until you know for sure what other foods they can eat.
15 Foods Guinea Pigs Shouldn’t Eat
If you think about what a guinea pig would be eating in their natural surroundings and the type of foods they would be eating. You would know that meat, dairy products are not available to them in the wild. They would be eating various types of grass, flowers, certain berries and fruit.
You Shouldn’t Feed Them These
1] Meat… Avoid feeding your guinea pig any meat, or any food that contains meat by products like dog food, cat food. Guinea pigs digestive tract is not equipped to digest any type of meat and can make them very sick.
2] Dairy Products… That includes milk, cheese or other dairy based foods guinea pigs can’t digest dairy products. They lack the enzymes needed to digest dairy products.
3] Iceberg Lettuce…This will give your piggy bad diarrhea and can dehydrate them.
4] Gas Causing Vegetables… Because they digestive tract can digest these vegetables they will get bloated. Don’t feed them cabbage or cauliflower as well as any other gas causing foods.
5] Avocado… Many guinea pigs have a weight issue and avocados are very high in fat content, as well avoid feeding them the skin and even the soft inside, best to not feed them these.
6] Onion Family… This includes onions, leeks, shallots and chives feeding these to your guinea pig can lead to them developing blood problems.
7] Treated Plants… Especially those plants that have been sprayed with a pesticide, piggies are very sensitive to the residue left behind from plants and vegetables being chemically treated. Best to avoid these and give them products you know are organic and not treated.
8] Garlic… Don’t give your guinea pig garlic!
9] Beans… Avoid feeding them beans as they are very gaseous.
10] Rhubarb… Be on the alert for rhubarb and other plants that contain high levels of oxalic acid, this can affect their kidneys and also cause bring on stones developing in their urinary tract.
11] Plastic Toys… Avoid giving your guinea pig plastic toys to chew on they have very sharp teeth and can chew and swallow the plastic bits which are very sharp and not digestible.
12] Painted Items… Don’t let them chew on anything that has glue, paint or other chemical type finished on it. Be careful with anything that has been glued such as the end of the rolls of toilet paper and paper towel tubes.
13] Nuts and Seeds… Nuts contain high levels of fat and can quickly cause your piggy to get overweight. Seeds are a high choking hazard and also contain a lot of fat.
14] Sweet Treats… Don’t give them chocolate or other types of candies they can get there sweets from fruits.
15] Tomato Parts… What I mean is the leaves and stalks, don’t feed them to your piggy, the tomatoes are OK to feed them.
Your guinea pigs diet needs to be at least 75% good quality hay; timothy hay is a great choice. Other foods they should have are greens, fruits and vegetables. Always keep and generous supply of fresh water for them. The pellet foods can be OK but limit that to about an 1/8th cup a day.
What Foods Can I Feed My Guinea Pig?
Now you know which foods not to feed your guinea pig let’s look at what foods you can feed your guinea pig. Just keep in mind that there is human food that you can feed your piggy, but don’t get into a habit of feeding them your leftovers.
Guinea pigs are herbivores and there diet should reflect that so have a meal plan for them that includes some vegetables and fruits. When preparing their diet there’s a couple things you need to consider.
1] Vitamin C… Guinea pigs don’t make have a natural ability to make vitamin C which can make them susceptible to scurvy. They need to have vitamin C intake of about 20 mg daily if your feeding them a well-balanced diet they will get the needed vitamin C from the foods they eat, if not you may need to give them a supplement.
2] Fiber… You will notice how their teeth are always growing so it’s important for them to eat and chew the very fibrous hay that contains lots of fiber for them.
Here’s What to Feed Your Guinea Pig
Hay… By far this is the best food for your guinea pig and needs to be given every day for good heath and for providing their fiber needs. The fiber also is important for good all-round health for there always growing teeth.
Having that good supply of fiber helps their digestive system from excessive bloating and keeps their stools from being to soft and runny. The fiber is also essential for maintaining a good heathy urinary tract.
You can get hay in two types: Timothy and alfalfa, the best of the two in Timothy. Alfalfa hay is high in calcium and is not recommended to be given to adult guinea pigs all the time, it can be given in small amounts as a special treat. You can increase the alfalfa hay to guinea pigs that are less then 6 months old.
How much hay should you give them? They need to hay a good supply of the Timothy hay every day and depending on the ages of your piggies the amount will vary. Plan on giving them a diet that has 80 percent hay. On average they should have 3 ounces a day so always keep a good supply on hand.
Vegetables… Naturally your going to want to give your piggies a few vegetables and you should try to give them about 8 percent of their daily food intake. Another method to make sure their getting the right amount of vegetables is use this rule of half a cup per pound.
Here Are Some Vegetables to Feed Them
- Romain Lettuce.
- Greens from turnip plants.
- Mint & Basil Leaves.
- Peppers [bell].
These vegetables provide a good supply of vitamin A, B, C, and K as well as potassium and some other trace amount of minerals. Just remember to moderate them as some like spinach contain a high amount of oxalic acid which can cause stones.
As well broccoli when given too much can give your piggy tummy problems and gas. Carrots and parsnip and sweeter tasting and very high in calories and carbs and work well for a treat. Keep the vegetables in moderation and mix them up each day for some variety for them.
Pellets… You can also feed them some pellets but only give them pellets as a supplement only and you should limit pellets to 1/8th of a cup daily. Get the plain pellets this will prevent them from only eating the tastier pellets and leaving the others behind.
When buying pellets pick the ones that have vitamin C, and which use Timothy hay rather than the ones that are made from alfalfa hay. If you have a pregnant piggy or younger ones than giving them pellets made from alfalfa hay is OK for awhile.
Water… Just like your having hay available all the time you should have fresh water available all the time too, this will keep your piggies hydrated and healthier.
Giving Your Guinea Pig Treats
Just like us human’s guinea pigs will enjoy having a treat too. Your treat selection can still be healthy, and the best treats are fruit. Here’s some fruits to give as treats:
Just give them these fruits in moderation and give them a variety each day as a treat. Just like us treats are like candy to guinea pigs and will look forward to their treats every day. Don’t go crazy with these they are really high in sugar and can be a health risk.
Give them about ¼ cup of a variety of fruit daily, you can also use some alfalfa hay as a treat for older piggies and if there not pregnant.
Human Foods to Avoid Giving Your Guinea Pigs
Vegetables… Iceberg lettuce have certain toxins that will give your piggies a tummy ache as well iceberg lettuce is very moist and has no nutritional ingredients. Don’t give them potatoes their high starch content makes them very hard for guinea pigs to digest.
Fruits… Don’t give them grapes, avocados or raisins and definitely avoid giving them fruits that contain acids like oranges and lemons.
Don’t give them anything that has gone bad like vegetables that are too old and fruits that are overly ripe and starting to rot.
Giving Them a Balanced Heathy Diet
There are 3 things to keep in mind to be sure you have healthy guinea pigs:
1] Quality Hay… This is vital for good digestion and to keep their always growing teeth in check, hay must be available for them every day all day.
2] Vitamin C… Giving them fruits and vegetables daily to supplement the hay will ensure they get the vitamin C they need in their daily diet.
3] Fluid… Just like their hay make sure you have a good supply of fresh drinking water for them to drink all the time.
Get into a good habit of always having fresh foods for your piggies, if they didn’t finish any food you gave them remove them and give them fresh food. Believe it or not guinea pigs a fussy eaters and don’t like foods that are old.
Sometimes you’ll notice your piggies are losing or gaining weight and to keep them healthy adjust the food intake. The amount of food they eat daily can change over time and just because there eating less doesn’t mean there something wrong. If you’re not sure or suspect something is wrong take them to see you vet for a checkup.
Can I Feed Wild Plants to My Guinea Pigs?
Feeding your piggies wild plants is a great way to save on your food costs, while most wild plants are not available year round, they are a good choice when available. Collecting rose pedals and some nettles which you can dry out and have available later during the year. Some plants like mallow and soft leaves from vegetables can be eaten right away.
When you’re out looking for wild plants it’s a good idea to have a plant ID book with you so you can avoid any poisonous are dangerous plants in the wild. Avoid using plants that are near the roadside as they can be contaminated by gas and oil and other animals may have eliminated near or on them.
Choose areas to forge that you know won’t have any chemicals or pesticides on them. Once you have collected some limit the amount you feed your piggies, so they don’t have a bad reaction. Here’s a real good resource for identifying natural wild foods that are safe to eat, it’s call “North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods” and you can review it here on Amazon.
Safe Plants From the Wild
- Blackberry leaves.
- Wild mallow.
- Wild geranium.
- Shepherds purse.
- Goose grass.
- Rose leaves.
- Sow thistle.
- Grass. [free from pesticides].
- Golden rod.
If you have access to some wild weeds and plants, you can use them instead of store-bought vegetables. You can also bring back many yummy plants and dry them and store them for feeding to your pigges later.
Here are some good places to start your forage for wild plants:
- Public fields are a good place to look for wild plants.
- Private farms and fields [with the owner’s permission].
- Less traveled country roads.
Don’t dig up plants and make sure you can identify them as safe for consumption. If you come across some rare plants leave them alone. Don’t pick all the plants in one area. You can also grow your own wild plants and vegetables to feed your guinea pigs.
Now you know which plants are poisonous to your guinea pigs and which plants to feed them, experiment with them and try giving them a bit a time to see which ones are there favorites. It’s also a great way to save money on your food budget.