Guinea pigs are among the most adorable pets to keep. People love them because they are gentle, they like to cuddle, and they are easy to care for.
Besides, they are hardy animals provided that you feed them with a proper diet of hay, grass, straw, pellets, or vegetables every day.
Many guinea pig parents often have a difficult time finding the right diet for their pets. But one thing is for sure, you will never go wrong with hay and fresh grass for your guinea pigs.
Here is a breakdown of why hay and fresh grass should never miss in your pet’s diet.
Benefits of Hay for Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are herbivorous animals, meaning they rely on plants for their source of food. With this in mind, you should supply your pet guinea pigs with a variety of fresh hay every day to keep them healthy and extend their lifespan. Here are the top benefits of hay for guinea pigs.
– Prevents Obesity
You might not know this, but your guinea pig can become obese if you give her too much high-calorie foods. Obesity can cause several health problems in your guinea pig such as heart disease, fatigue, and even diabetes.
Hay contains very minimal calories and your guinea pig can eat as much hay as they want without becoming obese.
– Lowers the Risk of Dental Disease
The teeth of guinea pigs grow very fast and this might lead to dental problems if you do not provide them with something to gnaw and keep their teeth down.
Hay is the ideal choice for lowering the risk of dental disease in guinea pigs as it contains adequate fibers that can help keep their teeth from growing too long.
– Aids in Digestion
Hay might not be the most nutritious diet, but it contains plenty of roughage and fibers that aid in several bodily functions, including digestion.
It also contains basic nutrients and minerals such as water-soluble vitamins, carbohydrates, and proteins that help in bowel movement and prevent diarrhea.
– Prevent Boredom
A guinea pig cage can quickly become a lonely and boring abode if your pet does not have the right toys to play with.
You can spruce up the cage and turn it into a little funhouse by adding small piles of hay for your pet to play with. The plies of hay can also create a bed to help keep your pet warm during cold nights.
Best Hay for Guinea Pigs
Hay is a mainstay in a guinea pig’s diet and there are two main types that you should consider. These include Timothy Hay and Alfalfa Hay.
– Timothy Hay
Timothy hay is one the best grass hays for guinea pigs. This premium feed option is low in protein and calcium, but contains high fiber content, vitamins, and minerals, making it ideal for guinea pigs and other livestock.
Its inviting fragrant smell and delicious taste complement its high nutritional value. Besides, it has the right balance of nutrients and texture that is important for digestion and the dental health of your guinea pig respectively.
It’s therefore not surprising that many guinea parents prefer Timothy hay over other types of feeds for their pet piggies.
– Alfalfa Hay
Alfalfa hay is a great choice for guinea pigs that are nursing, ill, pregnant, or less than six months old since it contains high digestible fiber and protein that are important for this specific category of cavies.
It can benefit ill, convalescing, or skinny guinea pigs to put on more weight thanks to its high-calorie content.
The fact that it contains too much calcium means it is not ideal as an everyday diet for perfectly healthy guinea pigs.
Your pet might have trouble breaking down the calcium, so you should only give it alfalfa hay as a treat rather than a diet staple.
How Much Hay Do Guinea Pigs Eat?
The amount of hay guinea pigs eat depends on the age and size of the animal. Adult guinea pigs obviously eat more than their little ones, and they can consume about 100 grams of hay every day.
However, this does not mean that you limit the amount of hay you give your guinea pig. In an ideal situation, guinea pigs should have unlimited access to quality hay at all times, whenever they need it.
Benefits of Fresh Grass
Giving your guinea pigs one type of meal every day can be boring and your pets might decide to be picky and flatly refuse to eat.
Fresh grass is an excellent dietary option for guinea pigs. It’s rich in nutrition and it is good for their digestive tract. Here are a few benefits of giving your guinea pigs fresh grass.
– Rich in Vitamin C
Guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own, meaning they have to source it from elsewhere. Fresh grass is rich in vitamin c and other nutrients that are essential for the health and wellbeing of your pet.
– High Fiber and Roughage for Digestion
The digestive system of a guinea pig functions optimally on a high fiber diet and 75% of their diet should have enough roughage for prime gut health.
Fortunately, fresh grass is high on fiber and it provides adequate roughage to aid in digestion and prevent diarrhea.
– Easily Accessible
Another benefit of fresh grass is that it is affordable and easily accessible. In fact, you can grow your own grass or allow your pet to eat the grass in your backyard.
Nevertheless, you may have to deworm your guinea pig regularly since fresh grass usually contains parasitic eggs and intestinal pests.
Where to Get Fresh Grass
One main advantage of fresh grass over hay is that it is easily accessible and readily available. Sometimes you do not even have to buy it from the store. If you have a yard, you can grow fresh grass on your own using seed sprouting.
You can also harvest fresh grass from your lawn but make sure it is not wet or soiled as this might cause diarrhea and stomach upsets.
Another alternative is to buy fresh grass directly from an online store or pet food supplies and have it delivered to your doorstep.
What to Feed Guinea Pigs If Out of Hay?
In case you run out of hay or fresh grass, you can give your guinea pig vegetables, fruits, or herbs like kale, parsley, lettuce, carrots, and legumes. They also love green pepper, tomatoes, sweet potato, and zucchini.
Guinea pigs are natural grazers and they require an adequate supply of hay and fresh grass to keep them healthy and happy. Hay and grass contain high fiber, roughage, vitamins, and other nutrients that are essential for the growth and development of your pet.
These nutrients help maintain your guinea pig’s digestive tract and it keeps their teeth down further preventing dental issues.