Proper nutrition is essential to keep guinea pigs healthy and thriving. Guinea pigs require a balanced diet that includes hay, fresh vegetables, pellets, and occasional fruits. In general, guinea pigs should consume 80% hay, 15% vegetables, and 5% pellets to maintain their ideal body weight, and to prevent health problems.
Vegetables are an important part of a guinea pig’s diet, providing nutrients that are essential to their health. While most of their daily diet should consist of hay, guinea pigs also need about 1/2 to 1 cup of vegetables every day. The following are some vegetables that are healthy for them:
Several types of lettuce are among the most common vegetables that guinea pigs can eat. Romaine, red leaf, and green leaf lettuce are good varieties to offer your pet. Lettuce contains several vitamins, including Vitamin C, which guinea pigs can’t produce on their own. It also has a high-water content, which can help your pet stay hydrated. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves thoroughly before feeding them to your guinea pig.
Carrots are higher in sugar than most vegetables, but they can be fed to guinea pigs as long as they are fed in moderation. Chewing on carrots can help keep a guinea pig’s teeth healthy. Carrots are high in fiber and contain multiple vitamins, including Vitamin C, that benefit your guinea pig. You can cut carrots into bite-size pieces to prevent choking.
As one of several fresh herbs that guinea pigs can eat, cilantro is commonly used in Asian, Central American, and Middle Eastern recipes. Guinea pigs can eat the stems and leaves of the inexpensive vegetable. Cilantro contains Vitamin C, along with other beneficial minerals. It should be washed well before being fed to your guinea pig.
Tomatoes contain Vitamin C, which is a vital nutrient for guinea pigs that they must obtain from their diet or supplements. Guinea pigs can eat any variety of tomatoes but avoid feeding the stems or leaves of this plant. After washing, cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces for your guinea pig. Introduce them (and any new food) in small amounts first to avoid upsetting your guinea pig’s stomach.
5. Yellow Summer Squash
Yellow squash is high in Vitamin C, like many other yellow and orange vegetables. This makes it an excellent veggie option for guinea pigs that rely on external sources to provide this essential nutrient. Squash is also high in fiber. Organic vegetables are usually best to feed guinea pigs if possible. Always wash the squash thoroughly and cut it into small pieces for your pet. Remove any uneaten fresh food at the end of the day to avoid spoilage.
Asparagus is a good source of fiber and Vitamin C. It also provides other beneficial vitamins and minerals, along with antioxidants. Remove the woody lower stem and chop the asparagus into bite-sized pieces for your guinea pig to enjoy. And, of course, don’t forget to wash this vegetable first! Like the other vegetables on our list, asparagus is best served raw because cooking can decrease its nutritional value.
7. Bell Pepper
Bell peppers, especially red ones, are packed with Vitamin C, making them the perfect vegetable for guinea pigs to eat. Peppers are high in fiber and contain other beneficial nutrients, and guinea pigs may enjoy the crunchy texture of raw bell peppers. Remove the seeds and stem after washing before cutting the pepper into small pieces.
While these seven vegetables all provide beneficial nutrients for your guinea pig, some other veggies should only be fed rarely or not at all. These fall into three categories: starchy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and high oxalate vegetables.
Starchy vegetables like peas, corn, or beans shouldn’t be fed to guinea pigs because they are high in starch. Other starchy vegetables, like potatoes, should be avoided too. High-starch foods like bread, crackers, or grains are generally unhealthy for guinea pigs.
The vegetables in the cruciferous category may make your guinea pig gassy and uncomfortable. They can technically still be fed, but only rarely. These vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels Sprouts, and cauliflower.
Guinea pigs are prone to developing kidney and bladder stones, many of which are made of excess minerals called oxalates. Some vegetables contain naturally high amounts of oxalates and should generally be avoided. Spinach, kale, chards, and collards all fall into that category.
As part of a balanced diet, serve your guinea pig two to three vegetables daily. Rotate the types of veggies offered to keep your guinea pig from becoming bored with their food and ensure they eat a broad range of nutrients. In addition to hay and vegetables, guinea pigs can eat a small portion of pellets each day, with fruit as an occasional treat. Fresh water should always be available.
Talk to your veterinarian about whether a Vitamin C supplement is recommended to keep your guinea pig healthy. With proper nutrition, your guinea pig can live a long and healthy life.