Feeding Guide

For an animal so small you would think their dietary needs would be pretty straight forward wouldn't you? Well think again, for such small animals they really do have quite complex dietary requirements. 

Their complex nutritional needs is something many owners unfortunately are unaware of or have been misinformed on, which is why we have made it our mission to help educate and hopefully simplify this essential part of guinea pig ownership.

Once upon a time it was not uncommon for guinea pigs to be fed a diet based around veggie scraps but as time has passed, guinea pigs have become more and more valued, loved and cared for family pets, which has resulted in more veterinary care, which has enabled veterinarians the opportunity to discover the health consequences of a poor diet 

Guinea pigs are herbivores, that eat only plants, and like rabbits, are hind-gut fermentors that practice coprophagy (ingestion of one’s own faeces).

Guinea pigs are becoming a more valued, loved and cared for pet in the eyes of their owners, and as a result, veterinary care for guinea pigs has increased.  Veterinarians seeing guinea pigs are noticing several health problems attributed to nutrition: vitamin C deficiency, gastrointestinal ileus, obesity, enteritis and urolithiasis.



The foundation of a guinea pig’s diet should be made up of a good quality fresh hay, which should make up the bulk of the diet (70 - 80% of their diet)

Fresh hay should be available at all times as it provides them with the necessary fibre for their digestive system, which will enable them to properly digest and absorb nutrients, and keeps their teeth properly ground to avoid overgrowth on the molar teeth (malocclusion).

Guinea pigs should always have an endless supply of hay available to them, so that they can graze whenever they wish, hay is also low in protein, which enables them to continuously graze without it contributing to obesity. 

Types of hay: There are several types of hay available but not all hay has the same nutritional value.

Alfalfa hay, also known as Lucerne is a legume hay and is higher in protein and calcium content than grassed base hays.

Alfalfa hay is suitable for guinea pigs under 6 months of age, pregnant, nursing or malnourished guinea pigs as it provides extra nutrition

Healthy guinea pigs over 6 months of cage should not be fed Alfalfa as excess levels of calcium in a guinea pigs diet may contribute to the development of bladder stones.

Suitable hay for guinea pigs over 6 months incline

  • Oaten hay
  • Grassy hay
  • Wheaten hay
  • Meadow hay
  • Timothy hay



Pelleted diets are designed to be fed in conjunction with hay and fresh vegetables and should be high in fiber, age-appropriate and fortified with stabilized vitamin C, to help ensure that all essential vitamins and minerals not found in hay are met.

 Unlike hay, too many pellets can cause obesity, so it’s important to follow the serving directions provided on the bag of pellets and that you select a pellet that is age-appropriate.

There are plenty of different brands of pellets on the market, but not all of them are made equal, there are certain ingredients that can be found in generic, small animal pellets that are not suitable for guinea pigs. These include:

  • Nuts, seeds, oils, dried fruit and/or food colouring
  • Dairy or meat products
  • Vegetable fiber byproducts (such as sawdust)
  • Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or sucrose
  • Propylene glycol (this can cause premature red blood cell (RBC) death)


You should always check the ingredients listed and avoid any of the products list above

We recommend and use the following pellets:


  • Oxbow (Essentials – Young guinea pig food) For guinea pigs under 6 months
  • Oxbow (Essentials – Adult guinea pig food) For guinea pigs over 6 months
  • Vetafarm (Cavy Origins)
  • Burgess (Excel Guinea Pig Pellets)


The reason in which we recommend and use the above brand is because their pellets have been formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of guinea pigs to help them thrive. 


Their pellets are complete and balanced to provide optimal energy and the fiber essential for healthy digestion, with add wholesome ingredients and vital nutrients to meet the needs of guinea pigs during all life stages.


Pellets, combined with a source of hay and vegetables, are a fast and easy way to ensure your guinea pig/s receive the full spectrum of necessary nutrients.

Pellets can be provided to your guinea pigs in a small, heavy ceramic bowl, this is to ensure that your guinea pigs are unable to tip the bowl over.

Pellets should be kept in sealed containers and refrigerated/frozen to maintain freshness when not in use.


Fruits and vegtables


Guinea pigs like humans are unable to synthesize their own Vitamin C; this is why it is so important that guinea pigs are fed an adequate amount daily to prevent deficiencies.

Ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, is necessary for growth and health. Certain biological oxidation and reduction processes require it to function. Without it, abnormalities can start to develop within the bones and blood vessels. A deficiency can also cause bleeding in joints, muscles and intestines, enlarged adrenal glands, scurvy and eventually death.


Vitamin C requirements may vary depending on the age and lifestyle of the guinea pig, for example young guinea pigs under 6 months of age, pregnant or sick guinea pig require more Vitamin C than a healthy adult guinea pig.

On average, a healthy guinea pig requires 10 to 30mg/kg of Vitamin C a day to maintain health and wellbeing.

This can easily be met by feeding a good quality fortified guinea pig pellet and an adequate amount of fresh fruit and vegetables daily


Guinea pigs should be fed 1 cup of fresh vegetables daily and fresh fruit should be given once or twice a week, fruit is higher in sugars and if given to often may contribute to obesity.

Providing a variety of vegetables and fruit that include a good quantity of Vitamin C will not only ensure that all vitamins and minerals are met but will also be interesting and exciting for your guinea pig/s.

Below is a list of some of the most common fruits and vegetable that are suitable of guinea pigs, and their vitamin C content and how often these can be fed.



















Fruit or vegetable

Amount of Vitamin C (mg per 100g)

How often you can feed




2-4 times a week


Green Beans



2-4 times a week





1-2 times a week (remove the seeds, they can be toxic to guinea pigs in large quantities)





1-2 times a week







1-2 times a week (too much can cause gas and bloat)







1-2 times a month (too much can cause constipation)







1-2 times a week (too much can cause constipation


Bell Pepper (Capsicum)


80.00 – 180.00, depending on colour


Daily (feed in moderation, can cause gas or bloat)





1-2 times a week







2-4 times a week (feed in moderation)


Broccoli or Broccolini





1-2 times a week (may cause gas or bloat)


Cabbage (green, red, pak-choi)


51.00, 57.00, 45.00


2-4 times a week (feed in moderation, may cause gas or bloat)

Cantaloupe (Rock Melon)



1-2 times a month (feed in small amounts)

Carrots or Baby Carrots

5.90, 2.60


Daily (high in Vitamin A, feed in moderation)





1-2 times a week





1-2 times a month (remove pits)


Cilantro (Coriander)




Daily (feed in moderation)

Corn on the cob




1-2 times a week






2-4 times a week




2-4 times a week





1-2 times a month





1-2 times a week (can cause mouth sores)





2-4 times a week


Green Beans



2-4 times a week





1-2 times a week





1-2 times a week





1-2 times a week (remove skin)


Lettuce (Romaine - Cos Lettuce)





Mandarin or Tangerine



1-2 times a month (feed in small amounts)





1-2 times a week





1-2 times a week





1-2 times a week





1-2 times a week (excess citrus can cause mouth sores)





1-2 times a month (feed in very small amounts)





2-4 times a week








2-4 times a week




1-2 times a month





1-2 times a week







2-4 times a week







1-2 times a week







1-2 times a month







1-2 times a week







1-2 times a week







1-2 times a month (high in Vitamin A)







2-4 times a week








1- 2 times a week (high in Oxalic Acid, may cause gas or bloat)








2-4 times a week







1-2 times a week (feed in moderation)








2-4 times a week










2-4 times a week (Avoid leave and stem, they are poisonous)







1-2 times a week















Fresh water should be available at all times and should be changed daily to ensure that it remains fresh, preferably provided in a drip bottle to prevent any contamination.

Distilled water or water high in minerals should be avoided, most cities tap water is appropriate for guinea pig consumption.

It is not recommended to add vitamins, medications or other supplements into their water as this may result in incorrect dosages being consumed as we can not be certain how much water is being consumed, or whether or not one guinea pig is consuming more or less water than another.





Guinea pigs like humans cannot produce their own vitamin c therefore it must be provided for them in their daily diet if they do not get the required vitamin c they can get scurvy (vitamin c deficiency) here is a link for more info about vitamin c and scurvy http://www.guinealynx.info/scurvy.html


Fruit and veg

Guinea pigs should be given fruit and veg daily. The recommended minimal fruit and veg intake is 1 cupful of veg/fruit a day you should always have at least one veg/fruit that has a high vitamin c content (exp Capsaicin. The minimum vitamin c intake is 50mg per kg or 80gm if the guinea pig is unwell or pregnant.

Yummy fruit and veg list


·         Cos Lettuce

·         Carrots

·         Spinach/ Silver beet

·         Grapefruit

·         Baby Spinach

·         Bok Choy

·         Tomato

·         Corn & husks

·         Brussels Sprouts

·         Apple

·         Cabbage

·         Celery

·         Sweet Potato

·         Cucumber

·         Green Beans

·         Capsicum

·         Orange

·         Rock melon

·         Watermelon

·         Beetroot

·         Broccoli

·         Green/Red Peppers

·         Choko

·         Parsley

·         Pear

·         Banana & leaves

·         Strawberries

·         Squash

·         Pumpkin

·         Pineapple


Hay and or Grass

Guinea pigs teeth never stop growing therefore they need something to grind their teeth on and chew on in constant supply. Guinea pigs need to be grinding and chewing all the time to wear down their teeth. Gruffness is a necessity guinea pig should have a constant supply of hay or grass if guinea pigs don’t have access to hay/grass they can develop serious medical condition called back teeth Malocclusion. This is where the teeth continue to grow typically the bottom molars sometimes growing over the tongue and or into the gums. This condition prevents the normal eating processes and can cause sores and injuries to the mouth.  Recommended reading.  Cavy Teeth - Guinea lynx Website

Recommended hays

·         Oaten

·         Wheaten

·         Barley

·         Grassy hay

·         Timothy   (oxbow)


Lucerne hay is not recommended for guinea pigs over the age of 6 months. Lucerne hay should actually only be given to young (under 6 months) or pregnant, lactating guinea pigs. Lucerne has too much calcium and other nutrients that adult guinea pigs don’t need if guinea pigs have too much calcium in their body’s they can be prone to bladder stones. Timothy hay is one of the best hays you can get for your guinea pigs this can be purchased from oxbow. http://oxbowaustralia.com/


Guinea pig grain mix/pellets

Grain mix

Guinea pigs should have a small hand full of grain mix each day breeders choice is the best grain mix I can find around this aria and some produce stores sell some nice mix as well. Please try to stay away from supermarkets guinea pig/rabbit mix it is usury full of unhealthy seeds and next to no chaff. The more chaff in the mix the better.


Pellets instead of grain mix

Oxbows Cavy Cuisine is a fantastic pellet for your guinea pigs it has all the nutrients they are looking for from this particular meal. For more info about oxbow  please visit this link http://oxbowaustralia.com/