Do Guinea Pigs Need Pellets? {What Else Should I Feed My Guinea Pig?}

Do you believe that pellets are essential for your guinea pig’s diet?

What happens if you skip the pellets and stick to hay or vegetables instead?

In this article, we’ll find out how important pellets are for guinea pigs.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Pellets?

Guinea pigs need hay more than pellets. Measure 1/8 cup of pellets per day and don’t overfeed them. Hay comprises 70-80% of a guinea pig’s diet and should be plentiful. Supplementing with pellets, vitamin rich vegetables and fruits will help balance their diets.

Are Guinea Pig Pellets Necessary?

In a time where we feel rushed and overloaded with our busy schedules, we tend to rely on easier meal options for ourselves and our pets. Guinea pigs will benefit from the nutrition they get from pellets manufactured for their needs.

If you have more time on your hands, you can get creative or simply vary their diets with fresh foods such as fruits or vegetables including:

  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • capsicum
  • cucumber

Hay should be considered as a necessary food source more than pellets. Measure out pellets to 1/8 cup a day, but the amount of hay you leave for your guinea pig could be limitless.

What Do Guinea Pigs Eat In the Wild?

Since pellets are created to suit the need of pet guinea pigs, their wild cousins must rely on what they find in their natural habitat. They consume:

  • grasses
  • herbs
  • twigs
  • leaves
  • bark 
  • hay

Guinea pigs are opportunistic feeders who would love to find vegetables or fruit on their foraging journey in the wild.

Why Choose Pellets For Guinea Pigs?

Pellets for guinea pigs are reliable, easy and cheap to produce and purchase. Nutrients in pellets help supplement vitamins, calcium and other minerals that are not found in hay.

Pellets are easy to digest and retain most vitamins and fibers through processing and travel until it reaches your guinea pig’s enclosure.

Over feeding pellets will cause your guinea pig to gain weight and stop consuming hay, fruits and vegetables that are essential for their teeth, organ function and overall health.

What Are The Types of Guinea Pig Pellets?

There are many types and brands of guinea pig pellets made from the following:

  • wheat
  • rye
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • buckwheat
  • grasses
  • plants
  • herbs

Some types of pellets absorb water easier and swell inside the stomach of your guinea pig. Cold-pressed options retain fibers and vitamins much more. Keep the pellets as dry as possible and away from their water source.

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What Should I Feed My Guinea Pig?

Let’s start a guinea pig’s diet with plenty of water. Now we should consider the most plentiful option that doesn’t need to be measured out.

1. Hay is a staple food and comes in a variety of options including the following:

  • orchard grass hay
  • timothy hay
  • oat hay

2. Guinea pigs would also like to eat 1/8 cup of pellets once per day.

3. Now you can supplements about a 1/2 cup of leafy greens to supply the Vitamin C that they cannot produce themselves. Other options include:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber

4. Young guinea pigs and pregnant mothers would benefit the most from the rich calcium and protein found in alfalfa.

5. Avoid the following foods:

  • dried fruit
  • grains
  • seeds
  • cereals
  • sugars

What Happens If I Only Feed My Guinea Pig Pellets?

Pellets do not retain the vitamins and minerals over a long period of time. It’s best to not overstock and continue to refresh your stash of pellets for your guinea pig to maintain its potency and nutritional value.

The following effects may arise from a pellet-only diet:

  • Lack of collagen to maintain blood and bone density
  • Weakened tissues and muscles
  • Poor cartilage formation
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Scurvy

Please provide plenty of hay and 1/2 to 1 cup serving of vegetables for your guinea to replenish vitamins that they cannot produce internally. Fruits high in sugar should be given 1-2 times a week in tiny portions.

Why Is Hay More Important Than Pellets?

Guinea pigs benefit from hay that closely mimics their natural eating habits in the wild. Hay helps to:

  • break down food
  • protect stomach lining
  • keep teeth trimmed
  • adds to bedding
  • keep guinea pigs active

Make sure the hay is free of chemicals. Replace or toss out hay that stays in the cage for over 2-3 hours. You do not want your guinea pig chewing on soiled hay.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Pellets Everyday?

A 1/8 cup daily serving of pellets is enough for your guinea pig, but you should also offer vegetables and hay as well. Continuous and limitless access to hay keeps your guinea pig busy and reduces the non-stop growth of its teeth.

Hay makes up 70-80% of a guinea pig’s diet. This is why pellets should be measured out and not overfed.Vitamin C wafers or vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals will help balance out a healthy diet.

What Can I Give My Guinea Pigs Instead Of Pellets?

Your guinea pig would love variety in its diet. Certain fruits that are high in sugar will not be tolerated well in daily doses.

Offer them in small amounts the size of your index finger 1-3 times a week. The following list of fresh foods can be offered for your guinea pig to enjoy as often as 1/2 to 1 cup a day.

  • Romaine lettuce (never iceberg lettuce)
  • Carrots and carrot tops
  • Peas
  • Broccoli spears
  • Spinach
  • Artichokes
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Green and red bell peppers
  • Other dark green veggies

Can A Guinea Pig Survive On Just Hay?

Hay alone won’t carry the necessary nutrition to satisfy your guinea pig’s dietary needs. Nevertheless, offer as much hay as you wish. Your guinea pig may consume up to its body weight in hay per day.

Add pellets, vitamin C wafers and fresh vegetables to supplement a hay heavy diet for your guinea pig to munch on.

How Do I Get My Guinea Pig To Eat Pellets?

If you have a guinea pig that refuses to eat pellets, start by offering more variety instead of forcing this single meal option.

Take 4-5 pellets in your hand and begin bonding with your guinea pig. Offer the pellets in between praise and communication. Take it slowly and don’t be frustrated as your guinea pig might pick up on your discomfort and stop eating.


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