We’ve talked before about safe foods for your guinea pig, but it’s just as important to understand which guinea pig foods to avoid. Although your cavy is a member of the rodent family, they are intelligently picky eaters (like, impressively intelligent), and rightfully so. Having safe food available for your guinea pig will help them live happily ever after.
The Perfect Guinea Pig Diet
Before we talk about the most important guinea pig foods to avoid, let’s look a little more at the perfect guinea pig diet. First and foremost, your little guy or gal needs lots and lots of hay. Not only is hay super delicious, it provides your piggy the fiber they need to keep on digesting. Ya know, keep on keeping on. (Yes, we just referenced a Curtis Mayfield song.) Plus, a guinea pig needs hay to help grind down those chompers. Like bunnies, a guinea pig’s teeth never stop growing, so hay and healthy treats help shave those little teethers. (Serious problems will arise if the teeth aren’t kept at proper lengths. And that’s no good for anyone.)
In addition to lots of yummy hay, guinea pigs can eat high-quality hay-based pellets and lots of fresh veggies. Hay should make up about 80% of your cavy’s diet and the other 20% should be these healthy additions.
Veggies to Avoid Giving Your Guinea Pig
Speaking of veggies, guinea pigs love lots of healthy leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. And although all veggies are rad for hoomans, there are definitely some to keep your piggy away from. So which should you avoid?
- Iceberg lettuce
- Any veggies with pesticides
- Tomato leaves
Some of these veggies (cauliflower and beans) cause your cavy uncomfortable gas which leads to bloating. And because a guinea pig’s digestive system can’t process extra gas, if it comes on, diarrhea and other issues will likely follow. Some of these guinea pig foods to avoid (garlic and tomato leaves) are actually poisonous to your piggy and should be avoided at all costs. If you think your guinea pig ate something they shouldn’t have, call your vet immediately. Like, ASAP.
Fruits to Avoid Giving Your Guinea Pig
Some fruits, like oranges (great source of vitamin C), apples, and pineapples are awesome treats for guinea pigs, but others (think tomato leaves mentioned above), can be extremely dangerous. More importantly, though, even “safe” fruits can be dangerous if they’re given too much. The majority of your piggy’s diet should be hay with the occasional veggie to mix it up. The high sugar content in fruit can put your guinea pig at risk for diabetes and other health concerns.
We know, you can’t help but smile when your cavy popcorns all over the place after having their favorite bite of melon or apple. Just make sure it’s not a regular thing.
Other Guinea Pig Foods to Avoid
In addition to the guinea pig foods to avoid above, watch out for these, too:
- Chocolate (or any kind of candy or sweets)
- Meat of any kind
- Dairy (yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, etc.)
- Sugary treats
- Salt licks
If you’re living with multiple animals, make sure your guinea pig isn’t able to access any other pet food. Both dog and cat food are made with lots of meat and protein, which is perfect for their carnivorous diet, but not so perfect for your little herbivore guinea pig.
Think about what your little cavy would eat in the wild. They definitely wouldn’t be munching on kibble or indulging in a little chocolate. Stick with hays, grasses, hay-based pellets, and green, leafy veggies… you’re in the clear.
Safe Alternatives for Your Guinea Pig
Luckily, there are many safe choices for your guinea pig, so you don’t have to turn to any of these guinea pig foods to avoid. Instead of feeding them the sugary, processed guinea pig treats from the pet store, turn to all-natural alternatives like dried fruits, hay-based chews, or herbal blends. You can even make your own guinea pig treats. Here are a few easy ideas:
- Bake some guinea pig-friendly cookies by mixing together water, guinea pig pellets, oat flour, vegetable oil, and honey. Use cookie cutters to shape the dough (or roll it into small balls) and bake them for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Make your cavy some of their favorite trail mix by combining dried berries, pellets, cherry tomatoes, and apple chunks. They’re gonna be squealing all day long with this delicious combo.
- On hot summer days, freeze your guinea pig’s favorite fruits or veggies in an ice cube tray and let ‘em enjoy. Super healthy and fun… plus, they’ll provide your piggy with more water. Hydration is a good thing.
Hope this helps. Hooray for healthy piggies!