The Essentials of Guinea Pig Diets
The key to keeping any house pet healthy and happy begins with their diet. There are lots of different guinea pig formulated foods available and it is hard to choose one over the other. In this article, I will talk about the things to look and plan for when choosing the best feed for your guinea pig.
Diet and Housing
The first thing you should do is ask the store that you bought your guinea pig from what they are feeding them. A guinea pig's diet should be varied with formulated pellets, fresh greens, and fruits, along with plenty of Timothy hay and alfalfa.
Once you have chosen your guinea pig, their cage, litter, and a water bottle, the next thing to decide is what to feed. A quality formulated guinea pig feed should make up the bulk of your guinea pigs diet.
There are a lot of different manufacturers of formulated guinea pig pellets so it can be hard to choose the right one. You will find that the formulas in these guinea pig foods don't differ that much. Your choice will come down to one thing, freshness.
Best if Used By
All guinea pig food manufacturers will put a "best if used before" date on their bag of feed. This is a formulated feed and the vitamins in it are supplemental. Meaning they are usually sprayed on and allowed to dry. These sources of vitamins begin to break down very quickly once they are put in bags and shipped out cross country. After approximately six months, all the vitamins in your guinea pig feed will be broken down and unusable. It is essential to choose the freshest guinea pig feed possible. Zamzows Garden Guinea Pig Diet and Zamzows Guinea Pig Maintenance are both made in Idaho and sold within one to two weeks of production.
It is a good idea to add fresh produce into your guinea pig's diet. Providing your pet with a variety of fresh greens like spinach and collard greens will give them a good amount of fiber and natural sodium along with many other essential vitamins and minerals. Fruits will also ensure that they are getting the proper amount of vitamin C.
Like humans, guinea pigs don't have an enzyme in their body that allows them to manufacture vitamin C. Therefore it must be supplemented in their diet. Signs of vitamin C deficiency include loss of appetite, weight loss, nasal discharge, swollen and painful joints and ribs, and ruffled fur. Fruits like strawberries and oranges have lots of vitamin C. Liquid supplements are also available that can be put in their water daily. Zamzows also carries a yogurt treat that is fortified with vitamin C. This is a good interactive way to supply your pig with the proper amount of vitamin C.
The number one cause of premature death in pet guinea pigs is obesity. Our guinea pigs eat too many pellets, and don't get enough exercise, and don't eat nearly enough quality grass hay. Guinea pigs are rodents and they need to constantly chew. Having hay in constant supply will ensure your guinea pig's teeth won't overgrow. Herbivores also need to have their digestive tract full at all times to make sure they are able to utilize the nutrition in their diet. Alfalfa can also be supplied at times; although it should only be used as a treat on rare occasions. Too much alfalfa can cause kidney stones because of the high levels of sodium.
Now that you know what to feed your guinea pig, it's time to sit back and enjoy their company for years to come.