Guinea pigs were domesticated in 5000 BC by the Incas [source]
To make sure your guinea pig is healthy and happy, it’s imperative it receives a diet that includes endless amounts of hay, high quality pellets, and fresh, clean, and preferably filtered water.
Guinea pigs also require daily vitamin C (which they can’t make on their own), and small snacks of dark leafy greens for essential vitamins and minerals.
For hay, HappyCavy uses orchard grass hay (similar to timothy hay), which is sourced through a local farm. We provide constant access for all our guinea pigs to this fresh hay mixture, as well as Timothy Choice Guinea Pig Food Pellets from KMS Hayloft, and a water bottle filled with clean, filtered water.
In addition, the HappyCavy Herd enjoys one snack per day of dark leafy greens. Occasionally, the Herd snacks on an additional vegetable treat, which may be cucumber, carrot, parsley, cilantro, tomatoes, apple, banana, wheat grass, or other guinea-pig-friendly fruits and veggies.
You can refer to the HappyCavy Guinea Pig Safe Food List Guide for a list of foods that are SAFE to give to your guinea pig.
PLEASE NOTE: By “SAFE”, we are not implying that the foods on the “Safe Food List” are an acceptable substitute for the food guide below. Hay-based pellets, hay pellets, and fresh water should make up the majority of your guinea pig’s diet. Anything else is a snack, a just a few pieces will do.
Supplementing your cavy’s diet with vitamin C is not necessary as long as you are feeding it fresh hay and high-quality pellets. However, you can go the extra few steps to ensure that your guinea pig is getting an adequate supply of daily vitamin C by providing a pure, guinea pig-safe Vitamin C supplement. This will help to keep it healthy, happy, and vibrant.
The HappyCavies receive daily supplements of pure Vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid). The powder is sprinkled onto a favorite small treat: cucumber.
Please note that Humans should avoid adding Vitamin C to water since it isn’t stable in water and will degrade. Additionally, since guinea pigs drink varying amounts of water throughout the day, it is difficult to judge the amount of Vitamin C that any one guinea pig may receive.
Guinea pigs shouldn’t need to rely on supplements as their main source of Vitamin C.
A diet made-up of fresh, high-quality hay and pellets, along with an occasional snack of dark greens or other guinea pig-friendly treats, should provide an adequate amount of vitamins for your guinea pig. A little extra Vitamin C in the diet isn’t harmful, but it can help compensate for any dietary shortcomings.
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The HappyCavy guinea pig family receives a constant supply of fresh quality hay and Timothy hay-based pellets (purchased at KMS Hayloft.) The high calcium profile of alfalfa makes this hay the perfect choice for growing babies and pregnant mothers, but you should avoid feeding alfalfa to adults, as the high calcium content can lead to kidney and bladder stones.
When it comes to “high-quality” pellets, this simply means that they should be indicated as “guinea pig specific” and should not contain soy, corn, soybean meal, sugars, artificial colors and flavors, seeds, etc.
Once per day, each HappyCavy gets 1 cup (240 mL) DARK greens lettuce (NOT iceburg lettuce!). The Humans purchase our organic dark greens (a combination of green romaine, chard, baby spinach, red leaf lettuce, radiccio, and mizune) from a local grocer for about $4 for 20 ounces.
Occasionally (about once every day), the HappyCavy Herd receives a special snack. This usually comes from whatever the Humans are preparing for dinner. The snacks can be cucumber, green pepper, carrots, or parsley. But be careful not to feed your guinea pigs too much of any one snack, as it may be high in sugar or other nutrients and potentially disruptive to their gastrointestinal tracts. Anytime your cavy gets a snack that is new to it, just feed it a very small amount, since its digestive system is not used to that particular food. Over time, you can feed it a larger portion of the snack, once it’s had time to adjust and you’ve had time to observe how it handles the food.
You can refer to our List of Dangerous Foods for Guinea Pigs to learn what foods SHOULD NOT be fed to your cavy. If you are ever unsure if a food is guinea pig-safe, it is best to err on the side of caution and NOT feed it to your piggy.
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