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DIET

Guinea pig diet is extremely important.  Piggies don’t manufacture their own 
Vitamin C, so they rely on their human family members to see that they get it.  First, and foremost, forget those vitamin C drops for water.  The ultra violet rays from sunlight and even indoor fluorescent lights will reduce the potency of the vitamin C.  The vitamin C tablets are fine, if your pig will eat them, but if fed properly, a guinea pig should not need them.

Each pig should have at least ½ cup of greens, and ¼ cup of other fruits and/or veggies TWICE a day.  The greens should consist of romaine lettuce, green leaf, red leaf, and one of the following:  collard greens, mustard greens, kale or turnip greens.  The greener the leaf the more vitamin C; but be careful, because a heavy leafed plant (i.e., kale, collard greens) could cause bloat.  Cabbage should not be fed to guinea pigs for this reason.  Some pigs are also more susceptible to bloat than others, so you have to be careful when you feed your cavie, and be on the lookout for this condition.  An easier way to see that your piggie gets the proper leaf lettuces is to buy romaine lettuce and spring mix (muscalin mix), and mix these together, and add your kale or collard greens.  

When you give them their “side dish” of other fruits and veggies, always try to make sure you have some form of bell pepper there, and raw beets.  Raw beets are great for any animal’s kidneys, and since one of the biggest killers for a guinea pig is renal failure; feeding your pig a healthy diet, enriched with raw beets (leaves as well as beet head) will help keep your guinea pig healthier, extending its life.  You can also feed you cavie a variety of other fruits and vegetables, but be careful not to feed too much in those areas where there is a high sugar or calcium content.  Contrary to what most people think, carrots really aren’t very good for guinea pigs, or rabbits for that matter.  They are very high in sugar content, but they are just as high with calcium.  Parsley and Spinach are also very high in calcium.  These items should be fed in moderation and with other fruits and vegetables.  Too much calcium can cause kidney and/or bladder stones; a very painful and often fatal problem for guinea pigs.  

HAY

Cavies should also have an unlimited supply of hay.  There are many different types of hay, but the most common is alfalfa, timothy, orchard and bluegrass hay.  Timothy hay is the most common hay used, because it is the easiest to obtain.  Alfalfa hay should only be used for baby or sick pigs, or pregnant or nursing pigs.  However, if you want to make your guinea pig feel special, treat them to Kleenmama’s bluegrass hay.  This hay can be purchased online from a very reputable supplier, at www.kmshayloft.com.  Most pet stores carry timothy hay, but be careful.  You don’t want hay that is yellow or mostly sticks.  Hay should look like dried soft grass in a bag.  If you have a feed store locally, check with them to see if they sell timothy hay by the bale.  A bale of hay should cost you less than $10.  In the pet store, 40 ounces of hay can run you almost $13.  Don’t let the size of the bale of hay scare you.  Even if you only use half of it, it is still cheaper than buying nasty sticks posing as hay from the pet store.  If you do get your hay from a feed store, be sure to specify “second cut”  grass hay.  During the end of winter and into early spring, you may be forced to go to first cut hay, which has thicker stocks than the second cut.  The guinea pigs love first cut hay; but most guinea pig owners prefer the second cut hay.  To us, it’s a visual thing; to them, first cut is more fun to munch on. 

Many people will feed their cavie pellets.  We do not feed our pigs pellets.  If we have to feed pellets to a pig to supplement it’s diet, we'll only feed Zu-preem, Oxbow Cavie Cuisine, Mazuri, Small Pet Select, Sweet Meadow, or Sherwood Forest brand pellets.  If you feel you must feed pellets, make sure they are guinea pig pellets (not hamster pellets, or rabbit pellets, etc.).  Above all, avoid mixes with nuts, seeds or colored bits.  If it looks pretty, don’t feed it!  There are less expensive guinea pig pellets that can be purchased, but they will usually have an ingredient called “ethoxiquin” in them.  Ethoxiquin is a Vitamin C preservative, but it is also a known cancer causing agent.  Under no circumstances should any pellets with this ingredient be fed to your beloved pet.  If you feed a diet rich in the lettuces, fruits and vegetables that I have described above, as well as a GOOD quality timothy hay (this doesn’t necessarily mean “store bought” hay), you would have no reason to feed the cavie pellets.