Posted on February 5, 2021 by Monique Hanford
Dry pellet food is an important part of your guinea pig’s daily diet and these specially formulated nuggets are made to meet the unique needs of a guinea pig’s dietary and nutritional requirements.
It’s important to buy good quality pellet food for your guinea pigs as this will contribute to a healthy pet.
With many different brands selling various types of guinea pig food it’s difficult to know which one to choose and which pellets are going to be best for your guinea pigs.
You may notice that some of the brands called them “pellets” and others call them “nuggets” but they both refer to dry guinea pig food.
The best guinea pig food contains the right balance of ingredients to help your guinea pig thrive and this food will complement the rest of their diet. The pellets we recommend for your guinea pigs are:
It’s worth noting that the standard guinea pig food from Science Selective contains alfalfa as a main ingredient so although we recommend the grain-free version, we don’t recommend the standard variety for adult guinea pigs.
Our favorite guinea pig food brand is Small Pet Select and this is because Small Pet Select pride themselves on using the very best natural ingredients.
The food they produce is well balanced and it doesn’t contain some of the unhealthy and unnecessary additives and ingredients that can be found in some other lower quality pellets.
Timothy hay based pellets are generally the best dry food for your guinea pigs. Of course, there will be other ingredients in these nuggets to also consider.
Vitamin C is an essential part of your guinea pig’s diet and although you should make sure your pets get plenty of this vitamin in their fresh daily veggies, it’s important their pellet food also has this essential nutrient. Vitamin C is also known as “ascorbic acid” so you may see it listed as this in the ingredients on the packet.
Although your guinea pigs will get most of their fiber from the hay they eat, it should also be a major part of the pellet food you choose for them too. Fiber is vital to a healthy digestive system in guinea pigs.
There are lots of dried food and muesli mixes for guinea pigs but these are generally not good for your cavies as they might contain additives and unhealthy foods that could lead to health issues for your small pet.
For example, some will contain dried fruit, seeds, nuts and added sugars and colorings, all of which are not designed for guinea pigs. These are made to look enticing so don’t be fooled by how delicious they look.
In fact, the more healthy ones may look boring and unappealling to you but these are generally the ones that will be best for your guinea pig. It’s a good idea to always check the list of ingredients before you buy.
One of the problems you may encounter if feeding a muesli mix or a similar dried food mix is selective feeding. Your guinea pig may eat the bits they like the most and leave the other pieces. This may mean they are missing out on some of the important nutrition that they need to be healthy and strong.
Alfalfa (also called Lucerne) is an excellent source of calcium for young guinea pigs as well as pregnant and nursing mothers but once a young guinea pig is past 6 months old, they don’t need it and should change to a Timothy hay based pellet food.
Check the ingredients on the packet and if Alfalfa or Lucerne appears first in the list, it means this is the main ingredient in the pellet food. In that case, choose another one that either doesn’t include Alfalfa or at least doesn’t have it listed as the main ingredient.
Guinea pigs need pellet food because it is designed to give them the balanced nutrition their bodies need to be healthy.
You could make up your own feed but buying a good quality pellet food is a lot easier than having to buy all the components you would need to provide them with a good balance of vitamins and minerals.
Guinea pigs should have about an eighth of a cup (or 2 tablespoons) of pellets each day. The easiest way to measure this is by using an eighth measuring cup or a tablespoon rather than guessing as it is quite a small amount.
Don’t be tempted to keep filling up the bowl when it gets empty. The most important part of your small pet’s diet is fresh hay and, if they consume too many pellets, they may not eat enough of their hay which can result in serious problems, especially with their teeth.
If your guinea pig is not eating the pellets it may be they don’t like that particular brand. Try another good quality pellet food to see if it makes any difference.
If your guinea pig is off their dry food as well as their hay and fresh food, there is clearly a problem and they should be taken to a vet as soon as possible. When a guinea pig stops eating, it can cause grave health issues very quickly so early medical attention is vital.
Your guinea pig can’t survive on pellets alone. It’s crucial you don’t feed your guinea pigs pellets and nothing else. A guinea pig that is fed solely on pellets will become ill and experience serious health problems, especially with their digestion and teeth, that may be irreversible. So it’s important they get a good balanced daily diet.
Pellet food should only be a small part of a guinea pig’s diet with hay being the largest part of their daily food intake. Hay is required to grind down their constantly growing teeth and it is essential for a healthy digestive system.
If you want to change your guinea pig’s pellet food to another brand or type, it’s important you do this gradually to avoid any tummy troubles.
We recommend putting a little of the new food in their bowl with some of the original food. Each day, increase the amount of new food and reduce the amount of the previous food you used until you are just using the new pellets. Make sure the total amount they get is still an eighth of a cup per piggy so they don’t consume too much.
There may be times when you run out of pellet food and for whatever reason you may be unable to buy pellets for a few days in the shops or online. Providing you feed your guinea pig unlimited hay and a good selection of healthy veggies each day until you can get the dry food, your guinea pigs will be fine.
Try to get hold of the pellets as soon as you can as the nutrition they contain is an important part of a healthy diet for your piggies. But don’t worry in the meantime as they won’t suddenly become ill if they have to go without these for a short time.
Guinea pig food and rabbit food is formulated for the specific pet’s dietary needs so you should not give your guinea pig any food that is designed for a rabbit.
One of the biggest differences in the diets of these two pets is that rabbits don’t need added vitamin C because their bodies make this vitamin. But vitamin C is an essential vitamin for a guinea pig so it is included in guinea pig food but not in rabbit food.
Guinea pigs can’t eat hamster food for the same reason they can’t eat rabbit food. Any food that is made for a different type of pet or rodent whether it’s a hamster, chinchilla, rat or gerbil will not be suitable for your guinea pigs as they all have different dietary requirements.
Because your guinea pig needs just a small amount of pellet food, you only need a small bowl for their daily pellets. But make sure you buy one that is non-tip or the food will end up on cage floor.
The 1/4 cup STAYBowl is the perfect size for 2 portions of daily pellets. This means it is ideal if you have one or a pair of guinea pigs.
If you have more than two guinea pigs, choose a bigger bowl. We recommend the following large guinea pig food bowls which are all non-tip:
Your guinea pig’s food needs to be stored properly so it stays fresh and retains the nutrients that are so good for them. They must be kept free of any moulds or fungus.
Guinea pig pellets shouldn’t be stored in the fridge but should be kept in a dry, cool and dark place. Avoid placing them next to a radiator or in direct sunlight.
If you’re leaving them in the packet they were bought in, make sure it is completely sealed as light will reduce the vitamin C content. We recommend storing them in a sealed plastic box to retain the freshness.
Always make sure your pellets are not past the “best before” date and don’t store them for too long. It’s best to buy a smaller packet if you only have one or two guinea pigs so they stay fresh.
The cost of your guinea pig food will vary depending on which brand you buy. However, we don’t recommend you go for the cheapest option as it’s very likely the quality won’t be anywhere near as good.
Remember that your guinea pigs only need a very small amount of this dry food each day so a packet of pellets does last quite a while.
We worked out, based on each guinea pig having an eighth of a cup a day (or 2 tablespoons), that a 5lb (2.3kg) bag of Small Pet Select timothy hay based pellets contains enough dry food for almost 2 months for 2 guinea pigs. This works out at just under $10 a month which is great value for such a high quality feed.
Buying your guinea pig food in bulk will always save you money. So if you have a number of guinea pigs, we recommend you buy a much larger bag, providing you can use it within 3 months so it stays fresh.
Small Pet Select sells bags up to the weight of 50lb (22.7kg) which is huge! So this is a great way to buy top quality pellet food for your guinea pigs for a reasonable price.
Below is a list of several popular guinea pig foods together with their ingredients so you can compare these brands for yourself.
*RECOMMENDED BY GUINEA PIGGLES*
Timothy hay, soybean hulls, soybean meal, sodium bentonite, wheat middlings, molasses, calcium carbonate, lignin sulfonate, soybean oil, barley, salt, L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate, zinc amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, cobalt glucoheptonate, vitamin e supplement, choline chloride, manganese sulfate, niacin supplement, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, zinc sulfate, manganous oxide, yucca schidigera extract, zinc oxide, calcium pantothenate, folic acid, copper sulfate, vitamin b-12 supplement, vitamin A supplement, biotin, riboflavin supplement, vitamin d3 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin k activity), calcium iodate, selenium yeast, yeast culture, brewers dried yeast, dried saccharomyces cerevisiae Fermentation Solubles.
*RECOMMENDED BY GUINEA PIGGLES*
Timothy hay, soya bean hulls, flaked peas, ground soya bean meal, ground dried locust beans, pea flour, whole brown linseeds, soya bean oil, calcium carbonate, hydrolysed yeast, Yucca extract.
Nutritional Additives per kg
Vitamin A 37500 IU, Vitamin C 1000 mg, Vitamin D3 2000 IU, Iron (E1) 50 mg, Iodine (E2) 1.5 mg, Copper (E4) 7.5 mg, Manganese (E5) 30 mg, Zinc (E6) 100 mg, Selenium (E8) 0.25 mg
Alfalfa meal, whole wheat, wheat feed, soybean hulls, soybean meal, flaked peas, linseed, sugar beet pulp, soybean oil, fennel seeds, monocalcium phosphate, salt, calcium carbonate, dried dandelion. May contain genetically modified soya.
Nutritional Additives per kg
Vitamin A 23000IU/kg, Vitamin C 800mg/kg, Vitamin D? 1500IU/kg, Ferrous sulphate monohydrate 152mg/kg, Calcium iodate anhydrous 1.5mg/kg, Copper sulphate pentahydrate 20mg/kg, Manganese oxide 38mg/kg, Zinc oxide 62mg/kg, Sodium selenite 0.2mg/kg.
For mature guinea pigs (over 6 months)
Timothy Grass Meal, Soybean Hulls, Soybean Meal, Cane Molasses, Wheat Middlings, Sodium Bentonite, Soybean Oil, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate (Vitamin C), Monocalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Yeast Culture, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Zinc Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganous Oxide, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate
For young, pregnant or nursing guinea pigs only
Alfalfa Meal, Soybean Hulls, Soybean Meal, Wheat Middlings, Soybean Oil, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, Cane Molasses, Calcium Carbonate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate (Vitamin C), Sodium Bentonite, Hydrolyzed Yeast, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Yeast Culture, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganous Oxide, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate
Small Pet Select have a whole range of guinea pig products and have kindly given us a 15% discount code for you to use. This will be applied to your whole purchase and not just the hay. Use the code REFER-GPIGGLEUK and visit their online store here.
We’ve designed some helpful care sheets including checklists and record sheets that will help you keep organised and up to date with the care of your guinea pigs…Find out more...