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The Proper Diet


Hay is THE most important part of your small animals’ diet. Guinea Pigs have what are known as open-rooted teeth. Their teeth never stop growing and hay keeps their teeth grinded down to prevent painful and dangerous overgrown teeth. Hay also prevents GI Stasis 

If guinea pigs and rabbits do not have food moving through their systems at all times, they can go into stasis, a very severe issue that can quickly result in the death of your pet (it only takes 12 hours of no food for this to happen!)

That is why hay is REQUIRED in unlimited amounts 24/7. Hay is not a treat. Hay is not optional. Hay is a necessary staple to your pets’ life!

Types of Hays You Can Feed

Hay is categorized by its cuttings (1st cutting of the season, 2nd cuttings of the season, and 3rd cutting of the season), softness/hardness, amount of stem and leaf, as well as amounts of protein, fiber, and fat. Timothy and Orchard Grass Hays are the most common. Orchard is a great substitute for Timothy if you have allergies to Timothy Hay!

Timothy Hay
is very easy to find both online and in pet stores. Timothy hay is high in fiber and low in protein and calcium. This hay contains coarse stems that provide great nibbling material for keeping teeth ground down while remaining nutrient rich enough to give your pigs what they need.
Timothy Hay (cont.)
As for all hay cuttings, 1st and 2nd cuttings are the most beneficial, but tend to be off-putting to some pigs due to the coarseness of the stems. I recommend a mixture of a 1st or 2nd cutting with a 3rd cutting or softer hay such as Orchard Grass to give them variety!
Orchard Grass Hay
Orchard grass hay is similar to Timothy hay in terms of nutrition. However, it is a much less coarse and much softer hay which isn't the best for keeping their teeth ground down. Like mentioned in the Timothy Hay slide, it is great for mixing in with Timothy Hay and makes a good "treat hay". You may also be able to find coarser cuts of orchard hay, particularly online.
Treat Hays
Oat hay is actually a grain-based hay, meaning it’s higher in natural fats and sweetness. This is not a good hay to feed as your primary hay source. It does make a great treat every once in a while! Just remember it can be fattening so feed in moderation:) | Meadow Hay or other hays mixed with herbs or vegetables also make great treat hays. Once again, make sure to feed these in moderation and in addition to their staple hay.
Alfalfa Hay
Alfalfa is a legume type hay that is high in fiber, protein, and calcium. It tends to also be very leafy. It is not for Guinea Pigs over the age of 6 months. It is, however, wonderful for young (<6months), pregnant and nursing pigs. Alfalfa hay should never be used its own due to the high calcium content. Offering it to young, nursing, or pregnant pigs in addition to another staple hay (Timothy, Orchard) is the best way to go!


Pellets should only make up 5-10% of your guinea pigs’ daily diet. They only require 1/8 cup per pig per day (1 tablespoon for Sherwood Pet Health Timothy Pellets). We will have a dedicated topic on pellets soon:)

I am a strong believer in Sherwood Pet Health Pellets. They contain no soy, wheat, or ANY fillers! You can learn about their Worry-Free Diet Plan here 

I have inserted some graphics from Sherwood’s website below.

Oxbow Pellets are second best (IMO)

You’d be surprised how many fillers and unnecessary ingredients are in Oxbow. They are definitely one of the better pellets you can get, but they certainly are not the best. I will highlight a few ingredients that guinea pigs should not have that are in most pellets, including Oxbow. 

At the end of the day, pellets make up a very small fraction of their daily diet, but I encourage you to take a look at your pellets and give Sherwood a try. My pigs have improved so much since switching in 2018.

Fruits and Veggies

In general, guinea pigs and rabbits should be fed around 1 cup of veggies per day. Take a look at the chart below to know which veggies are good to feed everyday and which to feed sparingly.

Fruit should be fed as a very rare treat.

Get The My Guinea Pig App! It is a wonderful resource for safe foods to feed as well as advice! *I haven't personally gone through the app entirely yet, but it looks very resourceful 🙂


95% of commercial treats you find in pet stores are NOT suitable for guinea pigs and rabbits and many can even be dangerous! They are marketed towards US and not the wellbeing of your pets.

Those are just a few of many inappropriate treats for guinea pigs and rabbits.

Oxbow Simple Rewards Freeze dried treats are actually good treats! And of course, everything we sell at The Natural Cavy has no sugar, fillers, or preservatives so everything we sell here you can rest easy knowing there's nothing bad for your babies!

2 thoughts on “The Proper Diet

  1. Good info, but I would like to add that there is an app called “my guinea pigs” that is checked mostly by saskia from lagpr (i think there may also be a rabbit one) and it shows a lot of foods and whether they are safe for guinea pigs! Also i think the romaine lettuce being where it is may be invalid ♡ love ya -threedaysskillet

    1. Ooh someone else mentioned that app before! It’s great! I’ll actually link that app in! Thank you so much for your comment!! ❤️❤️


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