Best Guinea Pig Food – What’s Healthy & Whats Not

A healthy guinea pig needs a high-quality source of extra vitamins and minerals, and most pet parents choose to get this from a pellet-style food.

But with a wide range of choices on the market, it can be hard to know which is the best for your piggy. We’re here to help, and after careful research, we’d like to share a few of our favorite options for your consideration.

Here’s a quick glance of the best guinea pig food:

*The products we recommend have been carefully selected and scrutinized: they contain no nuts, seeds, or fruit.

Guinea Pig Hay

Guinea Pig Food Reviews

Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food – Best pellet for young guinea pigs and pregnant or nursing sows

Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food - 10 lb
Amazon 

Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food is produced by a company that really knows the ins and outs of piggie nutrition. Formulated specifically for growing, pregnant, and nursing guinea pigs, this alfalfa-based pellet provides all the extra nutrition they need.

Made without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, Oxbow pellets are a top choice for veterinarians everywhere, and a brand you can trust.

Available in 5-, 10-, and 25-pound bags, expect fresh-smelling, uniform pellets packed with healthy ingredients and plenty of vitamins and minerals. This food includes the extra calcium and protein demanded by growing cavies, as well as the Vitamins A, D, E, and C essential for guinea pig health.

What you won’t find are seeds, nuts, fruits, or refined sugars–the junk-food common in commercial pellets.

Many pet parents find that coat condition improves quickly when they switch to these pellets, and most cavies love the taste.

Of course, feeding this rich food to adult guinea pigs will eventually cause problems, so reserve this for cavies under six months and for pregnant and nursing sows.

Pros:

  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Formulated with the help of veterinarians and nutritionists
  • Great nutrition to support growth, pregnancy, and nursing
  • Great taste–most cavies like it a lot!

Cons:

  • Expensive

Selective Naturals Grain Free Guinea Pig Food – Best grain-free pellet for adults

Selective Naturals Grain Free Guinea Pig Food
Amazon 

Some guinea pigs are extra-sensitive to grains and other carbohydrates, causing them to gain weight and risk diabetes. Savvy pet parents will often switch to a grain-free alternative, providing more of what the piggies need and less of what they don’t.

Our favorite grain-free is Selective Naturals Grain Free Guinea Pig Food. Made without artificial colors or added sugars, this food sticks closer to the natural diet of cavies by eliminating wheat and corn (as well as all the junk, like fruit), providing balanced nutrition for adult guinea pigs.

Its primary ingredient is high-quality Timothy hay, and a careful look at the ingredients has us satisfied that this is a great choice for piggies with weight problems.

Available in 3-pound bags, guinea pigs tend to really like the taste of this food.

The bad news? It’s among the most expensive options we reviewed.

Pros:

  • No artificial colors
  • No added sugars
  • No wheat or corn
  • Great nutrition to support adult piggies
  • Great taste–most cavies like it a lot!

Cons:

  • Very expensive

Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig Food – Best pellet for adults

Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig (Timothy Based), 10-Pound Bag
Amazon 

Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig Food is our top pick to meet the nutritional needs of adult guinea pigs. Made from high-quality ingredients, these pellets provide the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals adult cavies require.

Formulated in consultation with nutritionists and veterinarians, these pellets skip the junk: they contain no refined sugars or artificial ingredients of any kind. But what they do have is plenty of fiber–keeping the digestive system of adult cavies in tip-top shape–and all the vitamins and minerals they need to supplement a diet of fresh hay and veggies.

Made primarily from Timothy hay meal, these pellets are lower in protein, calcium, and calories than their Young Guinea Pig Food, supporting the needs of adults without risking kidney stones or the problems associated with too much protein or calories.

That said, Oxbow Essentials Adult Guinea Pig Food is generally very popular with piggies, and they will tend to overconsume it if given a chance. If that’s the case, either reduce your portion size or switch to a grain-free alternative like Selective Naturals.

Veterinarians everywhere recommend this brand, making it well worth the price.

Pros:

  • No artificial ingredients
  • Formulated with the help of veterinarians and nutritionists
  • Great nutrition to support adult guinea pigs without risking kidney stones
  • Great taste–most cavies like it a lot!

Cons:

  • Expensive

KMS Hayloft Timothy Choice Pellets

If you talk to experienced guinea pig enthusiasts, one name you’ll hear again and again is KMS. Many serious pet parents love their Hayloft Timothy Choice Pellets, and there’s simply no questioning the quality and care that goes into their products.

Formulated with the help of nutritionists and veterinarians, these pellets skip the corn and junk. Made in small batches, you can count on freshness, too. And KMS uses the best-stabilized source of Vitamin C, keeping these pellets rich in nutrition for as long as 200 days!

These pellets are formulated to meet the needs of adult guinea pigs, and as their name suggests, have Timothy hay as the primary ingredient.

They can be a bit hard to chew, and some piggies don’t like the taste. That kept KMS out of the top slot, but if you’re looking for an alternative to Oxbow, we recommend you give these a try.

Available in 2-, 5-, 10-, and 25-pound bags, as well as 10- and 5-pound pails, they offer a range of options for piggie families of all sizes.

Pros:

  • No corn
  • Top-quality ingredients
  • Formulated with the help of nutritionists and veterinarians
  • Great nutrition to support adult piggies
  • Small batch!
  • 200-day Vitamin C stabilization!

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Can be too hard for some piggies to chew
  • Not every guinea pig lies the taste of these pellets

Small Pet Select Guinea Pig Food Pellets

Small Pet Select Guinea Pig Food Pellets, 10-Pound
Amazon 

Small Pet Select Guinea Pig Food Pellets are another top pick for guinea pig insiders. Produced in small batches from premium ingredients, they supply the nutrition adult piggies need–and skip the junk.

Made primarily from Timothy hay sourced from the U.S, Small Pet Select is very careful about quality and freshness. Like KMS, they can guarantee that your pellets haven’t been sitting in a warehouse for months before you get them, and they use a proven, stabilized source of Vitamin C to ensure that your cavies get enough of that vital nutrient.

Available in 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-pound bags, they’ve got you covered no matter how large or small your piggy clan.

Expect a fresh hay scent when you open the bag, and you’ll find that most cavies love the taste!

What kept this from being our top pick for adult pellets was a long list of chemical ingredients. We prefer the simplicity of Oxbow, KMS, and Selective Naturals, and we think you will, too.

Pros:

  • Top-quality ingredients sourced in the US
  • Great nutrition to support adult piggies
  • Small batch!
  • Well-stabilized Vitamin C

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • A long list of chemicals in the ingredients

What You Should Consider When Selecting the Best Guinea Pig Pellets

Your piggy depends on you to make smart eating choices, and there are a few things you should keep in mind when selecting a good pellet to round out your fur baby’s diet.

Babies, mommies, and adult piggies don’t need the same food

As a guinea pig matures, its dietary needs change.

Young cavies are growing rapidly, and their bodies are busy building bones, muscle, and vital internal organs. They need more calcium (to promote healthy bones) and more protein (to provide growing muscles and organs with the building-blocks they need) than adults, and often more total calories, too.

Nursing sows need extra calcium and protein, as they’re producing milk to feed their babies.

Adult piggies still need high-quality pellets as a part of the diet, especially as a source of Vitamin C and to fill in any remaining nutritional gaps. Just like you, your guinea pig likes some foods more than others, and selective feeding can cause vitamin deficiencies that pellets help shore-up.

But a fully grown piggy doesn’t need the protein and calcium that a growing baby does, and too much of these important nutrients can cause problems for their kidneys–including kidney stones.

So what should you do?

Alfalfa vs. Timothy Hay-based pellets

Guinea pig pellets are made from one of two primary sources: alfalfa or Timothy Hay.

  • Alfalfa is rich in calories and contains a lot of calcium and protein. It’s an excellent source of these vital nutrients for young and nursing piggies, but provides too much of a good thing for adults.
  • Timothy hay is a primary food source for piggies, and pellets made from this excellent source of balanced nutrition are ideal for adults.

If your guinea pig is more than six months old and not nursing, the pellets you feed it should be made from Timothy hay.

How much should you feed your piggies?

The kind people at the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue recommend that “Guinea pigs should be given a pellet based food – about 1/8 cup per guinea pig per day.” But “for pregnant, nursing, or guinea pigs six months or less, pellets should be available at all times even if this means feeding more than 1/8 cup per day.”

The general rule of thumb is ⅛ cup per piggy, per day for adults, and essentially unlimited amounts for young or nursing piggies.

Overfeeding pellets to adult guinea pigs is a common cause of obesity and diabetes. Always measure and assess the portions you provide your cavie!

Fresh pellets are a great source of Vitamin C

Just like you, guinea pigs can’t produce Vitamin C on their own, and they must get it from the food they eat.

Healthy cavies need a balanced diet consisting mostly of hay, fresh vegetables, and commercially available pellets (to bridge any nutritional gaps).

That said, the Humane Society insists that pellets alone are insufficient for two reasons.

First, guinea pigs need fresh hay in their diet every day, both to improve digestion and to help keep their teeth in tip-top shape. And since aging pellets quickly start to lose their vitamin content, fresh veggies like kale, romaine lettuce, parsley, and spinach, as well as a bit of carrot, zucchini, and sweet potato, provide all the nutrients your furry friends need to grow and flourish (in conjunction with pellets).

Good piggy parents know that a constant supply of hay and the right vegetables will ensure that their tiny buddies get what they need! Unfortunately, not every guinea pig gets the recommended vitamins and minerals from fresh food and pellets, leading to Vitamin C deficiency and sometimes scurvy, as well.

Remember: unlimited fresh hay every day and about one cup of nutritious vegetables per day, per piggy. An additional ⅛ cup of high-quality, fresh pellets should provide plenty of Vitamin C to keep your fur baby healthy.

Additions like dried fruit, seeds, nuts, corn, and cereals are not healthy

Lots of commercial pellets include things like corn, seeds, fruits, and nuts. And while these make the pellets look appetizing to you–all those bright colors and cool shapes!–they’re really bad for your guinea pig.

Veterinarians and guinea pig experts alike warn that this is inappropriate food for cavies! And from obesity to diabetes, choking hazards to potentially lethal digestive disorders, these additions are dangerous!

As the Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue says, “Pellets fed to guinea pigs of any age should be free from ‘junk’ like nuts, seeds, etc., which cause obesity and pose a choking hazard.” The North Carolina State Veterinary Hospital’s Exotic Animal Medicine Department concurs: “Pellets should be plain, timothy-based pellets, with no seeds, nuts, or dried fruit.”

Just say no to pellets like this.

The products we recommend have been carefully selected and scrutinized: they contain no nuts, seeds, or fruit.

We’d love to find pellets that don’t contain molasses or a sugary binder to hold the pellets together, but so far, we’ve had no luck!

Final Thoughts

Let’s quickly review the basics:

    • Guinea pigs need unlimited fresh hay in their diet every day, both to improve digestion and to help keep their teeth in tip-top shape.
    • They also need one cup per day of fresh veggies like kale, romaine lettuce, parsley, and spinach, as well as a bit of carrot, zucchini, and sweet potato from time to time.
    • To complete their diet, a high-quality pellet is recommended by veterinarians.
    • Remember: unlimited fresh hay every day and about one cup of nutritious vegetables per day, per piggy. An additional ⅛ cup of high-quality, fresh pellets should provide plenty of Vitamin C and other nutrients to keep your guinea pig healthy.
  • But veterinarians warn that common pellet additions like corn, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit are inappropriate for guinea pigs, offering a choking hazard and far too much sugar.

With that in mind, it’s important to select a premium pellet that’s nutritious and doesn’t add any junk.

The products on our list do just that, and from babies to nursing moms, adults, and piggies who could stand to lose a few ounces, we’ve got you covered. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to guinea pig pellets, you’ll find just what you need in our recommendations.

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