|This is the
very basics of food requirements, for new piggie owners. Additional
discussions regarding food and other health topics will be found at
Always buy the best food
for your piggie! My piggies eat better than I do! Food and nutrition
play a big role in health; the better the nutrition, the better
the chances for good health and a long life.
We are finding out how
important guinea pig nutrition is. A guinea pig's life expectancy
is six to eight years - up 50% from the four to six years everyone
"accepted" in the eighties. We hope that as veterinary
medical trends and nutrition continue to improve, lifespans will
be even longer.
A high-quality guinea
pig food pellet should always be used. Many food pellets contain
animal by-products that have been preserved with a compound called
ethoxyquin. This preservative (which is also used as a rubber stabilizer)
is a topic of debate, with claims ranging from causing to preventing
cancer. That’s too big a point spread for me. Until they prove it
safe, I try to avoid it from going in my piggies’ mouths. You can
read more about ethoxyquin and draw your own conclusions from these
Other food "additives"
such as seeds and "crunchies" do nothing except offer added calories
- something a basically chubby animal does not need! Treats, such
as seeds, etc. should be just that: something that is fed on an
occasional and controlled basis, not as a staple. For example, Oxbow
Hay Company offers a full-range of excellent food that
does not rely on animal by-products or chemical preservatives.
|In addition to the pelleted
food, a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits can be offered: apples,
carrots, melon and sweet bell peppers are all favorites. Lettuce is
also enjoyed by piggies, but "varieties" such as Romaine or Red and
Green Leaf lettuce should be used, not iceberg which is nutritionally
useless. Greens should be fed sparingly, as they can cause diarrhea.
hay should also be offered free-choice: younger piggies (and piggie-mothers-to-be)
benefit from alfalfa hay, but as the piggie matures (after 10 months
to a year), it is better to switch to timothy hay, as it is less fattening,
and contains less calcium than alfalfa, which could cause problems
in later life (it is suspected that excess calcium may cause bladderstones
in some piggies). Both Oxbow and American
Pet Diner offer excellent hay.
|Make sure your piggie
has a water bottle that suits his drinking habits (piggies will drink
from 2 to 16 ounces a day, depending on the piggie. The average is
about 6 - 8 ounces). Change the water daily, and be sure the sipper
tube is working: piggies love to play "backwash" and spit chewed goop
into the sipper tube!