Picking the best this or that is overly used in most reviews. However, when it comes to fragile and picky animals like guinea pigs, getting the right food becomes a real drag. Sure, there are some foods and brands that are better than others. But these furry rodents have huge personalities and exquisite palates.
Just because you’re buying the most nutritious and loaded bag of food doesn’t mean your pets will eat any of it. Guinea pigs are probably more picky than cats and that’s saying a lot. At the end of the day, getting the right food for your tiny friends will involve a lot of trial and error unless you’re very lucky.
Be that as it may, you should still look for certain vitamins, minerals, and specific food group combinations when buying your first pack or when trying to change their diet. Here are my most trusted brands when it comes to guinea pig food.
8 Great Options in Guinea Pig Food
- 8 Great Options in Guinea Pig Food
- 1. Higgins Sunburst (6lb)
- 2. F.M. Brown’s Tropical Carnival (5, 10lb)
- 3. Vitakraft VitaSmart High Fiber Timothy Formula (8lb)
- 4. Oxbow Essentials Young Guinea Pig Food (1-10lb)
- 5. Small Pet Select Timothy Based Guinea Pig Food (5, 10, 15lb)
- 6. Wild Harvest WH-83545 (4.5lb)
- 7. Oxbow Essentials Adult (5lb)
- 8. Kaytee Timothy Complete (5lb)
- Guinea Pig Dietary Demands
- How Important are Pellets Really?
- More Guinea Pigs Feeding Tips
Higgins’ guinea pig pellets seem to have a good approval rating from the little rodents, which is very important when picking out a bag. This blend comes in a 6lbs back which should be enough for a few months if you have a pair of adult guinea pigs.
The nutritional value is just as good as the taste, as the ingredients are vegetable seeds, fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. The various seeds are chosen for their content of omega fatty acids. The high fiber content should help optimize digestion especially if you don’t have access to high-quality hay.
Keep in mind that pellets are not supposed to completely replace hay or veggies because they may not meet the minimum daily recommended values of vitamin C and fiber for guinea pigs. Overall, the bag is affordable and offers great value.
This blend of pellets uses a combination of Timothy hay and alfalfa as a base. It also features plenty of added nutrients as well as a good mix of pellets and other dried foods in order to bring some variety to the diet.
The formula is designed with guinea pigs’ dietary needs in mind, which means it contains a good portion of the daily vitamin C requirement that your pets will need to avoid scurvy. The added probiotics are also a nice touch and should ensure proper digestion.
What’s especially interesting is the addition of Zoo Vital biscuits which are known to promote teeth and gum health. If you’re looking for something that’s rich in fiber and relatively cheap, F.M. Brown’s Tropical Carnival is a worthy option in my book.
The Vitakraft VitaSmart is a fiber-rich Timothy hay formula with a good blend of fatty acids, natural oils, minerals, and probiotics along with a high vitamin C content.
In terms of fulfilling a guinea pig’s daily dietary requirements, Vitakraft is right on the money with this formula. But in terms of taste it’s a bit debatable. The pellets seem a bit bland. It looks great in the bowl but may not appeal to the pickiest guinea pigs.
There’s also something to be said about buying larger bags if you only have a pair of guinea pigs. The shelf life of this mix is ok but the taste can deteriorate quickly unless you put the content in an airtight container.
This formula is rich in fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A and low in calcium and proteins, which makes it pretty much spot on when it comes to the strict dietary requirements of guinea pigs. You can also order it in 1, 5, or 10lbs bag which is always nice since not everyone has access to optimal storage conditions.
This is a young guinea pig formula with smaller pellets that are fortified with all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed for healthy development.
Unlike dog food and cat food, young guinea pig foods actually have lower calories and calcium, and this one is no exception. So you’ll still have to buy regular guinea pig food for your adult guinea pigs instead of sharing this bag.
If you’re searching for high-end pellets then Small Pet Select will always be one of the brands that deliver quality in every bag. The pellets are small but they are fresh and made from only Timothy hay which is good for both young and adult guinea pigs.
This food comes in as large as 25-pound bags but the 5lbs bags are by far the best option for freshness, though not necessarily value on a per pound basis. Smaller batches always maintain their freshness better which means that the guinea pigs are more likely to continue eating the pellets. But if you have more than a few of them, the larger bags will be much cheaper in the long run.
The nutritional values are clearly spelled out in the back: 25-29% fiber, 14% protein, 2% fat, 0.4-0.6% calcium, 400mg/kg vitamin C, etc. It is suitable for guinea pigs of all ages.
Wild Harvest’s WH-83545 blend is a very nice alternative to other gourmet blends formulated for guinea pigs. I like that it doesn’t feature just pellets but a rather wide range of dried seeds, nuts, grains, and vegetables.
Maintaining food freshness is important in order to maintain the taste. The flip-top container does a great job at this, and one could argue a lot better than the bags that most guinea pig foods come in.
The variety of food groups would be nothing if it was not fortified with enough vitamin C to supplement the hay and raw vegetable meal. And, since this mix has a rather low level of calcium, the WH-83545 is that much better if your guinea pigs actually end up eating everything off the plate.
This 5lbs bag contains a good mix of Timothy hay pellets but not a lot in terms of dried food variety. The pellets are enriched with vitamin C, although not as much as Oxbow’s young guinea pig food selection.
What is nice to see is very low calcium and protein contents, a lot lower than what you get from most competitor products. The pellets contain 25% fiber which is a great value for adults that also get a constant supply of fresh hay.
Because there aren’t many other food groups included in the blend, the pellets may fail the taste test. However, they look a lot greener than most pellets at this price range, so your guinea pigs may be swayed to at least try them for a while.
A 100% Timothy hay-based formula will always mean less protein, calories, and most importantly, less calcium. This is good for both young and adult guinea pigs. However, the 200mg/kg of vitamin C and the ingredients don’t make this blend the best in terms of nutrition.
For the money, though, it’s great for teeth and gum health as well as digestive health. The amounts of probiotics and prebiotics and the rich fiber content are something guinea pigs need at all ages.
But does this pass the taste test? – It’s not for any guinea pig, I’ll tell you that. There’s no denying the freshness of the pellets but they are at the end of the day just pellets. They’re not mixed with many fruits, veggies, seeds, or nuts, which makes them quite bland.
Guinea Pig Dietary Demands
A major concern with guinea pigs is that they can’t naturally synthesize vitamin C. Therefore, food groups that have a high concentration of vitamin C are essential. Always have a decent supply of cucumbers, carrots, Brussel sprouts, and spinach. Remember that just because some food groups have a high concentration of vitamin C doesn’t mean your guinea pigs should eat them.
Guinea pigs also have a demanding digestive system which calls for lots of fiber in their diet. That’s where the hay comes in, as most vegetables that guinea pigs eat aren’t rich in fiber.
Fresh water is also a must-have. If you notice that you’re not changing enough water on a daily basis, it could mean that your guinea pigs aren’t getting enough vitamin C and thus aren’t thirsty.
How Important are Pellets Really?
Although highly popular, pellets are not nearly as important as hay for guinea pigs. Fresh grass hay does a better job of keeping tooth growth in check. Although pellets are rich in nutrients and can give a boost of vitamin C, they don’t contain as much fiber as hay.
Timothy hay for example, is widely regarded as the best grass hay for guinea pigs. It improves the digestive process, helps slow down tooth growth, and cleans the teeth at the same time.
Although pellets are necessary, most recommendations call for a maximum of ¼ cups of pellets a day for an adult guinea pig. That’s on top of veggies and the constant supply of hay.
Pellets may do a good job but you can’t always force them on your guinea pigs. The reason why certain blends are better than others is because they also feature other dried food groups which improve the taste and offer some chewing variety that guinea pigs are more likely to appreciate.
More Guinea Pigs Feeding Tips
General consensus puts the daily veggie limit at about one cup a day for adult guinea pigs. A varied selection should give them enough to satisfy their dietary needs and their constantly growing teeth. But there are some restrictions you need to know about.
A high-calcium diet is not recommended. Guinea pigs are susceptible to developing bladder stones and a wide range of other health issues including uncontrollable tooth growth.
A good balance of veggies and pellets is also necessary in order to give your furry pets enough nutrients. If you can cover 10 to 30mg of vitamin C a day by combining veggies and pellets then the diet is adequate at least when it comes to overcoming their natural vitamin C deficiency.
Overfeeding guinea pigs is a real problem. They have a propensity to eat a lot as long as they enjoy the flavor. Obesity and kidney problems are common problems, which can be avoided if you carefully monitor their food intake.
Although some variety is needed, both for nutritional value and improving the taste, try to stay away from guinea pig food blends that have too many seeds. Although guinea pigs like them and need them, they won’t always eat them if they’re very small. This essentially means that you’re wasting money just for the sake of dried food variety on the plate.
Treat Your Guinea Pigs Well
Although this may seem pretentious, it’s a fact that guinea pigs are more demanding than other small furry pets. At least when it comes to food. But since their taste palate is not the only thing that matters, you should put in some extra thought before settling on a brand.
My favorite guinea pig food blends will get the job done, but will your guinea pigs like all of them? – Probably not. But you can’t escape the trial and error part of finding that one brand that satisfies your pets and keeps them healthy.
Patrice has been an animal lover, right from her childhood. She’s currently enjoying the company of her cat, dog, aquarium fishes, and a few small furry companions.