Guinea pigs are very popular pets (and we love them here at East Bend Animal Hospital). Not only are they adorable, but they make great pets. They are sweet, social, and great companions. They have a life expectancy of 5-8 years, so if you are adding one to your household, it is important to be aware of this.
Guinea pigs should be housed in an enclosure that is at least 30” x 36” (the larger, the better). Bedding should consist of recycled paper, pine shavings, or fleece. Their enclosure should include environmental enrichment that includes toys, tunnels, and bridges. Their ideal temperature is 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit; Guinea pigs tolerate cooler temperatures better than hotter temperature. Housing should always include accessible food and fresh water. Some guinea pigs prefer sippy bottles for their fresh water; others prefer a bowl. Be sure to cater to your guinea pig’s preference.
A guinea pig’s diet should consist of 80% timothy hay (we recommend Oxbow timothy hay), 15% fresh veggies, and 5% pellet. Guinea pigs do not require fruit in their diet, but it can be given once a week as a treat (in a very small amount). Pellets should always be timothy based and not contain alfalfa in them).
Guinea pigs are unable to produce Vitamin C on their own. It is imperative to provide supplemental Vitamin C in their diet (10-30mg per kg of their body weight daily) to help prevent scurvy. The daily recommendation is about 25-50 mg daily.
Vegetables that are naturally high in Vitamin C, that are safe to feed guinea pigs, include: green bell pepper (89.3 mg per 100 grams), red bell pepper (190 mg per 100 grams), yellow bell pepper (184 mg per 100 grams), orange bell pepper (155 mg per 100 grams), broccoli (93 mg per 100 grams) and parsley (133 mg per 100 grams).
We do not recommend giving Vitamin C water additives as these are not as effective as fresh vegetables or supplements in tablet for. Speak with your veterinarian for guidance in selecting the best Vitamin C for your guinea pig
Guinea pigs’ teeth are constantly growing. It is imperative to provide plenty of rough material for them to chew on. Great options include apple wood branches, untreated wood, and plenty of fresh timothy hay to chew. Occasionally guinea pigs do need their teeth filed by a veterinarian if they do not wear evenly; have your guinea pigs teeth evaluated by your veterinarian every 6 to 12 months.
To keep your guinea pig happy and healthy for as long as possible, we recommend annual or biannual examinations, fecal exams (to check for parasites), and bloodwork as recommended by a veterinarian.