Guinea Pigs like humans do not produce Vitamin C and need to be given it daily to ensure good health. Lack of vitamin C will cause scurvy. To maintain a good diet each Guinea Pig should be given 10mgs of vitamin C per day to 1kg body weight.
Pets Stores and Super Markets sell Guinea Pig food that has a vitamin C supplement. However this is not recommended as the only source of vitamin C for your piggie's.
Fig. 1 was brought as Gerty Guinea Pig. However since finding out about Gerty Guinea Pig food I have noticed that a lot of pet stores call random Guinea Pig food gerty. However in Super Markets and Chain Pet Stores they sell the pre-bagged Gerty Guinea Pig food in sealed bags. Kornage and Millie prefer this Guinea Pig food to the others.
Fig.2 This is hard pellets of Guinea Pig food with added vitamin C. I thought I would buy this just to try them on it. They were not over keen. Nutmeg ate most of it but didn't tuck in to it like she does the food in fig. 3.
Fig.3 This is a no name Guinea Pig food with added vitamin C. This is Nutmeg's favourite dried food. However she doesn't like the seeds or the yellow flakes in it. None of my Piggie's seem to like seeds or yellow flakes.
They like the flat green flakes which I think are squashed peas? If I am wrong somebody please correct me. I did buy extra of these from a Pet store that had sacks of just Pea Flakes. I have since read online that these should not be fed to a Guinea Pig in large amounts. I do not know if this is correct or not.
Although all the different kinds of food I have mentioned are designed for Guinea Pig's, you can not really compensate giving Guinea Pigs fresh vegetables daily. Not only are they good for them due to being full of vitamins but they actually much prefer the fresh stuff. They don't get quite as excited when I put down a bowl of dry food as they do when I put them down a mixture of all their favourite veggies.
I am no expert when it comes to what vitamins are in which vegetables. So I am going to give you a rough guide going on what I have been feeding my Guinea Pig's.
Daily my Guinea Pigs will get a random mix from the following list:
Cucumber: If you own a Guinea Pig then you must have 'Plenty Of Cucumber!'
They love it! All four pig's with a plate in front of them with EVERY THING you can imagine on will always pick cucumber first!. When I got Kornage I hadn't kept Guinea Pigs before and didn't really know a lot about them. I did notice he didn't drink as much as my hamster so I was concerned. I fed him cucumber initially because I felt it meant he was definitely getting some kind of water intake. I have since noticed that Guinea Pig's do not drink a lot. Millie however is an exception to this and can drink a bottle of water in 24 hours. She seems to always be at the water bottle. I was worried she wasn't able to use the bottle but the fact that air bubble rise when she drinks is an indication that it works fine.
First thing in the morning I always give my piggie's a slice of cucumber each. When I come downstairs and go in the kitchen to make a cup of tea as soon as I open my fridge they will start mweeping to remind me not to forget them. It's the most awful feeling to hear them mweeping when you have run out of cucumber! This is why I buy plenty, at present a weeks shopping consists of at least 4 cucumbers. That's a cucumber per piggy, however I normally start to run out towards the end of the week and have to get more.
I give my piggie's about 4 slices each per day of cucumber. It really depends, if it's a hot day I feed them cucumber that's been in the fridge and is chilled. I think it must be refreshing for them and help to cool them down even if only for 5 min's. I also keep one out on the side so it ripens more. When they are ripe they become very juicy and I feel are a good source of water on days when they could become dehydrated.
As much as they love cucumber it however does not contain any goodness for them as its made up of water. Cucumber should not be given as a source of vitamin C It is more of a treat for them.
Carrots: I would say they are not over keen on carrots. However I find out of most of the fresh vegetables these do tend to keep well in the fridge. When you can buy carrots with the leaves still attached you should because they like the leaves too.
Celery: All of the celery is good. I used to buy celery with no leaves. Now I buy the most leafy bunch I can.
Peppers: These are very full of vitamin C and very good for Guinea Pigs. I have read online that 1/7th of a green bell pepper is enough vitamin C for a piggy a day. I tend to buy lots of different coloured ones and give a different kind each day. I cut up half of one to share out between them. Clean out all of the seeds when you give them to your Guinea Pig. I have read time and time again that no kind of seeds should be fed to Guinea Pigs. I am not sure if its because they can be toxic or fattening. However seeds is something I avoid giving them.
Parsley: This is a great source of vitamin C and they love it. Also you can grow it very easily in your garden. Supermarkets sell this fresh and its very cheap.
Baby Sweet Corn: My Guinea Pig's love baby sweet corn when it is still fresh and crunchy. Be warned if they are sat on you when they eat this it makes a real mess!
Fresh corn on the cob: When you can buy these fresh in season (Not the frozen type) I buy one and put it in the cage. The pigs are not over keen on this but do like to drag it in to a hidey hole and sit and munch on it.
Apple: My piggie's only like certain kinds of apple. I buy old fashioned english apples, the yellowish with red splashes on. I do not feed them this often as I have read that apples can cause blistering around the Guinea Pig's mouth from the acid in them. I have never experienced this but have noted this and only feed apple about twice a week.
I think the green crunchy apples are more acidic than the old english and never feed them that kind.
Melon: My lot like to eat the skin of honey due melons. They are not so keen on the other kinds. I give them chilled melon on hot days when I have one.
Cauliflower leaves: It occurred to me when throwing away the leaves on a cauliflower that my pig's may actually like them. They do like the leafy part but not the stalk. They do not like the flower of it.
Broccoli: This is a good source of vitamin C but sometimes my pig's eat it and others they wont touch it.
Grapes: You can give Guinea Pig's a grape occasionally but they must be seedless. I haven't read anything about it but I do assume that if you gave a Guinea Pig too many of these it would surely upset their stomachs. So I would make this a treat now and then rather than part of their diet.
03/12/08 - Today I recieved an email from a lady who has heard different about grapes she wrote:-
I wanted to let you know that my vet told me that grapes may cause kidney failure. My guinea pig had 1/2 grape 2 weeks ago and now may have kidney disease. The vet said it's been proven to cause kidney trouble in dogs but just hasn't been proven yet in guinea pigs. Just thought you may want to put a warning on your web page as a safety precaution.
09/01/09 - Another email regarding grapes
i have just been reading through the fresh foods you feed your guinea pigs and i got to the section about grapes. i know that grapes are very high in natural sugars and as a result are fattening to guinea pigs, especially if they don't do a lot of exercise.
Cranberry Juice: My pigs like this sometimes. It's a very high source of vitamin C and can be fed to them with a syringe. I have found my piggie's like cranberry and raspberry juice but I assume if I give them too much it will upset their stomach.
I have been advised to include this in the list of things that should be fed to Guinea Pigs on a regular basis. It is said to give them strong teeth and a shiny coat. The lady who wrote to me said she gave her Guinea Pigs 3 heads a day to eat in thier diet.
Iceburg lettuce should not be given due to toxin which cause an upset stomach.
I have found that my pigs definitely do not like strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes.
What not to feed a Guinea Pig!!
Ice-burg lettuce is not suposed to be fed to Guinea Pig's because it contains toxins, however dark leaved lettuce is a good source of vitamins.
Spring Onion: These should not be fed to a Guinea Pig
Cakes, biscuits, chocolate and dairy products should never be given to Guinea Pigs. It is very important to a Guinea Pigs digestive system that you do not incorporate this in to their diet.
Meat should never be fed to Guinea Pigs, they are 100% vegetarian.
Dark green leaved vegetables. I am not going to suggest you feed your Cavy on any of these. After a discussion with the vet about them I have decided to withdraw them from their diet. I had been told that spinach was something you could give to them rarely and they do love it but too much can cause an upset stomach. Green beans are also included in this list. I wanted the vet's advice and he said he wouldn't give a Guinea Pig this and in fact he felt all of the real dark green leaved vegetables were no good in their diet.
Potatoes should never be offered to them, I read online that Guinea Pigs tend to know what they can and can't eat from it's taste. When I first got Kornage I read that you could feed them potatoes and he didn't eat it, also when they are in the garden they taste weeds before eating them and there are type they wont eat. I have since read on many sites that you should never feed a Guinea Pig potatoes so I kind of figure the theory about they know what to eat is right from the way Kornage turned his nose up at them.
I could go on listing food here all night. However I think if you just do some research on food before you give it to them to make sure you its ok and try and find a good balance of vitamin C with out too much calcium then your piggie should stay in good health.
I found on this site that they had a good list of nutrition value information on various things you would feed to a Guinea Pig.