What Kind of Hay Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

Guinea pigs are one of the most commonly kept pets.

That’s because they’re easy to take care of and do not ask for too much of your time or energy.

They are great company because they shower you with love and affection once they get to know you.

However, if you are going to be a responsible guinea pig owner, you need to know how to take proper care of the tiny creature that depends solely on you.

You should know what kind of hay you can safely feed it, because they love chewing on hay. The best kinds of hay that a guinea pig can eat include timothy or alfalfa hay.

What Hay Should You Get for Your Guinea Pig?

Hay is essential for a guinea pig’s wellbeing because it helps them with their digestion and keeps their teeth in shape.

Guinea pigs always need to be chewing on something to keep their teeth from growing too much out of proportion and most people choose to get the hay.

This is because it’s a safe alternative to a toy or a branch that could end up being a choking hazard.

Most guinea pigs can have two different kinds of hay.

One is grass hay and the other is legume hay.

Grass hay provides fiber, calcium, and calories while legume hay provides high levels of protein, calcium, and also calories, but doesn’t have the same amount of fiber.

Among the kinds of legume hay that you can purchase for your guinea pig, the favorite choice among guinea pigs and their owners is alfalfa.

This kind of hay is usually used to add a little flavor to your guinea pig’s diet, because it is important that you try to switch things up every once in a while.

Alfalfa hay is also used like a supplement that you can give your guinea pig whenever they’re running low on their usual energy levels.

When your cavy becomes a young adult, it is likely going to be very active, meaning that you will have to provide more nutrients for it than you used to.

One way of adding nutrients to its diet is by letting your guinea pig have hay every once in a while.

When Should You Feed Guinea Pigs Legume Hay?

There are different circumstances when you should offer legume hay to your guinea pig.

  • If your guinea pig is pregnant or lactating, they lose out on a lot of calcium and nutrients while trying to keep their newborn healthy. You need to ensure that they’re getting a stable supply of additional nutrients like proteins that they’re missing so that they can continue to feed their baby while remaining healthy themselves.
  • When your guinea pig has not yet become a fully grown adult, they are constantly burning energy and using nutrients. At this age, guinea pigs are very active and that is how you know they’re healthy. However, if you don’t keep up with their growth and feed them hay for that extra boost of energy, they could become unhealthy and lethargic.
  • Guinea pigs that are sick or are recovering from an injury are in need of more nutrients and calories to help them heal. They’ll need a healthy diet as it is, but with the addition of supplements that the hay provides, their healing process will be faster.

What Are the Benefits of Alfalfa Hay?

Legume hay is not really like the traditional kind of hay you’re used to seeing. It looks more like peas.

Although many guinea pig owners feed alfalfa hay to their pets, there are certain restrictions for when you can use it.

Alfalfa is not always the healthiest choice for a grown guinea pig, because the calories in it can be too high for an adult.

This doesn’t mean that your guinea pig can never have alfalfa, because it can be beneficial when they’re sick and need extra energy.

Alfalfa can also be effective in keeping pregnant guinea pigs healthy, when it is fed to them in small amounts.

It is safer to take the advice of your veterinarian before getting any kinds of hay that you don’t think are safe for them to consume.

When Should You Feed Them Grass Hay?

Grass hay is also an essential part of a guinea pig’s healthy diet.

  • When your guinea pig is struggling with digestive issues or has been falling ill, you could try using grass hay to help ease its stomach pain. The stem of the hay is what helps the digestive system stay functioning properly.
  • Many grown guinea pigs need grass hay because it adds the necessary fibers they need as a part of their diet, minus the protein.
  • When your guinea pig’s teeth start to get too big, giving it grass hay to chew on can help keep the teeth in shape without causing your guinea pig pain.

Grass hay is essentially an integral part of your guinea pig’s diet when they have reached the adult stage.

The hay keeps their teeth in shape, as well as their digestive system.

You can opt for a number of different kinds of grass hay, like Bermuda, oat, orchard grass, and timothy hay.

What Are the Benefits of Timothy Hay?

When choosing among the different kinds of grass hay their guinea pig might want, most pet owners opt for timothy hay.

This is because it is the best option to keep their digestive system healthy and also keep their teeth in their optimal shape so your guinea pig doesn’t have difficulty eating.

You need to be wary of the kind of timothy hay you are providing to your guinea pig, because there are different cuttings that affect how beneficial the hay is.

Second and third cutting timothy hay is preferred by most guinea pigs because it is softer to chew on and provides them with the nutrients they need as well.

Another reason why guinea pigs prefer timothy hay is that they enjoy its taste and they like to chew on the stems.

You can use this hay as a supplement or a treat occasionally, but it cannot be made a primary part of their diet.

Hay is only a supplement that can be used alongside a proper, fulfilling diet and not as the main course itself.

How Much Hay Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig?

It’s okay to leave hay in your guinea pig’s cage all the time.

As long as it stays clean and isn’t coming into contact with the litter box, you can keep placing a fresh stock of hay in the cage whenever it runs out.

However, over-feeding your guinea pig with hay or making it the primary part of its diet is not preferred.

You can place timothy hay in the hay feeder for your guinea pig to be able to access at any time it wants.

This will keep its teeth healthy and will be a nutritious pastime on a lazy day.

Guinea pigs usually need something to chew on at all times, so giving them hay is a safe and healthy way to keep their teeth in shape.

As long as you’ve fed your guinea pig the food pellets it needs to meet its dietary needs, a regular supply of hay is harmless.

Give your guinea pig around 1/8th of a cup of pellets daily, with a side of legumes and grass hay for a full meal.

Final Thoughts

In case you’re worried that your guinea pig might not react positively to the hay, for example, if it has a tendency to get an upset stomach, then talk to your veterinarian first.

Usually, if there are instances of illness because of hay, it is because your guinea pig was having too much hay and nothing else.

However, if your guinea pig is pregnant or lactating, going through an illness, or is still growing, you should check with your vet to see how much hay you should be feeding it.

In most circumstances, a vet will tell you that a regular supply of grass hay is usually safe for them to chew on.

Make sure that the hay in your guinea pig’s cage is always fresh.

It should not be lying untouched in the cage for days on end, because it will start to go rotten or become contaminated from the germs in your guinea pig’s cage.

If you see that your guinea pig does not enjoy chewing on hay or leaves large amounts of it uneaten, reduce the quantity you are feeding it.

Some guinea pigs naturally do not have the inclination to chew on hay and may prefer something else, like wood or a chew toy.

Check that the kind of wood or chew toy is safe for your guinea pig’s health and does not present a choking hazard and you can use it as an alternative to hay.

However, when it comes to the nutrients in the hay that your guinea pig might be missing out on, you can feed it multivitamins and supplements instead.

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