Guinea pigs need to eat a variety of foods to stay healthy. They should be fed a diet of hay, fruits, and vegetables, but you may feel tempted to give them various treats to make their diet more interesting. Here are four foods that you shouldn't feed your guinea pigs.
While other types of small pets can eat seeds, these snacks are dangerous for your guinea pigs. Seeds are bad idea for two reasons. First, your guinea pigs' digestive systems aren't the same as yours; their bodies are not designed to break down seeds. They have trouble digesting them. Seconds, seeds can pose a choking hazard for your pets. Your guinea pigs' airways are very small, so even a tiny pumpkin seed could get stuck.
Nuts are another food that you should never feed your guinea pigs. Like seeds, the fat and starch that nuts contain cannot be broken down easily by your pets' digestive systems. Nuts can also cause obesity due to their high calorie content. Your guinea pigs need to eat throughout the day to wear down their constantly-growing teeth, and constantly snacking on nuts will cause your guinea pigs to become obese. Instead, give them constant access to fibrous hay, like Timothy hay or orchard hay; hay will wear down their teeth without making them obese.
You may have seen yogurt-covered snacks marketed for guinea pigs at your local pet store. While the snacks are widely available, guinea pigs actually aren't able to eat yogurt. Since they are herbivores, they aren't meant to eat dairy products or other animal products. If your guinea pigs eat yogurt, they can end up with a sick stomach, so it's best to avoid these treats. Instead, stick to fruits and vegetables when it's time for a snack.
Grass is a healthy food for guinea pigs, but allowing them to feed on your backyard grass can be dangerous. The grass in your yard could be contaminated with feces from your dog or cat—or from a wild animal—and if you've had your lawn sprayed with herbicides or pesticides, these poisons could hurt your guinea pigs. For these reasons, the grass that's growing in your yard should be off-limits to your guinea pigs. If you want to feed your guinea pigs grass, try growing it indoors so that you can be sure it's not contaminated.
To keep your guinea pigs healthy, avoid feeding them any of these four foods. For more advice, contact a vet at a local animal hospital.