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Since the introduction of domesticated animals, feeding pets seem like a straightforward and menial task. Most pet owners either purchase the recommended food from any pet shop in Singapore or consult a vet; not much research goes into it. However, therein lies the danger.
Due to the underestimation of dietary needs of smaller animals, many pet owners end up feeding these smaller critters poorly — either from over-feeding or inadequate nutrition. In particular, the dietary specifications of guinea pigs are often overlooked.
For starters, the ancestors of guinea pigs were wild animals. Hailing from South America, this species of rodent originally fed on tough plants and fibres since they were herbivores. However, upon their domestication roughly 3,000 years ago, their diets have changed considerably to feature other sorts of nutrient-rich foods.If you’re keen to own a guinea pig or already own one yourself, read on to understand how to concoct the appropriate diet that meets its nutritional needs best with these 5 fundamental diet factors.
Feeding guinea pigs pellets has always been a topic for debate. Some say it’s necessary while others beg to differ. But at the end of the day, it really just depends on the chosen diet plan. If you’re providing foods with sufficient nutrients; such as Vitamin C and fibre – commercial pellets aren’t required.
Not to mention, an excess of pellets in their diet may result in dental diseases or obesity.
However, adding pellets into their diet is still a good move to make if you’re hoping to fulfil the daily nutrient requirements – as long as you adhere to the suggested quantities as stated on the product packaging. Otherwise, the typical amount to follow is 1/8 of a cup of pellets each day.
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Fruit shouldn’t be offered in large quantities because a diet with excess sugar can cause intestinal bacteria imbalance and diarrhoea. On the other hand, fruits rich in Vitamin C like kiwifruits, oranges, and other fruits full in fibre like apples and pears are still recommended albeit in small amounts.
Hence, if you want to feed your guinea pig fruits, it’ll be considered more of a treat. Therefore, try to keep their fruit portions to 3 to 4 servings every week.
The standard hay diet for a guinea pig should consist of generous supplements of Timothy, low-calcium hay combined with some portions of high-fibre, commercial and Timothy-hay based pellets. Other types of hay you can consider including barley hay, orchard grass, bluegrass, bromegrass, wheat, oats, and fescue. Especially if given sun-dried hay, the Vitamin D present serves as an added health bonus for your furkid.
Do take note however, that alfalfa hay is discouraged because it’s high in calcium and may result in stones developing in certain animals.
Otherwise, a good variety of hays is key to helping your guinea pig achieve a complete and well-balanced diet. Overall, hay is an excellent food for keeping tooth decay at bay and maintaining an optimal digestive tract.
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Providing fresh and clean water, specifically filtered and chlorine-free water, for your guinea pig is highly recommended.
Their typical water intake should amount to at least five ounces everyday. Ensure their sipper bottles are cleaned with hot water daily, and scrubbed with a bottle brush weekly to ensure there are no obstructions in their tubes.
Particularly during the warmer weather, ensure that the water bottle/dispenser or water bowl is filled 24/7 to prevent the risk of a heat stroke occurrence.
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If you’re ever stuck on what kinds of vegetables to feed your guinea pig, a good tip is to ensure their diet consists of a rainbow of vegetables. Why? To put simply, different veggies of different colour offers different nutritional values and benefits.
Consider vegetables like Romaine lettuce, red and green leaf lettuce, endive, cauliflower, carrot tops, beet greens, carrot, cauliflower, kale, squash and others — these are known to be rich with Vitamin C. When complemented with a good mix of hay along, your guinea pig’s diet will be well-enriched with sufficient Vitamin C intake.
Before feeding the vegetables to youor guinea pig, ensure to wash all produce thoroughly to eliminate any traces of harmful pesticides. Additionally, refrain from serving them cold. Thus ideally, every guinea pig should receive up to 1 cup of mixed vegetables daily which generally amounts to between 10 to 50 mg. Of course, this amount can be modified depending on your pet’s dietary conditions and needs.
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Although feeding is a simple, fundamental task in the long list of pet care, many pet owners tend to overlook or diminish its importance. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat” which is equally applicable, if not more so, for our beloved pets. They rely on us for all aspects of living. The onus is on us to provide them a long and healthy life.
Thus, when acquiring a pet guinea pig, know what foods or treats before purchasing it from a physical or online pet store. Hopefully, this brief guide provided some helpful pointers in curating the ideal diet for a healthy and happy guinea pig!