How to choose the best food for your guinea pig

Below are some tips for choosing quality pellets. They are based on pellet freshness, quality control, and ingredient quality control. It uses AAFCO regulations (AAFCO is the government agency responsible for the control of animal feed). 

How to choose the best food for your guinea pig

Ingredients to watch out for when buying pellets:

  • Animal products (including animal fat, meat, sterols, bone meal and eggs)
  • Beet pulp (this is a controversial issue even in cat and dog foods. Poor quality fiber is believed to clog the intestines. It is one of many “human” foods that are harmful to animals)
  • Seeds, nuts, or vegetable oil (too high in protein and fat, unnatural (for pigs) food, as food is of little nutritional value)
  • Rice Bran or Rice Flour (many by-products, no nutritional value according to AAFCO)
  • Vegetable fiber (each and every by-product may contain sawdust

Sweeteners, colors and preservatives to watch out for:

  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Propylene glycol (contributes to premature death)
  • Food colors (including FD&C reds, blues and yellows)
  • Propyl gallate
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Table salt or salts [Sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, or sodium metabisulfate]
  • [Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) / Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)]

Alfalfa or Timofeyevka?

Most guinea pig pellets are based on alfalfa. Alfalfa pellets are suitable for feeding small, growing and pregnant gilts. After the mumps is one year old and developing well, it is better to use timothy pellets with a lower calcium content. Make sure the pellets are made specifically for gilts, with added Vitamin C. Choose pellets free of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and colored pieces. The seeds in the shell (husk) of the pig may choke. The pig eats about 1/8 cup of the pellets when supplemented with hay and vegetables. Buy pellets in small quantities and store them in a dry, dark, cool place to avoid loss of vitamin C (check the freshness of the pellets by the date on the package). 

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