Do guinea pigs need to be fed every day?

Quick Answer

Yes, guinea pigs need to be fed every day without fail. Guinea pigs have very fast metabolisms and small stomachs, so they can’t go for long periods without eating or they risk serious health problems. Guinea pigs should have a constant supply of fresh hay available at all times, along with measured portions of vegetables, fruits, pellets, and water daily.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Food Available at All Times?

Guinea pigs need unlimited access to hay at all times. Hay provides guinea pigs with fiber to keep their digestive system working properly. It also gives them something to nibble on between their regular feedings.

Guinea pigs’ teeth are constantly growing, so they need hay to grind them down. Without unlimited hay, their teeth can become overgrown and misaligned, causing pain and preventing them from eating properly.

Some good hays to offer guinea pigs are timothy hay, orchard grass hay, oat hay, and botanical hay. The hay should be fresh, green, and odor-free.

Guinea pigs also need a constant supply of fresh, filtered water in a bottle or bowl. Restricting their hay or water at any time can lead to dehydration, gastrointestinal stasis, bladder stones, and other problems.

Tips for Keeping Guinea Pigs Supplied with Hay and Water

– Place hay in a rack or dispenser so it stays clean and doesn’t get mixed with droppings. Refill as needed.

– Check water bottles twice daily to be sure they are dispensing water properly. Clean and refill water bowls daily.

– Buy hay in bulk or have it delivered regularly so you don’t run out. Store extra hay in a cool, dry place.

– Try different hays until you find the kind your guinea pigs like best. But introduce new hay slowly to avoid tummy upsets.

– Make sure hay and water are within easy reach of a hidey house or tunnel so shy pigs can access it.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Scheduled Feedings?

In addition to unlimited hay, guinea pigs also need measured servings of fresh vegetables, fruit, and pellets once or twice per day. The portion sizes and feeding schedule depends on the age and health of your guinea pigs.

Feeding Guidelines for Guinea Pigs

Age Vegetables and Fruit Pellets
Under 6 months 1/2 cup daily 1/4 cup daily
6-12 months 3/4 cup daily 1/3 cup daily
Over 12 months 1 cup daily 1/2 cup daily

– Vegetables and fruits should be a mix of leafy greens and colorful veggies. Good choices are romaine, kale, carrots, bell peppers, and small slices of apple, melon, banana or berries.

– Choose a timothy hay-based guinea pig pellet. Alfalfa pellets are only for young guinea pigs under 6 months old.

– Spread feedings out during the day. Guinea pigs are most active in the morning and evening.

– Remove uneaten fresh food within 2 hours to prevent spoilage.

What Happens if Guinea Pigs Don’t Eat for Days?

Guinea pigs can go into gastrointestinal stasis if they go 24 hours or more without eating food and passing stool normally. During stasis the gut slows down or stops working altogether. This is a life-threatening emergency for guinea pigs.

Signs of gastrointestinal stasis in guinea pigs include:

– Not eating or decreased appetite
– Lethargy, depression
– Hunched posture with ruffled fur
– Weight loss
– Small, infrequent poops or no poop
– Bloating or swollen belly
– Teeth grinding due to abdominal pain

Causes of gastrointestinal stasis include:

– Stress
– Dental disease preventing eating
– Lack of food or water
– Pain from another condition
– Injury or illness
– Certain medications
– Diet too high in calcium or carbohydrates
– Lack of exercise

If your guinea pig shows any signs of GI stasis you should see a vet immediately. Guinea pigs cannot survive long without food and the condition will not resolve on its own.

What to Do if Your Guinea Pig Won’t Eat

If you notice your guinea pig has not been eating normally, you should take action right away to get it back on track and prevent a serious crisis. Here are some tips:

– Check that hay and water are fresh and accessible. Refill if needed.

– Offer favorite veggies or fruit to stimulate appetite. Romaine lettuce and cucumber are good choices.

– Try hand feeding. Guinea pigs often still eat from your hand when sick.

– Syringe feed recovery food or critical care formula to deliver nutrition.

– Give tummy massage and provide heat pad to ease discomfort.

– Check teeth alignment and length. Overgrown teeth need trimming by a vet.

– Provide extra hideys and reduce environmental stressors.

– Take to vet asap if not eating within 12 hours. Medication, fluids, and assist feeding may be needed.

Don’t forget guinea pigs are sensitive prey animals. Going off food can be an early sign of pain, illness or distress that warrants a vet visit for diagnosis and treatment. Stay alert for subtle appetite changes.

How to Transition Guinea Pigs to a New Diet

When bringing home a new guinea pig or changing brands of food, introduce the new diet gradually over 5-7 days to prevent digestive upset. Here are some tips:

– On day 1, give 75% of old diet mixed with 25% new diet.

– On day 2, do a 50/50 mix of old and new food.

– On day 3, switch to 75% new food and 25% old food.

– On days 4-7, feed 100% new diet while monitoring poops for changes.

– For pellets, slowly transition by mixing old and new pellets, decreasing old while increasing new.

– For veggies, substitute 1 new item for 1 old veggie every couple of days.

– For hay, offer new hay in increasing amounts next to old hay so guinea pigs can try it.

A gradual transition gives the gut flora time to adjust. If stool changes, slow the switch and call your vet. Diarrhea and soft poop can lead to dehydration.

Can Guinea Pigs Safely Skip a Day of Eating?

No, skipping even one day without food puts guinea pigs at risk for gastrointestinal stasis and liver problems. Here’s why guinea pigs can’t fast safely:

– They have a fast metabolism and use up stored energy quickly.

– They can’t vomit to bring up hairballs or other blockages.

– They require vitamin C daily from food since they can’t make their own.

– Lack of food slows down their gut motility and digestion.

– Overgrown teeth and nails can develop within days without hay to grind them down.

Guinea pigs also get stressed if their normal feeding routine is disrupted. Despite their small size, guinea pigs have nutritional needs similar to much larger animals. Don’t assume they can skip meals like a hamster or gerbil might.

Reasons Guinea Pigs Sometimes Refuse to Eat

It’s not normal for guinea pigs to go for long without eating. But sometimes health issues or environmental factors cause them to go off their food, including:

Dental disease

Overgrown or misaligned teeth make chewing painful. Guinea pigs then avoid eating, leading to further teeth problems. Regular tooth trims by a vet can prevent this.

Respiratory infections

Upper respiratory infections in guinea pigs can make eating and swallowing difficult and painful. Antibiotics from a vet are needed to treat the infection.

Intestinal parasites

Parasites irritate the gut lining and can cause diarrhea, nutrient deficiencies, and poor appetite. Your vet can check a fecal sample and provide antiparasitic medication if needed.

Pain and arthritis

Just like humans, guinea pigs often avoid eating when in pain. Joint supplements and pain medication from your vet can help.

Stress or depression

Lack of companionship, a noisy environment, improper housing, or too much handling and disruption to routines can stress guinea pigs and cause appetite loss. Make sure guinea pigs have proper living conditions, a companion, and minimal stress.

Hot temperatures

Heat waves and stuffy, hot rooms can lower guinea pig food intake. Make sure they have shade, cool surfaces to lie on, and ample water in summer.

If your guinea pig is refusing food, get a checkup to pinpoint the cause. Treating the underlying issue will get their appetite back on track.

Signs Your Guinea Pig is Hungry

Guinea pigs will often display behaviors indicating they are ready for their next meal. Here are signs to watch for:

– Wheeking or whining, especially in the morning and evening

– Standing upright on hind legs looking for food

– Nibbling or licking your fingers and clothing

– Increased activity and popcorning when they hear the fridge open

– Coming to the cage bars looking for food when they see you

– Eating hay but looking for veggies or pellets

– Chewing on cage bars or toys out of boredom

Guinea pigs begging for meals is perfectly normal behavior. Time feedings around when your pigs seem most eager to eat. Also provide extra hay when they are very active. Hungry pigs will appreciate the nibbles!

Best Practices for Feeding Guinea Pigs Daily

Giving guinea pigs consistent, high quality nutrition each day will keep them healthy and happy. Follow these tips:

– Feed at the same times daily, when most active in morning and evening. Guinea pigs thrive on routine.

– Provide unlimited timothy or other grass hay at all times in a rack or dispenser.

– Include a serving of leafy green vegetables and a smaller amount of veggies like carrots each day.

– Feed a guinea pig pellet made from timothy hay and veggies. Look for omega-3s and vitamin C.

– Check daily that hay racks and water bottles are full and working properly.

– Remove uneaten fresh foods within a few hours to avoid spoilage.

– Avoid sugary fruits and treats which can cause obesity and dental issues.

– Weigh guinea pigs weekly. Notify your vet if weight loss exceeds 2 ounces.

– Monitor poops for normal size and consistency. Diarrhea or constipation are signs of illness.

Setting up a feeding routine tailored to your guinea pigs’ needs will keep their digestive system working properly and prevent health issues. Pay close attention to appetite and poop changes which often are the first sign of problems. With diligent daily feeding, your guinea pigs will live a long, healthy life.


Guinea pigs have delicate digestive systems and fast metabolisms that require multiple small meals spaced throughout the day. Missing even one day of eating can lead to gastrointestinal stasis and liver lipidosis, which can quickly become life-threatening. Guinea pigs should have unlimited timothy hay available at all times to promote good dental health and digestive function. They also need measured servings of fresh vegetables, limited fruits and vitamin C fortified pellets each day. By feeding a consistent, fiber-rich diet you can keep your guinea pigs healthy and prevent common illnesses. Monitoring daily food intake and poop output is key to spotting appetite or digestive changes that need quick veterinary attention. With proper nutrition and care, guinea pigs can live 7-9 years. Their overall health depends on owners providing a varied, well-balanced diet every single day.

Leave a Comment