Properly Preparing Your Guinea Pigs’ Fresh Food
It’s good to watch your guinea pigs eat from time to time. When given a variety, what food will they choose first? Do different guinea pigs have different favorites? What do they avoid? Do they gobble their food to keep it away from others? Do they get food from the bowl or steal it from other guinea pigs? Do they assist other companions that might have trouble getting their food? It’s unknown if some of this behavior is coincidental or intentional. While it is debatable that guinea pigs know what to eat and what not to eat, it is best to be a responsible pet owner and know what is beneficial and safe to give your pet. There is still a lot we don’t understand about guinea pig behavior.
Whether your piggy is graceful or gobbles, minimizing the problems that can arise from eating is a good idea. The digestive track of a guinea pig only moves in one direction and they can not vomit. Seeing your guinea pig choke, also called “heaving hiccups,” can be very upsetting as there is little that can be done while the offending object is being cleared by the guinea pig themselves. Celery and corn husks are stringy so chopping them before serving can help your piggy swallow. Seeds and nuts can fracture and split causing your guinea pig to choke. In addition, nuts contain numerous enzyme inhibitors and excessive fat that can put a real strain on the digestive system if consumed in excess. It’s best to avoid seeds and nuts.
The citrus acid in fruits can burn their mouth just like it can in a human. Slicing things like apples, melons, and oranges into smaller pieces and giving these food in small portions is a good idea. This can limit the amount of juice they get on the soft tissues in their mouth and lips that can cause mouth sores. Your pets don’t know how to use a napkin, but wiping your guinea pigs’ mouths after they eat messy foods can help avoid lip sores, leaves them feeling more comfortable, and helps keep light colored fur from getting dark juice stains. Use a soft cloth instead of paper because your guinea pigs will chew or tear a napkin before you can properly wipe.
Skins and leafy parts of vegetables can be nutritious to your pet so look for vegetables sold whole rather than prepared in the supermarket. However, some leaves, like the stems and leaves of tomatoes can be poisonous. Wash lettuce greens in cold water to remove any residuals from shipping and handling and store in freshener. When stored properly, greens will stay fresh for about 5 or 6 days.
Be careful when feeding your guinea pig while holding them. Moving a lot can make it difficult for your guinea pig to eat and can cause them to choke. Try to remain still and comfortable when feeding them. Hand feeding your guinea pig can be enjoyable but this is a skill that might not come naturally to your guinea pig. If your pet hides during feeding time, offer food to them by hand each day and be patient. Learning to hand feed can be a gateway to a level of comfort between you and your pets. Once they have mastered this skill, you can use food to help them remain calm while being stroked and picked up. Some guinea pigs will learn litter box training and tricks in exchange for food.
Serve your guinea pig food in small shallow bowls or plates. Many guinea pigs enjoy standing on the side of the bowl and this can cause them to flip. While weighted bowls might seem like a good solution, you don’t want your piggy to get caught under the bowl or hit by a heavy salad dish. We suggest small cat food bowls connected in an open frame (examples in pink and white). The open frame supports the edge of the bowl where piggies enjoy standing and prevents flipping. The open design keeps little paws and toes from getting caught on the edges.
The list of foods that your guinea pigs can and can not eat is far too complex for this article. However, each food item should come with a warning for your pets whether it is on preparation or quantity. We suggest doing research when giving your guinea pig new foods or switching brands as this can change your preparation techniques and the nutritional value.
It’s also good to wash your guinea pig’s bowl each day before serving fresh food. Bacteria can reside on small pieces left inside the bowl. Clean up any uneaten food within a couple hours. Don’t let your guinea pigs eat old food that might have developed bacterial growth and check for any hidden food inside of their hideaways. Properly served food and knowledge of their eating habits will lead to a long life and happy pets.
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