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THE PIG SHED

DIET & NUTRITION
ABOUT ME
THE PIG SHED VIDEO
PIGGY HISTORY & INFORMATION
SETTING UP HOME
CHOOSING & TAMING YOUR GUINEA PIG
DIET & NUTRITION
PIGGY DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES
THE GUINEA PIG SALON
WHAT'S MY PIGGY?
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
PROBLEM PAGE
GUINEA PIG INFORMATION
GIRLS ALBUM
THE REST OF THE GANG- RABBITS
THE REST OF THE GANG- CHINCHILLAS
LINKS PAGE

THIS PAGE GIVES INFORMATION ON WHAT TO FEED YOUR GUINEA PIG AND WHAT NOT TO FEED, AND A NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF THESE FOODS

 

DRIED FOODS

         There are several varieties of branded foods available in the shops today. Some of them I believe to be an excellent source of nutrition for guinea pigs. They provide the correct amount of vitamins; minerals and other essential ingredients to give the guinea pig a healthy body and a happy life. Their diet in the wild consists of grasses, leaves and berries.
In captivity they are fed on a balanced dried food diet.

Most brands contain the following ingredients: -

Wheat
Maize
Oats
Sunflower Seeds
Barley
Locust Beans
Dried Grass
Linseed
Rolled Peas
Rolled Maize
Dried Peas

         These not only provide the animals with the essential nutrients but also help ware down their sharp teeth. This is because most of these foods are hard causing the teeth to be ground down to a comfortable length.

I have tried most pet shop brands and have found some of them to be too rich in fat and sugar. Guinea pigs do like thier food, sometimes too much! and will usually eat whatever you give them. So this in turn can cause health problems. Brands such as Gerty Guinea Pig or Pets At Home guinea pig mix, are too artificial and high in these ingredients and can cause obesity and other problems.

Personally I prefer brands such as Gloria and Spillers guinea pig mix because these are very natural and dont have a lot of man made biscuits in them. They are very light mixes, with lots of hay, alfalfa, maize, rolled peas etc to provide guinea pigs with the corerct balanced diet.

OTHER FOOD TYPES

         It is well known that guinea pigs absolutely love fresh fruit and vegetables, especially carrots. Most fresh vegetables are a good source of nutrition for the pigs; others can cause a number of problems for the digestive system.
         Personally I am very careful with what I feed to my guinea pigs as vegetables with a high water content can cause diarrhoea and other problems.
Although most books recommend giving your pigs a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, I have tried them all and only had a few winners.
I suggest foods such as: -

Carrots
Cucumber
Broccoli
White Cabbage
Brussels Sprouts
Tomatoes
Runner Beans
Oranges (some like, some dont)
Apples
Pineapple
Celery
Cauliflower Stalks
Grass
Dandelion Leaves
Parsley

         These are only what my guinea pigs like; yours may like a wide range of fruit and vegetables. When trying them on new products only give them a little at a time otherwise they will gorge themselves and become ill.
         Vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber and cabbage have a high water content. This can be dangerous for the guinea pigs digestion and may cause severe diarrhoea. I know that I have mentioned this problem a lot on this site, but it is a serious illness, which is usually a killer among guinea pigs. So to prevent it I personally dont give them cabbage or lettuce, just in case. 

         There are lots of treats available for guinea pigs in pet shops, such as locust beans, apple and beetroot crunch etc. These should be given in moderation, because they can also cause obesity and health problems if fed too often.

         I have also mentioned giving them hay in the Setting Up Home section. This is a good source of fibre for the guinea pigs, which in turn aids digestion and keeps their poo hard and not runny.

NUTRIENTS
 
         The body requires a regular intake of nutrients in order to function correctly. If the body is deficient in even one of these nutrients then the animals health will deteriorate rapidly.

The main nutrients required by the body are: -

Vitamins
Minerals
Carbohydrate
Fats
Protein
Water

Vitamins

         There are several Vitamins required by the body, which have their own specific function. Vitamins are organic substances, which are essentially required in small animals. They dont build body tissues and are necessary for specific biochemical reactions such as: -


The regulation of digestion, absorption and metabolism.
The development of normal vision, bone and external body coverings such as fur and feathers.
The regulation of body glands.
Formation of new cells.
The protection against disease and infection.
The development and maintenance of the nervous system.
They are all classified on the basis of solubility. Fat Soluble means that they can be stored and accumulated in the liver, fatty tissues and other parts of the body. There are limited amounts stored these are A, D, E, and K.
Water Soluble means that the body cannot stored them so they are passed out when used. These are vitamins B and C.
Guinea pigs are among a minority of animals who must obtain Vitamin C in order for their digestive system to function properly.

         Vitamin C otherwise known as Ascorbic Acid can be found in a number of foods such as carrots, tomatoes, oranges, celery, strawberries, mango and apple. It is required for the synthesis of collagen, it strengthens the walls of vessels, helps scar tissue to form and helps bone growth. It is also needed for the metabolism of amino acids, helps to strengthen the infection resistance and aids the absorption of iron. If an animal especially a guinea pig is deficient in this vitamin then a problem called Scurvy could occur or another known as Atrophy. To find out more about these illnesses look on the problem page.

         Vitamin A can be found in cereals such as wheat, oats and barley, carrots and green vegetables. It is required by the body to help vision, night and day, to maintain the cornea. It also helps the growth of bone and teeth, the synthesis and regulation of hormones and helps growth and reproduction.

         There are several types of Vitamin B. The most important are: -
Vitamin B1 also know as Thiamine, which helps break down carbohydrates, and can be found in whole grains, peas and beans.
Vitamin B2 also known as Riboflavin aids the control of oxidation (a chemical reaction which occurs when a substance is combined with oxygen), and reduction (a chemical reaction by which oxygen is removed from a substance). It can be found in leafy vegetables such as cabbage and spinach. 
Vitamin B12 aids the production of proteins; it is a co-enzyme, which helps, in biological reactions. It aids normal growth, reproduction and blood formation. It can be found in fish oils.

         Vitamin D is produced by the skin, providing sunlight is present. It is required to raise the levels of phosphorous and calcium in the blood. This is done by increasing the amount of absorption in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), by taking calcium from the bones and stimulating the kidney retention. When deficient in this vitamin the body may suffer from Rickets. To find out more about this illness look on the problem page.

         Vitamin E can be found in green vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. It aids the reproductive system to control the normal gestation of the young, fertility, and to help the animal produce successfully. The main problem this can cause if an animal is deficient in this vitamin is Muscular Dystrophy. To find out more about this illness look on the problem page.

         Vitamin K is needed for the maintenance of blood coagulation, so when the animal is injured and bleeding it helps the blood to clot and form a scab. It can be found in green vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. There is no known name for the disease or illness, it is known as Vitamin K Deficiency. To find out more about this illness look on the problem page.

Minerals

         Minerals are required for body structure, fluid balance and enzyme metabolism.
There are several types of minerals required by the body.

These are as follows: -

         Calcium (Ca) helps build healthy bones and teeth, it also helps with the function of normal muscle contraction and relaxation, the clotting of blood, and aids the function of nerves. It can be found in most grains and cereals. Young animals can also obtain this by suckling from their mothers. When deficient in this it can cause an illness known as Osteoporosis. To find out more about this illness look on the problem page.
 
         Copper (Cu) helps bone formation and helps to produce haemoglobin.

         Iron (Fe) helps to form white blood cells, which are needed to fight infection and helps to heal the body. If the body does not have enough iron it may cause an illness known as Anaemia. To find out more about this illness look on the problem page. It can also cause a weakness to infection. This can be found in nuts, dried fruit and green vegetables.

         Magnesium (Mg) is needed the same way as Calcium, to keep teeth and bones strong and is also required for protein building, the transmission of nerve impulses and can be found in green vegetables, nuts and legumes.

         Phosphorous (Ph) helps build bones and aids the formation of Phospholipids (a type of lipid, which makes up a membrane). It is also required in energy transfer in cells and it can be found in fruit and vegetables.

         Potassium (K) is needed to help reaction such as the production of protein, fluid maintenance, cell support, the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction. When deficient in this mineral is can cause dehydration, and can cause weakness of the muscles, paralysis and then confusion. It can also lead to death. It can be acquired from foods such as fruit, legumes, grain and vegetables.

         Sodium (Na) is needed to maintain the normal fluid balance of cells and controls the balance of acid in the body. It is also critically required for the transmission of nerve impulses. When deficient in this mineral it can cause muscle pain, mental apathy and an appetite loss.

Carbohydrates

         Carbohydrates contain Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen. Animals are able to convert carbohydrates into energy that is required for the following: -

Bodily functions such as breathing, digestion and exercise.
The production of heat to keep warm.
A source of fat.
They help maintain the glucose levels within the body.
Aid gut mobility.
They are made up of Sugars, Starches and Crude Fibres and can be found in fruit sugars, cereals and root vegetables.


Fats

         Fats are made up of chemical elements the same as carbohydrates, but in different combinations. Fats are essential in the diet because they are a major source of energy, they aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. They improve taste of foods, and they provide the essential fatty acids, which are known as Linoleic, Lunoleic and Arachidonic. They can be found in seed oils and nuts.

Protein

         Proteins are composed of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. They are required for the development and repair of body organs, the production of milk, the development of the foetus, generation of enzymes and hormones, the development of antibodies and the transmission of DNA.
Proteins are made up of amino acids, which are broken down during the digestion process. These amino acids are carried round in the blood stream to the various parts of the body. There are 25 amino acids of which 10 of them are essential and must be taken in as nutrition and 15 are non-essential and are metabolised by the body. Protein can be found in cereals and vegetables.

Water

         Every cell requires water in order to function correctly. Guinea pigs are unable to store much water in their body so therefore they cannot survive for long without it.