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Choosing a Healthy Pellet

Pellets are an important part of a well-rounded diet including unlimited grass hay, a cup of fresh vegetables, and fresh water. There are so many options for guinea pig pellets available in pet stores that it can be confusing to try to find one that is safe and healthy! However, I’m here today to help you select a pellet brand that will be nutritious for your piggies.

Guinea Lynx, a wonderful resource for guinea pig information, says that the following ingredients should be avoided:

  • Animal products (including but not limited to animal fat, meat, tallow, animal digest, sterols, bone meal, and eggs)
  • Beet pulp
  • Corn products (including corn bran, corn germ, corn gluten, ground corn, etc.)
  • Seeds, nuts, or oils
  • Rice Bran or Rice Flour
  • Vegetable fiber
  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Sucrose
  • Propylene glycol
  • Food colorings (include FD&C reds, blues, and yellows)
  • Propyl gallate
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, or sodium metabisulfate
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)/Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

(To read the full page, please click here.)

You know what to avoid, but what should you look for? A nutritious pellet should be Timothy-based (or alfalfa-based, for lactating and pregnant mothers or guinea pigs under six months of age), and there should be no added treats, seeds, or colorful bits. There should be added vitamin C to help meet the daily vitamin C requirements of guinea pigs.

To store your pellets, keep them in a dark, air-tight container in a dry, cool area of your home. The vitamin C content will diminish if the pellets are not stored properly.

Let’s take a look at three common pellet brands. Two are healthy, and one is not. Can you spot the difference?

1. Kaytee Forti-Diet Guinea Pig Garden Blend 

Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Ground Corn, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Ground Oats, Ground Wheat, Sun-cured Timothy Hay, Whole Oats, Green Split Peas, Flaked Corn, Flaked Wheat, Rice Flour, Soybean Hulls, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dried Cane Molasses, Corn Oil, Dehydrated Carrot, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Potassium Chloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), DL-Methionine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin A Supplement, Choline Chloride, Ferrous Carbonate, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Ethoxyquin (a preservative), Zinc Oxide, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of vitamin K activity), Copper Oxide, Cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Carbonate, Sodium Selenite, Artificial Color.

Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein (min.) 18.0% Crude Fat (min.) 3.5% Crude Fiber (max.) 14.0% Moisture (max.) 12.0% Ascorbic Acid (min.) 100 mg/lb

2. KMS Hayloft Timothy Choice 

Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein     (min)   14.00 %
Crude Fat   (min)   2.5 %
Crude Fiber   (min)   20.00 %
Crude Fiber   (max)   25.00 %
Vitamin A   (IU/KG)   30,000
Vitamin D-3   (ICU/KG)   1,000
Vitamin C   (mg/kg)   1,000
Calcium   (min)   0.7
Phosphorus   (min)   0.4   


Timothy grass hay, oats, wheat, barley, soybean hulls, soy meal, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A supplement,Vitamin E supplement, Manganese Oxide, Meniodine Bisulfate, dl-Methionine, Zinc Oxide, d-Calcium Pantothenate,Copper Sulfate, Niacin, d-Biotin supplement, Pyrideoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, Riboflavin supplement, Cobalt Sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, Calcium Iodate, Cane molasses

3. Oxbow Cavy Cuisine (Timothy-based)

Crude Protein min 14.00%
Crude Fat min 1.50%
Crude Fiber min 25.00%
Crude Fiber max 28.00%
Calcium min 0.35%
Calcium max 0.85%
Phosphorus min 0.25%
Salt min 0.50%
Salt max 1.00%
Vitamin A, IU/lb min 13,000
Vitamin C, mg/lb min 200

Timothy Meal, Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Soybean Meal, Salt, Limestone, Molasses Products, Yeast Culture, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Monophosphate L-ascorbic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Vitamin K), Riboflavin, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Biotin, Thiamine, Pyrodoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Lysine Hydrochloride, Sodium Selenite, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Carbonate, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex and Cobalt Glucoheptonate

The answer is…KMS Hayloft and Oxbow! Kaytee has added treats mixed in with the pellets (definitely should be avoided), and there are corn ingredients, artificial colorings, and rice flour as well. But KMS Hayloft and Oxbow are the most highly recommended because they have the best ingredients for your guinea pigs. If you are able to, please try to feed one of these to your guinea pigs as they are the most nutritious.

I hope this has helped you, and if you have any questions please feel free to comment!


Should I Neuter My Guinea Pig?

CEO of Orange County Cavy Haven in California writes on the benefits and risks of neutering your guinea pig: Check it out!

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Or should I say, “Wheek!”  Welcome to the consummate source of tips, tricks, and helpful information about guinea pigs and their care. We understand that taking care of these pets can be expensive, time-consuming, and downright confusing if you don’t have the resources to do things right. We’re here to change that, so that every guinea pig can be a wheeking cavy.

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Decorating Your Guinea Pig Cage

Hi everyone!

Check out my post, “Decorating Your Guinea Pig Cage”, over at Guinea Pig Today — Their website is an awesome resource; you should definitely check out their many other great posts!

Guinea Pigs – Gifts or Animals?

The Holidays are here! Gifts are, as always, prominent in the minds of those who give presents to their family and friends for the holidays. It has become very popular to give animals, especially guinea pigs, to young children as gifts for holidays. Why is this such a big deal? Read on.

It has been a well-known claim that guinea pigs make good “starter pets,” when in fact the care of guinea pigs requires a bit of work. You can’t just leave them in their cage all day or ignore them when you’re tired or sick. They need care and love just like a dog or cat—all the time. Because of their dubbed title as “starter pets,” guinea pigs have been popular gifts for young children. This a terrible idea. Many children become bored with the guinea pig after a few weeks and soon the parents are burdened with the care. All too quickly, the guinea pig is dropped off at a shelter or rescue, in turn encumbering already-full shelters. Guinea Lynx’s “12 Pleas of a Guinea Pig” discusses this issue:

“Please do not leave my care to a child. I cannot be taken care of by a child. I am not a play thing. I am not a toy you take home on a child’s whim. I am not a gift or a reward. It is your responsibility to take care of me, to feed me, to clean my cage. Let your child hold me on his or her lap and pet me under supervision only. I have fragile bones and teeth that easily break. Though I am small, I need strong hands to hold me.”

Please keep in mind the pleas of a guinea pig this holiday season. Don’t give the guinea pig as a gift to a child. Instead, put a “Coupon for Adoption” in a stocking or under the tree. Once the holiday hubbub has died down, go with your child as a family and pick out a new friend (or a pair, which is better) together at a local rescue or shelter. Make the animal a family pet, and share in the care with your child assisting you as the primary caretaker. Observe all interactions between child and guinea pig, as it is all too common for guinea pigs to be squished, squeezed, and smashed by young children.

Please: this is my plea. As shelters fill up this holiday season from animals purchased on a whim from pet stores and as gifts, some animals will have to be euthanized when there is no room. Adopt and save a life—the animal you adopted, and the one the rescue now has room for.

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The Lowdown on Bedding


Because guinea pigs are low to the ground with their short legs, it is important to keep your guinea pig’s living space clean and dry. Urinary tract infections can be more common in guinea pigs when the bedding in the cage is wet or dirty for a prolonged amount of time.

To keep your guinea pig healthy, dry, and comfortable, you need to select safe bedding that works best for you and your situation. There are many options for bedding, but the most popular methods are disposable bedding and fleece. Here, we’ll break it all down and explain exactly what you need to know.

Disposable Beddings

The Options

Disposable bedding can be great for pet owners who do not want to use fleece. It is simple to use — just buy it, fill the cage with it, and remove it all every week.

The most popular disposable beddings include CareFresh and wood shavings. Both are available online and in pet stores.

Beware of cedar wood shavings, which can be unhealthy for guinea pigs and other small animals as the phenols (that “woodsy” scent) in the wood shavings have been linked to respiratory issues. Even though you may see cedar shavings on the pet store shelf, or the pet store employee may recommend it to you, please do not use cedar shavings.  Aspen shavings, however, are a safe wood bedding and do well with odor control and absorbency. Pine shavings are acceptable as well.

CareFresh has long been a favorite of the disposable beddings in view of its safe ingredient list and trustworthy performance with odor and absorbency. It is made of reclaimed wood pulp, which is not risky for guinea pigs as wood shavings can be. It also has a very cushy and soft texture, which is great for guinea pigs. One drawback is that it is on the pricey side.


As for cleaning with a disposable bedding, you’ll need to scoop out the wet areas and pick up the feces frequently. Every five to seven days, you should do a full clean and remove all of the bedding. Clean the bottom of the cage with a vinegar/water solution made of two parts water and one part vinegar. Once you have cleaned the cage bottom, replace with clean bedding. About one to two inches of bedding is sufficient.

You can order disposable bedding online from Amazon, PetFoodDirect, or Drs. Foster & Smith.


How It Works

Fleece is a great bedding option. With fleece, one of the most environmentally- and budget-friendly options, you only need to buy a piece of blizzard or anti-pill fleece and cut it to size to fit your cage. Underneath the fleece, you need to put some sort of absorbent layer. This may be bath towels, UHaul pads, Zorb, mattress pads, even disposable puppy pads. Fleece doesn’t absorb the moisture; instead, it allows the moisture to go through the fleece by wicking it away down to the absorbent material underneath.

If you want to make your own system and buy your own fleece and absorbent layer, you can visit fabric stores or shop online for fleece. One of my favorite places is YourFleece, but you can also buy from Hancock Fabrics or Joann. Be sure to prepare the fleece to wick moisture by washing and drying it on hot settings at least four times before use. This is to strip the fleece of its waterproof coating.

If you don’t want to purchase the supplies yourself, you can order ready-made cage liners online. Liners are made of fleece and absorbent material already sewn together to form a seamless liner that fits right into your cage. Using liners makes it very easy to clean and remove from the cage. You can order liners at many places, including Cassandra’s Cuddle-Wee Things, CobbCabinCrafts, Piggy Bedspreads, or at Jens Custom Crafts. What’s more, cage liners can be reused many times (will last at least a year or more with good care). Though up-front a liner may be a more pricey investment, when you consider the monthly expenses of disposable bedding you’re saving a lot of money in the long run.


See this page for more information:!

So there you have it! I hope this post has helped you choose the best bedding option for you and your situation. Any questions, feel free to leave a comment!

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