November 20, 2019
Guinea Pig Life Stages
At what age should your guinea pig start eating adult guinea pig food? When should your guinea pig start and stop eating alfalfa hay? If you've ever asked these questions, we're here to help!
Young Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are considered young from birth to about 6 months of age. Like many developing animals, young guinea pigs grow rapidly, and this growth requires additional calories and nutrients that adult animals often don’t need. To meet these needs, feed young guinea pigs a nutritionally complete, alfalfa-based, uniform fortified food. It is also recommended to offer them a free choice mixture of alfalfa hay and other grass hays such as western timothy and orchard to ensure they’re eating enough nutrients (especially fiber). Appropriate environmental enrichment in a large pet-proofed space is a necessity to allow them to run, play, and safely explore.
Adult Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are typically considered adults from 6 months to about 5 years of age. Adults are no longer growing but still require macro-nutrients like fiber and protein, as well as micro-nutrients like the vitamins and minerals that are found in a timothy hay-based, uniform fortified food. Always have timothy hay and other grass hay varieties available to your companion (the more variety the better!), but only offer alfalfa hay as an occasional treat. Most adult guinea pigs will need to be encouraged to exercise, so make sure to set aside time daily to interact with your guinea pig and get them moving. This interaction, along with a diversity of ever-changing environmental enrichment, will all help support their overall quality of life.
Senior Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are usually considered seniors once they are more than 5 years old. Senior guinea pigs may have special needs that vary from individual to individual. It is important to have your senior pig evaluated annually by a qualified and experienced exotics veterinarian to ensure they are happy and healthy! If your senior pig develops disease or natural age-related challenges, such as joint, GI, or urinary issues, they may benefit from Oxbow’s hay-based Natural Science supplements. Senior guinea pigs need exercise like any other small companion, but their exercise may need to be curated to fit their abilities as they age. Be sure to set time aside daily for interaction and quick wellness checks when your guinea pig is in their golden years.