two guinea pigs sitting side by side

Best Guinea Pig Hay

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If you have a guinea pig, you know how important hay is for your pet’s diet. Not only does hay provide the essential nutrients needed, but it also helps keep the guinea pig’s digestive system, including its teeth, healthy. However, not all hay is created equal, so it can be really frustrating figuring out which is the best guinea pig hay.

In this article, you’ll be given our suggestions for the best hay brands you can feed to your dependent little guinea pig. We aim to cover the different types of hay that are suitable for your pet, the different hays’ nutritional benefits, and how to choose the right hay for your guinea pig. Armed with this information, you will know that you are feeding your guinea pig quality hay products. And, most importantly, that you are properly supporting your pet’s fragile digestion and overall health.

Guinea Pig Hay Quality is Important

Quality hay is essential to a guinea pig’s diet. This forage provides the much needed fiber for their digestive system to work properly. Quality hay is also packed with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that guinea pigs need in their daily diets. At the end of the day, it’s really important that you buy the right kind of hay for your cute guinea pig.

Types of Hay

There are several types of hay that you can buy, but not all hays are suitable for guinea pigs. 

Here are some of the common types of hay and their benefits:

  • Timothy Hay: This is a grass hay and the most recommended type of hay for guinea pigs. Timothy is high in fiber and low in calcium, which helps prevent bladder stones.
  • Orchard Grass: Orchard Grass is also high in fiber and low in calcium.
    This type of grass hay is a good alternative to Timothy hay if Timothy isn’t available or it gets too expensive for you. 
  • Meadow Hay: This type of grass hay is a mix of different grasses and plants. And, like Timothy and Orchard Grass, Meadow Hay provides a good variety in the guinea pig’s diet and is also high in fiber.
  • Alfalfa Hay: This rich type of hay is high in calcium and digestible protein, which can be good for young guinea pigs and pregnant or nursing females. But, it’s not recommended for adult male guinea pigs since it can cause bladder stones.

How Much Hay to Feed?

Okay, that’s all well and good, but how much hay does a guinea pig need each day? 

The fact is that guinea pigs need access to quality hay at all times. They should be given a fresh supply of hay every day. A general rule of thumb is to feed about 1 cup of hay per guinea pig per day. However, some guinea pigs may eat more or less than others, so it’s important to check their intake and adjust as needed.

Buy Quality Hay

When buying hay for your guinea pig, it’s really important to shop for high-quality hay. Always look for hay that is green, fresh-smelling, and free of dust and mold. Avoid hay that is brown, yellow, or has a musty or sour smell. The same goes for hay that you order online.  If the hay arrives poorly then return it unopened and re-order.  Report your dissatisfaction to the seller too!

As you undoubtedly know, hay is an essential part of a guinea pig’s diet. Buy the right kind of hay, feed it and monitor the guinea pig’s intake to be sure your pet is getting the necessary nutrients, including fiber.

Guinea Pig Hay

Hay is a key component of your pet GP’s diet. Not only does your GP get the all-important fiber it needs, but grass hay also keeps their teeth healthy and in control.

 Here are five of the best types of grass hay for guinea pigs:

Timothy Hay

Timothy hay is the most commonly recommended hay for Guinea Pigs. It is high in fiber, low in protein and calcium, and has a healthy balance of essential nutrients. Timothy hay is also low in calories, which makes it a great choice for chubby and senior guinea pigs. It has a sweet, grassy smell and has a healthy volume of green chlorophyll.

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Orchard Grass Hay

Orchard grass hay is another popular hay choice for guinea pigs. It is high in fiber and low in protein and calcium, making it a good second choice for your GP’s digestive system health. Orchard grass has a softer texture than Timothy hay and is typically a mix of green and tan in color. When you can’t buy Timothy, then Orchard Grass hay is a great substitute.

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Bluegrass Hay

Bluegrass hay is a tasty favorite of guinea pigs who are very picky grazers. Bluegrass hay has a sweet, nutty flavor that many guinea pigs find irresistible. Bluegrass hay is high in fiber and low in protein and calcium, making it a good choice for a healthy digestive system. It is typically a brilliant mix of green and greenish-blue in color.

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Oat Hay

Oat hay is a good forage for guinea pigs that need a little extra protein in their diet. It has a better percentage of digestible protein than some other grassy types of hay. Oat hay also has a good balance of fiber and macro minerals, like calcium and phosphorus. Oat hay is typically a mix of green and beige and has a slightly sweet smell.

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Meadow Hay

Meadow hay is a good option for guinea pigs who have a serious long tooth problem. It has a rough texture that helps wear down their teeth and is high in fiber, which is good for intestinal digestive health. Similar to oat hay, meadow hay is typically a mixed color forage ranging from green and beige with a slightly sweet smell.

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It’s a good idea to give your Guinea Pig a mix of hays to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Try mixing different types of hay together to offer your pet GP a well-balanced diet. Be sure to always provide your GP with an ample amount of fresh, clean hay to munch on throughout the day.

Nutritional Value of Guinea Pig Hay

Grass hay is an essential part of your pet’s daily diet. Hay provides the necessary fiber to keep the guinea pig’s digestive system healthy and their teeth in good condition. Guinea pigs are natural foragers and grass hay is a favorite of theirs. In addition to fiber, grass hay also contains many important nutrients that your pet needs for good health.

Fiber

Fiber is one of the most important nutrients that your Guinea Pig gets from hay. As It is with other land mammals, like us humans, fiber is essential for maintaining good digestive health and preventing digestive upset like constipation and diarrhea. All hay has two main types of fiber — insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber helps move food through the digestive system, while soluble fiber helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Protein

Grass hay is also a good source of protein for Guinea Pigs. Protein is a chain of amino acids (the building blocks) needed for growth, maintenance, and repair of muscles, indeed of all bodily tissues. Timothy hay is an excellent source of protein and is recommended for adult guinea pigs. Alfalfa hay, which is richer in protein but lower in fiber, is recommended for young growing guinea pigs and pregnant or nursing female guinea pigs, but not for adult males as it can upset their digestion.

Vitamins and Minerals

Hay is a very good source of vitamins and minerals that guinea pigs need to stay healthy. Timothy hay is a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for guinea pigs since their bodies cannot produce it. Hay also adds other important vitamins to their diet like vitamin A and vitamin E. In addition, grass hay is a favored source of important minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which are important for bone health and many other vital functions.

Water

Grass hay also contains a little moisture, but it is not a significant source of water for guinea pigs. You will need to supply your guinea pig with fresh water every day to ensure they stay hydrated. Check out our guide to the best guinea pig water bottles.

As we’ve noted, guinea pig hay is a nutritious and essential part of your small pet’s diet. It supplies fiber, protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals that your guinea pig needs to stay healthy. Timothy hay is highly recommended for male adult guinea pigs, while clean, high quality alfalfa hay is normally suggested for pre-adult guinea pigs and pregnant or nursing mothers.

black and white guinea pig on a wooden table

Choosing the Best Guinea Pig Hay

When it comes to choosing the best hay for your guinea pig, there are several factors to keep in mind. In this section, we will discuss the quality indicators you should look for in guinea pig hay and compare some of the top brands on the market.

Quality Indicators

When selecting hay for your guinea pig, there are a few quality indicators to keep in mind:

  • Freshness: Fresh hay is vital for guinea pig health. Look for hay that is clean and fragrant, with very minimal dust and mold. Never feed noticeably dusty or moldy hay!
  • Fiber content: Guinea pigs need high-fiber diets to maintain their healthy digestion. Choose hay with at least 18% crude fiber content.
  • Variety: While Timothy hay is the most favored choice for guinea pig hay, it’s important to offer a variety of hays to ensure your pet is getting a balanced diet. You should offer orchard grass, meadow hay, or oat hay as well for a well-balanced diet.
  • Cutting length: The ideal cutting length for guinea pig hay is about one to two inches. This allows for easy digestion and prevents choking or other serious mishaps.

Brand Comparison

With the right hay, your guinea pig can enjoy a healthy and happy life.

The links below are five of the top brands of small animal hay and the key features:

BrandFeatures
Oxbow Western Timothy Hay100% natural, less dusty, high in fiber
Kaytee Timothy HayHand-selected and sun-cured, high in fiber and low in protein
Small Pet Select Timothy HayHand-selected and hand-packed, fresh and fragrant, high in fiber
Standlee Premium Western Forage Timothy GrassSun-cured and hand-selected, high in fiber and low in protein
FarmerDavePetSupply 2nd Cutting Timothy HayHand-selected and hand-packed, fresh and fragrant, high in fiber

Feeding Guidelines 

Here are four tips to follow when buying hay for your guinea pig:

Quantity

Guinea pigs need easy and free-choice access to hay to aid their digestion and control the growth of their teeth. You should provide fresh, clean hay and water every day. A good rule of thumb is to supply enough hay to fill their hay rack or feeder and to refill it as needed.  Also, be sure the hay is reachable but can’t be fouled by the guinea pig’s bodily waste.

Quality

The hay you feed must be green, fresh, and should smell a little sweet. It should also feel completely dry and be free of mold. Avoid thick yellow, straw-like hay as it is tough to digest. Don’t feed any hay that has a sour or moldy odor and never feed any lawn clippings or other pet food to your guinea pig. Packaged Meadow hay is a good choice for guinea pigs as it consists of a variety of grasses, but we suggest feeding Timothy hay as the primary nutrient source. 

Benefits

Good grass hay has several important benefits for guinea pigs. It keeps their continuous teeth growth in check and it stimulates normal chewing. Also, It supports healthy digestion and helps prevent serious problems such as bloating and constipation.

Tips

Here are three additional tips to make sure your guinea pig is getting a healthy diet:

  • Place hay in a dedicated hay rack or feeder to keep it clean and prevent it from getting mixed with bedding, water, or bodily waste.  Always keep the cage clean!
  • Offer a variety of hay types to keep your guinea pig interested and to provide a range of nutrients.
  • Watch your guinea pig’s hay intake to ensure they are eating enough and adjust as needed.

Common Questions about Guinea Pig Hay

If you’re a new guinea pig owner, you may have a few questions about hay and its importance in your pet’s diet. 

To help you out we’ll wrap things up with a brief Q and A section:

What kind of hay should I feed my guinea pig?

The best type of hay for guinea pigs is Timothy hay. It is low in calcium and high in fiber, which is essential for their digestive health. Meadow hay is also a good choice, but feed with caution as it sometimes contains small sticks or stones that could harm your pet. Alfalfa hay is not recommended for adult male or non-pregnant/non-nursing female Guinea Pigs. Why? Because it is rich in calcium, protein, and energy, which can lead to bladder stones and obesity.

How much hay should I give my guinea pig?

Your guinea pig should have unrestricted (free-choice) access to quality, fresh hay at all times to munch on throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to supply hay everyday and replace it as needed. The key is to never allow them to run out of fresh hay and water!

Can I use hay as bedding for my guinea pig?

No, Never! Hay is not recommended as bedding for guinea pigs. It is not absorbent enough and can become moldy and cause deadly respiratory issues for your pet. Instead, use a bedding made specifically for Guinea Pigs, such as paper-based bedding or fleece liners.

What do I do if my guinea pig is not eating hay?

If your guinea pig goes off feed, it could be a sign of dental problems or an underlying health disorder. Ask your veterinarian to examine your pet and rule out any serious health problems. 

You can also try offering different types of hay or hay blends to see if your guinea pig prefers a different taste or texture.

Hay is a crucial part of your guinea pig’s diet and should be provided in unrestricted quantities. Be sure to buy the right type of hay, never feed lawn clippings or any other non-recommended foods. Always provide fresh hay and water daily, and use guinea pig safe bedding for your pet’s health and comfort.

Best Guinea Pig Hay

Choosing the right hay for your guinea pig is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Timothy is generally considered the best guinea pig hay as it is high in fiber and low in calcium, which can help prevent bladder stones. However, young guinea pigs under 6 months and pregnant or nursing females may benefit from alfalfa hay which is higher in calcium and protein.

It is important to provide your guinea pig with fresh and nutritious hay at all times. Also, you can mix different types of hay to provide your guinea pig with variety and ensure they are getting a well-rounded diet.

You can help keep your guinea pig healthy and happy by providing the right type of hay and ensuring they always have access to fresh water and clean bedding.  

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