7 Simple Ways To Get Guinea Pigs To Eat More Hay

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It’s understandable if you want your guinea pigs to eat more hay. Hay helps them digest their food properly and keeps their ever-growing teeth from overgrowing.

a picture of a guinea pig who says he might eat more hay if his owner buys him the finest hay ever

Unfortunately, many guinea pigs don’t seem to like hay as much as they should, and will instead choose to eat other foods in their cage while ignoring the hay.

If your guinea pig is one of those that doesn’t seem to like hay, here are seven tips to help get them to eat more:

An easy-to-read food chart for safe piggie foods – Buy, download, and print.

1. Treat Dental Problems Quickly

talking about problems that pop up unless guinea pigs eat more pay
Protect those piggie teeth, if you want your little friends to have a happy, long life.

Guinea pigs have twenty teeth. All of their teeth can easily overgrow if you’re not careful. But with the right diet and diet supplements, their teeth will stay trimmed and ground down.

This diet includes hay.

LOTS. OF. HAY.

Your fur needs to eat more hay to prevent dental issues from sprouting up.

There’s a lot that can happen if your cavy is having dental problems. Here’s a few :

  • Overgrown teeth can make it difficult and painful for your little friends to eat – and can even puncture the cheeks or gums and cause cuts and bruises in your little friends’ mouths.
  • Weight loss is the result of your piggies not being able to eat properly, and can even lead to death.
  • Plus, overgrown molars and premolars can trap a guinea pig’s tongue, making it impossible to move the tongue and eat properly (yeah, it’s as bad as it sounds).

If you think your guinea pig has overgrown teeth, take them to the vet for a check-up and some trimming.

You have to appreciate the irony, here.

A piggie can’t eat hay, because his teeth is overgrown…because he wouldn’t eat hay. Honestly , it’s a vicious cycle.

At any rate, if you notice that your piggie is ignoring his hay (AND his other food), get your little friend to the vet, so he can check your fur babies mouth for overgrown teeth and prescribe treatment.

2. Be Flexible With Hay Feeder Use

a guinea pig quote that complains that guinea pigs don't need to eat more hay

If you’re having trouble getting your guinea pig to eat his hay, try changing how you store it – he might prefer eating it from a feeder rather than loose on the floor of the cage.

Some people think they’re a must, while others think they just add an extra step (or downright dangerous) and that the hay will be eaten whether it’s in a feeder or not.

I surveyed 287 people about whether or not they used hay feeders and how successful they were in getting their guinea pigs to eat hay out of the feeder.

The results?

  • Nearly 3/4 of people don’t use racks or feeders to store the hay. They use other methods, such as trays, bowls, paper bags, or just dump it on the floor of the cage, and so on. And most of them said that their piggies wouldn’t eat hay out of hay feeders or hay racks anyway.
  • The other 25% used hay bags or hay racks that they built themselves or modified from an existing product to make it safe and accessible to their fur babies. And the majority said that their fur babies would only eat hay out of the feeder or rack and never from anywhere else in the cage.

The bottom line?

Be flexible with how you store your hay – if you want you cavies to eat more of it.

Some cavies prefer a hay feeder of some sort while others will only eat it on big piles on the cage floor.

As long as your guinea pig has easy access to it and it’s safe (no getting his head stuck in bars), he’ll find a way to munch on it.

Just make sure the hay is fresh and accessible.

Emphasis on the word accessible.

If you’re using a hay feeder, make sure it’s one that your guinea pig can easily access and isn’t too complicated or difficult for him to use.

Other better alternatives to hay racks include:

  • Cat litter trays: This offers a great way of keeping the hay organized and granting your guinea pigs the chance to forage like they do in the wild.
  • Cotton bags: Simply cut one or two holes on the bottom and hang it from the cage’s side. Your guinea pig may want to hide inside the cotton bag, but that is fine as long as the openings are large enough for them to do so safely.
  • Cardboard boxes: Following the same procedure with the cotton bags, cut a few holes in it and fill it with hay for a safer alternative to a hay rack for your guinea pig.

3. Try Different Types of Hay

a tip for how to get guinea pigs to eat more hay

There are many types of hay available for guinea pigs, and each has its own unique flavor and smell. If your furry friend isn’t interested in the type of hay you’re giving him, try a different one.

Here’s some different hay options that you can try feeding to your little friends:

1. Meadow Hay

Some guinea pigs like to eat a mix of long strands of grass, leaves, flowers, and seed heads from the meadow hay. But other guinea pigs don’t like this type of food because it is inconsistent. It’s a good idea to feed your guinea pigs to see which group they fall into.

Meadow hay is a good food for guinea pigs because it’s high in fiber. This helps keep their digestive tracts working well. Meadow hay also has a low protein and calorie content, which can help prevent obesity and other health problems linked with being overweight.

If you settle on feeding your guinea pig meadow hay, make sure it is green!

2. Orchard Hay

Orchard hay is an excellent alternative for guinea pig owners who are allergic to timothy hay or wish to add some variety to their guinea pig’s diet. This is another guinea pig favorite, and with good reason.

Orchard hay also has a sweeter smell and a softer texture (which is excellent for luring your guinea pig into having some)!

3. Timothy Hay

Timothy hay is one of the most common go-to hays among guinea pig owners. It has a fragrant smell and taste (if it’s fresh), making it an excellent choice for your guinea pig.

Timothy hay provides the appropriate balance of fat, fiber, and protein and is also very easy to find online.

When feeding this to your guinea pig, make sure it is free of dust and mold, fresh and green, and has just a hint of a sweet smell.

4. Bermuda Hay

Bermuda hay is an uncommon type of hay, but it’s high-quality. This kind of hay has an excellent source of fiber. Also, it contains moderate amounts of protein and a little more calcium than timothy hay. Still, some guinea pigs don’t like the taste of Bermuda hay as much as they do timothy or orchard hay.

4. Decrease Everything They Eat But the Hay

To encourage your guinea pig to eat more hay, reduce the number of treats, pellets, and veggies that you feed to them. 

Hay should be 80% of your guinea pig’s diet. The other 20% can be made up of fresh vegetables and a small amount of pellets.

If you’re feeding your guinea pig too many pellets, he’s likely to fill up on them and not have as much space in his stomach for hay. The same goes for treats and veggies.

So, if you want your guinea pig to eat more hay, start by decreasing the other foods you’re feeding him a little bit.

When doing this, it’s important to make sure your guinea pig is still getting the appropriate nutrients he needs to stay healthy.

Consult with a veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about how to reduce your guinea pig’s diet.

5. Offer Hay in Creative Ways

Feeding your guinea pigs hay does not have to be a boring routine. Tf you want them to eat more hay,t here’s several fun ways to feed your guinea pigs.

  • Switch it up and offer multiple varieties of hay each day. For example, if your guinea pig is used to eating timothy hay, throw in a bit of orchard hay or dabble in feeding them meadow hay (this expands the palate of your guinea pig and prevents pickiness in the future).
  • Place hay in different locations (the bedding, the hutch, and even the litter box). In case you didn’t know, cavies enjoy eating hay while doing their bathroom business (gross, but true).
  • Try hiding a small number of pellets and treats so your guinea pig can chew, munch, and burrow through the hay to find them.
  • Offer hay in a toilet paper roll tied to the side of the cage.
  • Grating carrots or apples and mixing them with hay as a tossed salad is a great way to encourage your guinea pig to eat more hay.
  • You could always try feeding your piggies hay from your hand (establish a better bond).

6. Try Different Cuts of Hay

a funny meme about guinea pigs needing to eat more hay
If you’re not sure which cut your piggies like, order a hay sample pack.

Another way to get your fur babies to eat more hay is to try offering them different cuts of hay.

There are three different cuts of hay: the first cut, the second cut, and the third cut. The table below explains the differences between them.

1st Cut2nd Cut3rd Cut
It has thinner stems than leaves.It has more leaves and not enough stems as the first cut.It is very soft and leafy.
It is higher in fiber content and lower in protein and fat content.It contains a higher protein and fat content and lower fiber content than the first cut.It is highest in protein and fat content and lowest in fiber content.
Its color is lighter with more yellow and brown parts.Its color is greener than the first cut.Its color is a darker green than the first and second cuts.

7. Make Sure The Hay Is Fresh

One of the most important things to remember when feeding your guinea pigs hay is to make sure it’s fresh. Not only does fresh hay taste better, but it’s also more nutritious for your guinea pig.

When buying hay, always go for the greenest and most fragrant options. Make sure there’s no dust or mold present. If the hay is dry or brown, it’s likely past its expiration date.

If you’re able to buy hay from a local form, then that’s even better. You can ask the farmer how long ago the hay was cut and how it was stored.

Online options can be pretty reliable, too.

And once you’ve found a good source of hay, stick with it. Your fur babies will thank you.

Friendly advice?

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little extra for hay that’s guaranteed to be fresh. Doing so will boost the odds of your friends eating it.

Planning Your Piggie's

Meals Just Got A LOT Easier!

Our Wheekly Meal planner is designed to make it simple and fun for you

to create balanced and healthy

meals for your furry friends -

and they'll love you for it!

FREE

Why Is My Guinea Pig Eating Less Hay?

Guinea pigs eat less hay for several reasons. They might not like the taste or smell of the hay, it might be old or dusty, or they might have a painful dental issue that’s preventing them from eating hay.

Don’t get discouraged or fed up if your fur babies seem picky and stubborn with their hay. Instead, try to figure out what the problem is and find a solution.

What Happens If A Guinea Pig Doesn’t Eat hay?

a fact about issues that will pop up if guinea pigs don't eat more hay

A guinea pig that doesn’t eat hay is at risk for developing several health problems, such as malnutrition, digestive issues, and dental problems.

Hay helps to maintain the length of your guinea pig’s teeth, so if they do not eat hay, your piggy’s teeth can get overgrown and cause pain and interfere with feeding.

Also, because guinea pigs have small appetites, you cannot afford to let them go hungry – they will die of starvation after 24 hours.

Make sure to always have hay available to your guinea pigs, and if they’re not eating it, then try a different type of hay or consult with your veterinarian.

Keep trying until you find the right way to get your guinea pig to eat more hay. It’s an important part of their diet and can prevent health problems in the future.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat As Much Hay As They Want?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat as much hay as they want. Frankly, there’s no such thing as too much hay for guinea pigs. The more hay they have, the better. It’s good for mental stimulation and physical health.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Fresh Hay Every Day?

Yes, guinea pigs need fresh hay every day. They won’t want to eat hay that is moldy, old, or dusty. However, fresh, green hay is very tasty to cavies. Plus, it helps with digestion.

What Do You Do If You Run Out Of Hay For Your Guinea Pigs?

If you run out of hay for your guinea pigs, one of the best things to do is get ahold of a lot of grass to tide them over. Grass is a good substitute for hay because it has a lot of the same nutrients and benefits, but…

Grass is less readily available than hay, so you’re more likely to run out of it and less likely to find enough of it to sustain your piggies for a long time.

Contact guinea pig rescues or animal shelters in your area and see if they have any hay to donate. Some rescues are more than happy to help out a fellow animal lover in need.

Planning Your Piggie's

Meals Just Got A LOT Easier!

Our Wheekly Meal planner is designed to make it simple and fun for you

to create balanced and healthy

meals for your furry friends -

and they'll love you for it!

FREE

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Seven ways to get your fur babies to eat their hay. Some are more successful than others, but I suggest trying a combination of them all until you find what works for your little friends.

 I know it can be a challenge, but hopefully with a little bit of creativity and some adjustments to what you’re currently doing, you can get your horse eating happily and healthily.

Let me know in the comments below how it went – did any of these tips work for you?

And if not, feel free to share your own tried-and-tested methods!

Why Won’t my Guinea Pig Eat Hay? (Cause and How to Fix it). (n.d.). Arcana Pets. https://arcanapets.com/why-wont-my-guinea-pig-eat-hay-cause-and-how-to-fix-it/

Guinea Pig Teeth: Everything You Need To Know. (26 December 2021). Brandi Allred. AZ Animals. https://a-z-animals.com/blog/guinea-pig-teeth-everything-you-need-to-know/

Bloat Vs. Gas In A Guinea Pig. (n.d.). Sarah Whitman. Pets on Mom. https://animals.mom.com/bloat-vs-gas-guinea-pig-7311.html/

4 Reasons Why Hay Racks Are Bad (And 4 Alternative Ideas). (20 August 2020). Thomas Hansen. GuineaHub. https://guineahub.com/guinea-pig-hay-racks/

5 Types of Guinea Pig Hay. (1 May, 2020). GuineaDad. https://guineadad.com/blogs/news/5-types-of-hay-guinea-pigs-can-eat/

The Big Two Forage Grasses: Timothy and Orchard. (n.d.). Dr. Stephen Duren. Standlee Premium Western Forage. https://www.standleeforage.com/nutrition/nutritional-papers/big-two-forage-grasses-timothy-and-orchard/

Five Ways to Make Feeding Hay More Fun. (4 January 2021). Oxbow Animal Health. https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/five-ways-to-make-feeding-hay-more-fun/

1st cut, 2nd cut, 3rd cut hay… What’s the difference? (25 May 2019). Blue Clover Rabbitry. https://www.bluecloverrabbitry.com/blog/1st-cut-2nd-cut-3rd-cut-hay-whats-the-difference#/

How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Hay? [What You Must Know]. (2 December 2019). Pet Educate. https://peteducate.com/how-long-can-guinea-pigs-go-without-hay/

Ask The Small Pet Vet: How Much Hay Should My Rabbit or Guinea Pig Eat Every Day? (6 March 2020). Oxbow Animal Health. https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/how-much-hay-should-my-rabbit-or-guinea-pig-eat-every-day/

Guinea Pig Feeding. (n.d.). The Humane Society Of The United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-feeding/

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