Guinea pigs are naturally herbivores or plant-eaters. Excluding pellets, vegetables, fresh fruits, and water; guinea pigs require hay in their everyday diet and so can’t go long without hay.
As hay is considered dried grass, most guinea pig owners are often confused about how much they need to feed their guinea pig and deciding how long their cavies can go without hay.
But how long can guinea pigs go without hay? Guinea pigs cannot go without hay for over 24 hours. We’ll be shading more lights on this below so you can understand the relationship between guinea pigs and hay.
Let’s get started!
How Long Can Guinea Pig Go Without Hay?
Like I said earlier, guinea pigs cannot go without hay for over 24 hours, and this is because hay plays an essential role in the well-being and health of a guinea pig.
It has a high fiber and nutrition, which is very vital for optimal digestion, nutrient assimilation, and to prevent bladder stones that can be fatal.
Like some other nutritional grasses, hay, are a great source of nutrition. It has a whole lot of fiber, which your guinea pig can’t go without, for a long time in their vegetarian diet, and is also an ideal way to file down their teeth.
Guinea pig’s teeth have a constant growth throughout their lifetime and become too large and painful if they are not reduced.
You must choose the right hay for your guinea pig, as they are not all the same, the right one will make all the difference in your pet’s overall health.
Meadow Hay and Timothy Hay are the most recommended hay for guinea pigs as they are high in vitamin C, but make sure that you sought out a good quality one from any pet store.
Because guinea pigs are susceptible to respiratory infections, you must look out for dust-free hay; it should be clearly labeled as “dust-extracted” on the packet.
Be careful not to offer too much alfalfa hay to your guinea pig, because they are high in calcium; calcium deposits can build up over time, and develop into large, painful stones in your guinea pig’s bladder.
Be sure to always have an eye on your guinea pigs’ behavior and their consumption of hay. If hay is not being consumed, or if you observe any drastic changes, this could be an indicator of a health complication.
Thankfully, there are a lot of trusted brands of hay available. You can also purchase in bulk to make the sourcing even more affordable.
Can Guinea Pigs Live Without Hay?
The simple answer to this question is no, they cannot go without hay, and there is no alternative for it.
It is not a good initiative or idea to limit hay consumption, and will there be any disadvantage to not stocking up the hay rack when it runs empty? Of course yes, there will be consequences for that.
You must make sure that you have a constant supply of fresh hay for your guinea pig. If your guinea pig goes beyond 24 hours, they may face the possibility of death.
Hay also acts as a filer to file a guinea pig’s teeth naturally, which will become large and painful if not effectively managed.
With this being said, hay is not the only thing that needs to be fed and should not be your pet’s only source of nutrition. You must provide them with fresh fruit and vegetables in addition to a pellet based diet.
Do Guinea Pigs Need A Constant Supply Of Hay?
Guinea pigs require a constant supply of hay daily, Meadow and Timothy’s hay is generally the best type of hay for guinea pigs. Still, if your guinea pig is pregnant, nursing, or not above six months old, it will need the extra calcium – which alfalfa hay provides.
You can mix alfalfa hay, with the other types of hay for a calcium boost, but check with your vet if you think you have a pregnant guinea pig in your care.
At the end of each day, you must clean out your guinea pig’s cage and remove wet hay. Check their cage regularly to see if there’s a pile of smelly, wet, poo-laden hay, and remove it straight-away.
As it can draw small insects like ticks, which are known to carry infectious diseases and will result in smells and unhygienic conditions.
Bring fresh hay after removing the old hay; you might consider purchasing a hay-feeder to make your cleaning routine more comfortable.
Now that you know how vital hay is for a guinea pig’s survival, there is no excuse to not provide your pet with fresh, clean, and dust-free hay daily.
Grass hay that is of good quality can be purchased efficiently and cost-effectively at any pet store.
Check the condition of your guinea pig with your vet, and he or she can help you to decide and choose the best hay to suit your cavy’s nutritional needs.
Apart from removing old hay and introducing fresh hay daily, you must efficiently clean your guinea pig’s cage weekly.
If you neglect this, it will result in a very sick guinea pig living in a dirty and bacteria-ridden cage.
A dirty cage will also attract rats and mice, which pose a danger to the health of every occupant in the home, including pets.
To effectively carry out a thorough deep clean, you can follow these basic guidelines. Essentially, you must take the following steps:
- Relocate your guinea pig to it’s play-pen, to keep it away from airborne dust, dirt, and disinfectants.
- Discard all dirty litter and bedding in the cage.
- Use a non-toxic cleaner to wipe down the cage.
- Wash any accessories left in the cage.
- Use a hard material to scrub the interior and exterior of all water containers to remove bacteria and grime.
Maintaining a clean living space is essential to your guinea pig’s health. A neat cage helps to put a stop to or reduce respiratory illnesses and a shorter lifespan for your guinea pig.
Deep cleaning must be done regularly, with particular attention to traffic areas where your guinea pig comes in contact the most.
You must make sure to use an unscented cleaner that is not harmful to your pet and with a washcloth, wipe down the cage, then rinse down the cage with warm water.
You can create reminders on your phone or print out a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, that you can mark off as you finish cleaning each section.
Don’t forget to wash their cage every day and do a weekly spot clean, make sure that the cage is dry from every angle before allowing your guinea pig back into the cage.
What Happens If You Don’t Feed Your Guinea Pig Hay?
Your guinea pig needs a fresh/new supply of grass hay introduced to them daily. They can go for up to 24 hours without hay, and nothing happens to them, but anything between 24-48 hours, they will likely die.
The fundamental reason for this is that guinea pigs require fiber in their meal every day, which hay provides.
Without fiber in their diet, they develop large stones which can be very painful and need surgery to remove.
Guinea pigs are prone to developing recurring stones in their bladder, even after surgery. If a guinea pig doesn’t recover after surgery, the owner must consider euthanasia, or the guinea pig will endure a lifetime of pain.
Neglecting the fact that they provide much-needed fiber for the guinea pig, hay also helps to manage the length of their teeth.
Without hay, guinea pig teeth can grow too long and will cause a hindrance while eating. Guinea pigs don’t have big appetites, so you cannot afford to allow your guinea pig to starve – they will die of starvation after 24 hours without food.
Consumption of hay is paramount to guinea pigs, therefore they can’t go without hay for a long time.
This is non-negotiable in terms of their health and happiness. If you decide to own a guinea pig, this is one of the responsibilities you will have.
While 24 hours is considered the most extended amount of time, you should be sure to provide an abundance of hay regularly and routinely throughout every day.
Oxbow Animal Health Meadow Hay
This 100% certified organic grass hay is grown all-naturally without the use of any chemicals. Rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and other small pets love this flavorful, high fiber hay, and you can feel good that it is beneficial for both your pet and the world around him.
Product SKU: B0025936SM
Product Brand: Oxbow Animal Health Meadow Hay
- Very soft, fresh green hay
- Good value for the price
- It contains little dusty and smaller pieces
- Inconsistent that some have poor quality hay
Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting Perfect Blend Timothy Hay Pet Food
2nd cut timothy hay is a perfect balance of stem, seed-head, and leaf to provide the rough fiber needed for normal wear to healthy teeth and yummy features with a fresh smell to keep them coming back for more.
Product SKU: B07CJ2FRNC
Product Brand: Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting Perfect Blend
- Good value for the price
- Fresh, green and fragrantly rich scent
- Inconsistent that some have poor quality hay
High Desert Alfalfa Hay
This naturally sweet hay is highly palatable for animals and it's phytonutrients promotes a healthy appetite and meet the diet needs of your fast-growing little pet.
Product SKU: B08FMXZWPM
Product Brand: High Desert Alfalfa Hay
Product Price: 4.4
Price Valid Until: 2025-02-02
Product In-Stock: InStock
- Fresh, green and smells great hay
- Good value and amount
- Quality of hay vary with dust and small pieces