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How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Hay? [What You Must Know]

Guinea pigs are herbivores, so apart from pellets, fresh fruit, vegetables, and water, they require grass in their diet. As hay is dried grass, you may be wondering how much they need and how long they can go without it? Is it a good idea to limit hay consumption and will there be any consequences to not stocking up the hay rack when it runs empty? I decided to research this top extensively and would like to provide information on the topic here today.

So, how long can guinea pigs go without hay? Guinea pigs cannot go without hay for more than 24 hours. Hay plays a vital role in the health and well-being of a guinea pig. The high fiber and nutrition is paramount for optimal digestion, nutrient assimilation and to prevent bladder stones that can be fatal. Hay also serves to file a guinea pigs teeth naturally which will become large and painful if not effectively managed.

In the following sections, we will take a look at why hay is so important to the health and wellness of your Guinea Pig and expand on what could happen if they were to go more than 24 hours without hay.

Can Guinea Pigs Live Without Hay?

No, is the answer to that question, they cannot live without hay, and there is no alternative for it.

You must make sure that you have a constant supply of fresh hay for your cavi. If he or she goes beyond 24 hours of time, they can die.

With this being said hay is not the only thing that need 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.

Grasses, like hay, are a great source of nutrition. It contains a lot of fiber, which your cavi needs in his vegetarian diet, and is also an ideal way to file down their teeth. Guinea pigs teeth grow continuously 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 optimal grass hay for guinea pigs as they are high in vitamin C, but make sure that you purchase a good quality one. 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.

Small Pet Select 2nd Cutting Timothy Hay Pet Food 20lbs
  • Small Pet Select
  • rabbit food
  • guinea pig food
  • chinchilla food
  • timothy hay

Be careful offering too much alfalfa hay to your guinea pig, as it is high in calcium, calcium deposits can build up over time, and develop into large, painful stones in your guinea pig’s bladder.

What Happens If You Don’t Feed Your Guinea Pig Hay?

Your guinea pig needs a fresh supply of grass hay daily. They can go for up to 24 hours without hay, but between 24-48 hours, they will likely die.

The reason for this is that guinea pigs need fiber in their diet 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.

Aside from providing much-needed fiber for the guinea pig, hay helps to manage the length of their teeth.

Without hay, their teeth grow too long and will hinder 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.

Do Guinea Pigs Need A Constant Supply Of Hay?

Guinea pigs need a supply of hay daily, Meadow and Timothy hay is generally the best type of hay for guinea pigs, but if your guinea pig is pregnant, nursing, or younger than 6 months old, it will need the extra calcium – which alfalfa hay provides.

You can mix alfalfa hay, with the other hay types for a calcium boost, but check with your vet if you think you have a pregnant cavi in your care.

At the end of each day, you must clean out your guinea pigs cage and remove wet hay. Check their cage constantly 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 .

Refresh their hay after removing the old hay, you might consider purchasing a hay-feeder to make your cleaning routine easier.

Now that you know how important 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. Good quality grass hay is available to buy easily and cost-effectively online (like on Amazon). 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 cavi’s nutritional needs.

Aside from removing old hay and replenishing fresh hay daily, you must deep clean your guinea pig’s cage weekly. Failure to do this will result in a very sick guinea pig from 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 carry out a thorough deep clean, you can follow our guide here. 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.
  • Dispose of 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.
  • Scrub the interior and exterior of all water containers to remove bacteria and grime.

Maintaining a clean living space is important to your guinea pig’s health. A clean cage helps to prevent respiratory illnesses and a shorter lifespan for your guinea pig.

Spot cleaning must be done daily, with special attention to the areas where your guinea pig spends the most time. You must use an unscented cleaner that is safe for your pet and with a washcloth, wipe down the cage, then rinse down the cage with warm water.

You can set up reminders on your phone or print out a daily and weekly cleaning schedule, that you can mark off as you finish cleaning each section. You mustn’t forget to clean their cage every day and do a weekly deep clean.

Make sure that the cage is completely dry before allowing your guinea pig back into its cage.

In Summary

Guinea pigs need hay. This is a non-negotiable in terms of their health and happiness.

If you decide to become a guinea pig owner, this is one of the responsibilities you will have. While 24 hours is considered the longest amount of time, you should be sure to provide an abundance of hay regularly and routinely throughout each and every day.

Be sure to monitor your guinea pigs behavior and consumption of the 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 number of reputable brands of hay available on Amazon for great prices. You can also purchase in bulk to make the sourcing even more affordable.

Be sure to checkout our best hay guide for guinea pig owners; it will help you to get a better deal and learn more about the best brands on the market.