How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Hay? (Solved!)

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Hay is the major diet of guinea pigs. Therefore, a regular supply of this food for your cavies is important for their general health.

Maybe your guinea pigs’ supply of hay just finished, you’ll possibly be planning to feed them other diets for a few days. Well, this sounds like a great plan, but how long can guinea pigs go without hay?

Usually, guinea pigs can go without hay for no more than 24 hours. However, ensure you give them the diet as soon as possible.

Feeding your guinea pigs other diets instead of hay for a few days will expose them to serious health problems.

Preventing sickness in your cavies is better and safer than seeking treatments.

I’m sure you now know that your cavies’ wellness depends on hay. So you need to ensure the diet is always available at all times. 

Now, let’s assume you forgot to supply hay for your guinea pigs and there’s no way to get it. You’ll possibly think of alternative food to feed them until you can get this diet. 

But come to think of it, can guinea pigs go without hay for a day?

Read further as we answer this question and others in this guide!

Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Hay For A Day?

Yes, guinea pigs can go without hay for a day. However, try all means to get the diet for them within 2 days at most.

Unfortunately, there is hardly any diet that can replace hay as it offers some benefits, which we’ll discuss later on. 

Therefore, do not allow your little pets to go without eating hay daily.

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

A guinea pig with overgrown teeth

There’s a high chance that your guinea pigs will die if you don’t feed them hay. They need to feed on this diet every day to stay healthy and live longer.

Due to their constant teeth growth, your furry friends need to chew on hay regularly to keep them in check. Overgrown teeth prevent your cavies from eating well, despite being hungry. 

Also, the long teeth may harm their gums and result in serious mouth pain.

Often, health Issues like this can lead to starvation, and eventually, death in guinea pigs.

Another reason you must always provide hay for your guinea pigs is because of its fiber content. Usually, fiber allows easy digestion of food in guinea pigs. 

Lack of this main nutrient in your cavies’ food can expose them to the risk of bladder stones. If the stone is too large, the affected guinea pig will possibly go through surgery.

Situations like this can cause serious pain in guinea pigs and even sometimes lead to death.

So regardless of the other available diets, always provide hay for your tiny pets.

Can Guinea Pigs Survive On Hay Only?

No, guinea pigs cannot survive on eating just hay for a long time. Although hay is very good for your little furry friends, it lacks vitamin C.

Bear in mind that guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C and so depend on diets to get it. Lack of vitamin C in guinea pigs can cause scurvy, a very serious disease.

Symptoms of scurvy in cavies include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pains
  • Tiredness
  • Dental problems
  • And sudden weight loss.

One major way to prevent this health issue is by providing diets rich in vitamin C for your guinea pigs.

Normally, hay should make up about 80% of your little pets’ diet. Still, it is advisable to include fruits, vegetables, and pellets in their diet to give them balanced meals.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Hay Every Day?

Yes, guinea pigs need hay every day to remain active and healthy. They are herbivores that depend mainly on plants.

Even if your cavies eat fruits and vegetables, they still need to eat hay every day for survival. It makes up the highest percentage of their daily diet.

Unlike grass or fruits, hay fully satisfies hunger in cavies. That’s why they need to eat it regularly to function properly.

What Can Replace Hay For Guinea Pigs?

Fresh grass is a good alternative to feed your pets in place of hay. Regardless, it should only be a temporary replacement, for a day or two, until you get hay.

RECOMMENDED READING: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Grass Instead of Hay?

Take note of the tips below before providing fresh grass for your guinea pigs:

  • Carefully watch out for poisonous plants in the grass and remove them if you find any.
  • Provide chemical-free grass only
  • Avoid fresh grass with fungus or waste like feces as it can expose your guinea pigs to health issues
  • Feed your cavies small, fresh grass at a time, especially if it’s their first time
  • Do not feed your guinea pigs grass clippings from the lawnmower; it is unhealthy for them.

In addition to grass, and hay, below are examples of healthy diets that your cavies can eat:


Feeding your guinea pigs healthy fruits in moderation is also a perfect idea. Understand that not all cavies love eating fruits. Still, this should not stop you from serving them the diet. 

A small amount of healthy fruit, once in a while, is great for guinea pigs. For example, you can serve them the fruits two times or thrice weekly. 

Some healthy fruits for guinea pigs include the following:



Some guinea pig owners also feed their pets pellets. These are commercial food for guinea pigs that provide them with fiber, vitamin C, and other healthy nutrients. 

Follow all instructions on the pellet package before serving it to your guinea pigs to prevent harming them.

In addition, do not feed pellets that have not been approved by veterinary doctors to your cavies; they might be poisonous.


A basket full of vegetables that guinea pigs can eat

Another great diet option for your cavies is vegetables. Since your cavies are plant eaters, they enjoy eating raw and fresh plants.  

These plants are rich in different vitamins and minerals that can prevent your guinea pigs from falling sick. Vegetables also improve the general health of cavies.

Here are some of the healthy vegetables for guinea pigs:

Green beansCucumbersSweet potato

I Ran Out of Hay for My Guinea Pig – What Do I Do?

Feed your little pets fresh grass until you can provide hay for them. But it shouldn’t take a long time before you provide hay as delay can be dangerous. 

While grass is a great alternative, it shouldn’t completely replace hay for guinea pigs.

Also Read: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Grass Instead of Hay? 

Why Did My Guinea Pig Stop Eating Hay?

If a guinea pig that enjoys eating hay suddenly begins to reject it, you’ll possibly be confused. Understand that a lot of factors can be responsible for this type of situation.

Here are 4 possible causes:

  • Health problems in your guinea pigs
  • Taste or smell of the hay
  • Your guinea pigs may need a change of diet
  • Quality of the hay; soft hay is recommended

So you need to find out if any of the factors listed above is the cause of the problem or not. Seek professional help from your vet doctor if there are no improvements.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Grass Instead of Hay?

A guinea pig eating grass instead of hay

Yes, guinea pigs can eat grass instead of hay. Still, this doesn’t mean that grass can replace hay or it should be the main diet for your cavies.

Understand that grass is just a temporary alternative for hay, especially if hay is not available.  

Can Guinea Pigs Choke On Hay?

Yes, your cavies can choke on hay if they did not chew it well before swallowing. So it is better to remove hard straw in the hay before serving it to your small pets.

Also, you can always check for dental problems in your guinea pigs. Mouth sores or gum pain can prevent them from chewing well thereby causing a choking hazard. 

Once you notice that your guinea pigs are choking regularly, despite eating soft hay, visit your vet.

Final Thoughts

Before you leave, take note of the key points in this article.

Your guinea pigs can go without hay for 24 hours or more.

Fruits, vegetables, and even pellets cannot replace hay as guinea pigs’ diet. So always prevent running out of this main food.

Always provide diets rich in vitamin C for your little pets as hay doesn’t contain it.

Finally, to prevent a choking hazard, avoid giving your guinea pigs hard hay.

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