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What to Feed Guinea Pigs When Out of Food

You suddenly realize you are out of guinea pig food, and now you are scrambling to find alternatives. This can be a frightening situation for any guinea owner. However, there is no need to panic. 

The first thing you need to do is to secure some timothy hay for your piggies by today while feeding them some alternatives. 

Guinea pigs are herbivores that can enjoy a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, so you likely already have an alternative on hand. 

This article will tell you how much time you have, where you can buy hay with same-day delivery, and what to feed your guinea pigs while waiting. 

How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go Without Hay

You have 24 hours.

In an ideal world, your guinea pig should never be without fresh timothy hay. It is recommended that guinea pigs do not go without hay for more than one day. However, sometimes these things happen. You may forget to buy hay, or your guinea pigs may go through it more quickly than you anticipated. 

If your guinea pig goes without hay for an extended period of time, such as for several weeks, there can be consequences to his health. For example, hay is essential for helping guinea pigs to grind down their teeth because overgrown teeth can make it difficult for your piggy to eat and absorb nutrients. 

Additionally, hay is essential for guinea pig digestion because it is an abundant source of fiber, which helps your piggy use the bathroom regularly. A guinea pig must poop almost constantly to keep its gut healthy. 

For these reasons, your guinea pig should not be without hay for more than one or two days. There are alternatives to hay when you are in a pinch and some methods for getting hay delivered within a day. More on those later. 

How Long Can Guinea Pigs Go When Out of Pellets?

Take your time with pellets.

Guinea pigs can go a surprisingly long time without pellets. This is because pellets are not necessarily the best source of nutrients for your piggy. This is why pellets should only make up around 20% of your guinea pig’s diet. 

Your guinea pig can go several days without pellets as long as you provide sufficient hay, water, and fresh vegetables. You should aim to feed your guinea pigs one cup of fresh vegetables per pig per day. Timothy hay and water should be given in unlimited amounts.

As long as your stick to these guidelines, your furry friend will do just fine without his pellets for a few days. 

Seven Replacement Food to Feed Your Guinea Pigs When Out of Hay

While you must restock your guinea pigs with fresh hay as soon as possible, there are some healthy alternatives you can turn to in the meantime. 

Keep in mind that these alternatives are only temporary solutions to keep your guinea pig going while waiting for the almighty timothy hay.

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Fresh Grass from an Untreated Lawn

Grass is a wonderful alternative to timothy hay. Even better, this option is abundant and easy to gain access to. Grass is rich in fiber, much like timothy hay, making it an excellent source of nutrients for your cavy.

It is best to trim the grass using a pair of scissors so that your guinea pig is not eating dirt. You may choose to wash the grass before feeding. In addition, you must ensure that the grass is from an untreated lawn. Treated lawns may contain chemicals that are poisonous to your guinea pig. 

Another thing to note is that you should only feed your cavy grass from a lawn that other animals have not occupied. The urine and feces of other animals may cause illness in your piggy.


Wheatgrass for guine pigs

Wheatgrass is another excellent alternative to timothy hay because it is rich in nutrients and fiber. Due to its potential benefits for humans, wheatgrass can be found at most grocery stores.

While most guinea pigs love wheatgrass, it should be slowly introduced. Too much wheatgrass too quickly can lead to GI upset and diarrhea. 

Cat Grass

While cat grass is often marketed to cat owners, it is perfectly safe for guinea pigs. In fact, most cat grass is just similar to wheatgrass, which means cat grass is also a great alternative to timothy hay.

Cat grass can be found at most pet and grocery stores. Remember, while this is a great source of nutrients for your guinea pig, it must be introduced slowly. 

Pellets that Contain Timothy Hay

Most guinea pig pellets consist of ground-up timothy hay. This means that when your guinea pig is eating his pellets, he is consuming some timothy hay. This is good because it means that your guinea pig is not missing out on valuable fiber if they have to go without hay. 

However, these pellets are no substitute for fresh hay. Intact timothy hay is much more fibrous, which is what makes it so good at wearing down your piggy’s teeth.

In addition, an excess of pellets in your guinea pig’s diet can quickly lead to obesity. If you have access to pellets, make sure that they are plain timothy hay pellets rather than pellets mixed with dried fruits and vegetables; the former is much easier for your guinea pig to chew and digest. 


Lettuce is a wonderful vegetable to provide for your guinea pig. In fact, leafy greens should make up the second-largest portion of your guinea pig’s diet behind timothy hay.

Lettuce for your guinea pig

Romaine lettuce is an excellent choice due to its high vitamin C content. Additionally, romaine lettuce is high in fiber, making it a good substitute for timothy hay. 

Remember, your guinea pigs should be getting one cup of greens per pig per day. Leafy greens can be purchased at most grocery stores. 

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are a wonderful source of vitamin C for your piggy. You can opt to feed your cavy 1-2 tablespoons of bell pepper per day.

Ideally, you should aim to provide your guinea pig with yellow or red bell peppers, which are higher in vitamin C. However, these can be a bit on the pricey side, so green bell peppers will work just fine if you are on a budget.

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Cauliflower is another excellent source of vitamin C. While your guinea pig will probably enjoy cauliflower, he will most likely enjoy the leaves the most.

This is a perfect option if you need a budget-friendly alternative while waiting on more hay or pellets. Just be sure to feed cauliflower sparingly, as it can cause gas and GI upset in guinea pigs. 

What Not to Feed Your Guinea Pig

If you run out of hay or pellets, it is important not to panic and feed your guinea pig, something that could make matters worse. The following foods should never be included in your guinea pig’s diet:

  • Dairy: guinea pigs do not have the necessary enzymes to digest dairy. They should follow a strictly plant-based diet.
  • Meat: Again, your guinea pig’s gut is only made for digesting plants. Please do not feed them meat under any circumstances!
  • Nuts and seeds: These foods can be toxic to guinea pigs and are also a choking hazard. 
  • Potatoes: this starchy vegetable is toxic to guinea pigs. 
  • Excess fruit: Too much sugar can be harmful to guinea pigs. They should not be fed an abundance of fruit if you run out of their food. 
  • Any other commercial small pet food: These pre-made foods are not made for guinea pigs and may contain substances that they cannot digest. 

Where Can I Buy Hay with Same-Day Delivery?

(Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.)

Lucky for you, there are options out there for getting timothy hay fast. One of those options is PetSmart’s same-day delivery. PetSmart delivers timothy hay on the day you order it for no additional charges! This service is made possible through their partnership with DoorDash.

If you are truly unable to buy your guinea pig hay, this may be the best option for you. Nothing is easier than getting fresh hay delivered straight to your door. Remember, you must get hay for your guinea pig as soon as possible. If you cannot make it to the store for a few days, ordering hay from PetSmart and utilizing same-day delivery is a great option for you and your piggy.


Guinea pigs cannot be without fresh hay or pellets for long. Ideally, your guinea pig should not be without these essential foods for more than 1-2 days. However, there are several alternatives to hay and pellets that you can provide for your piggy in the meantime. 

If you are out of hay, you may opt to feed your guinea pig grass, leafy greens, or some extra pellets. Leafy greens also make a wonderful substitute for timothy pellets. 

The bottom line is, there is no reason to panic if you find you have run out of your guinea pig’s food. There are several perfectly good options that you can substitute for hay or pellets over the span of a few days. 

One final piece of advice: If you want to keep guinea pigs, make sure you always have hay around. Plan your stock ahead and avoid running into such a situation again.