Guinea Pig Food in the Philippines

Update (08/23/2012): Update on local aliases of vegetables.

Update (08/23/2012): Price update for Hagen pellets. Other info and observation added to Hagen.

Update (03/28/2012): Additional info at end. “common sense section” added.

I do not profit from any of these vendors or brands. I am just one of their customers

A guinea pig, also called a cavy, is 100% vegetarian. Some people feed them milk-based products as treats but I personally believe that this should not be done by any caring guinea pig owner. Guinea pigs have evolved for many years from their wild cousins to the domesticated pets that we see nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that their bodies have adapted to be able to eat anything other than plant materials.

On this post, you will find guinea pig food supplies that I have personally fed (or tried to feed) to my own pet. Please do not ask “ is this vegetable or fruit okay? ” because if it is not on this post, that means I have not tried to feed it to my pet and I will not take the risk to say yes or even maybe. I will not copy and paste information from other sites except for images which will be credited.

Necessities:

Hagen Cobayes Pellets, 319.75 pesos per 1.13 lbs bag, Ace Hardware SM Pampanga – Update 08/23/12: 490pesos per 2.27kg bag at Bioresearch SM Megamall

Guinea pig pellets are absolutely necessary. They are formulated especially for cavies thus they have extra vitamin C. Store the pellets in a cool, dark place, preferably in the refrigerator once it is opened; vitamin C will be depleted quickly if it is exposed to light. I give Hagen Cobayes Pellets to my cavy: ” cobayes ” is the French word for ” guinea pigs “. It might be a bit pricey depending on where you buy it. This brand goes out of stock quickly because it is very good :  high protein, vitamin C is not easily depleted and the size is ideal for keeping your pet’s teeth in good shape… also, most guinea pigs will go FOOD CRAZY just by smelling it, they’ll really want to eat it. If the brand goes out of stock, then the store will have to order again and if the international price is high or the dollar-to-peso rate is crap, then the restocked bags will be costly. This brand is available and is restocked quickly by any Bioresearch shop in some SM branches (SM North EDSA, SM Megamall) , and may be available in some Ace Hardware shops (SM Pampanga, SM North EDSA); it’s also available in  Sea and Land Petshop – Shopwise Cubao (a stall near the foodstalls area).

Let me post a little rant here: if there is no Cobayes bag and the salesman suggests the Lapins bag, slap him. Slap him HARD ^__^ That, or lecture him about the meaning of Lapins (“rabbits” in French) and tell him that guinea pigs and rabbits are very different from each other.

Update 08/23/12: The price for Hagen pellets changes erratically depending on the dollar-peso exchange. When I started buying these pellets, they were only around 250 pesos per 1.13kg bag. The price skyrocketed to 319 per bag, and now as of August 2012, the price is back down to around 260 – 290 pesos. I suggest buying the 2.27kg bag instead of the 1.13kg if both are available because you’ll notice a big difference in the price. For example, I saw a 1.13kg bag and the cost was 280pesos; beside it there was a 2.27kg bag and its price was 490pesos only. If I bought two 1.13kg bags, the cost would have been 560 pesos so I opted for the 2.27kg one.

I noticed that Hagen pellets goes out of stock in the Philippines around April to July. This might be due to the main ingredient alfalfa which is cut a few times a year which would then have to be dried and processed into pellets.

Vitakraft Menu, image from Guinea Pig Supply website

Vitakraft Menu for Guinea Pigs has been eaten by my guinea pig. It is a mix of pellets, dried vegetables, grains and hay. The small bag costs around 150 to 200 pesos while the large bag costs 200 to 300 pesos. As of writing, the large bag contains an extra guinea pig treat made of grains and honey. It is available at VIP Animal Hospital – Mandaluyong, the Pet Village at Tiendesitas – C5 Pasig, Dogs and the City at SM Mall of Asia and  Sea and Land Petshop – Shopwise Cubao (a stall near the foodstalls area). The pricing at VIP Animal Hospital is as follows: 200 pesos per 1kg + free treat stick ; 100 pesos per 400g (no treat stick). Mind the treat stick, it is full of sugars and grains (junkfood for cavies) so give it to your guinea pig sparingly.

Jolly Guinea Pig Food, 165pesos per 1kg, VIP Animal Hospital Mandaluyong

My guinea pig also ate Jolly Guinea Pig food, though he is not enthusiastic about it. Its packaging is a resealable purple pack that comes in one size only and costs about 150 to 200 pesos. The contents consists of small pellets that are made of dried vegetables and alfalfa. It is available at VIP Animal Hospital – Mandaluyong,  Sea and Land Petshop – Shopwise Cubao (a stall near the foodstalls area) and the Pet Village at Tiendesitas – C5 Pasig.

Choppy Timothy Hay, 420 pesos per bag,  Sea and Land Petshop – Shopwise Cubao (a stall near the foodstalls area)

Hay is also absolutely necessary. Why? Because it keeps a guinea pig’s teeth in good shape, the fiber helps them maintain a healthy digestive system- and all that chewing keeps them from getting bored.  Timothy hay is very good for guinea pigs and my cavy loves it. It may be pricey depending on the brand. The Choppy brand has long stalks and is very fragrant as if it was quickly packed right after it was picked from the fields.

Princess Club Corp Timothy and Alfalfa Mix, around 225 pesos per tub, VIP Animal Hospital – Mandaluyong

My cavy is not enthusiastic about this mix, probably because it is cut up in small pieces OR maybe he does not like alfalfa hay. I can’t find anything wrong about this brand though: it’s a healthy, all-natural mix that is lightly fragrant; I think my pet is just a really picky eater.

Top: broccoli, celery, cilantro | Bottom: pechay, kangkong

Vegetables are necessary but don’t give it to them all the time. Some leaves may cause gas if eaten too much, others have little nutritional value and will just take space in a cavy’s little tummy without contributing much to his health. The local term for “celery” and “cilantro” is “kinchay” in Tagalog regions – the difference is that celery is large while cilantro is small (it’s the tiny fragrant leaves that are usually found in pancit) Vegetables are, of course, readily available in both wet markets and groceries; I prefer to buy all of my vegetables from a local Monterey shop because I can get freshly-picked ones on certain days of the week. My guinea pig goes crazy for celery and cilantro.

Big and small cilantro | flat-leaf parsley | curly-leaf parsley

Cilantro/coriander (chinese parsley) and parsley: I was confused by these leaves at first. Chinese parsley looks similar to but is entirely different from (real) parsley. The local terms “kinchay” and “wansoy” are interchangeable depending on the locality. Supermarkets label Chinese parsley as “kinchay” and flat-leaf parsley as “wansoy“, but in public markets, the term “kinchay” is usually used for both types of leaves. Curly-leaf parsley is always labeled as “parsley“. Chinese parsley is just a nickname for the coriander plant; when cooking, coriander can be called cilantro- ‘coriander’ refers to any part of the plant while ‘cilantro’ refers specifically to the leaves. Cilantro looks like flat-leaf parsley so it is difficult to differentiate when you just look at them, but cilantro/coriander/chinese parsley smells just like celery while parsley smells like… uh, grass? There are also two kinds of real parsley: the flat leaf and the curly leaf. The curly leaf kind, of course, does not look like cilantro and is easier to differentiate from it. In the Philippines, chinese parsley  is usually put on pancit while parsley is used as a decoration/garnish. If you’re specifically looking for parsley, just ask around for ‘parsley’ although you’d probably get the curly leaf kind (which is not bad, just different-looking). My cavy has also eaten parsley but he prefers cilantro.

Optional:

Top: pear, apple, seedless grape | Bottom: cucumber, banana, carrot

Fruits may be used as an extra source of vitamin C, hydration or treats. Anything that develops from a plant’s flowers is its ‘fruit’ and my cavy seems to know that. He does not like fruits so much, not even cucumbers; he hates bell peppers with a burning ARGH STAY AWAY passion- he does like the occasional grapes and bananas though. Remove any seeds before giving fruits to your pet.

I included carrots in this section although it is not a fruit because it is starchy/sugary and should be given as a treat only. The vitamin A in a carrot may, over time, accumulate in a guinea pig’s liver and cause health problems.

Earth’s Best First Carrots, 45 pesos per 71g bottle, Healthy Options SM North EDSA

Guinea pigs can be fed baby food if they are too sick to eat on their own OR as a treat. Be careful when picking out baby food; although most of them are purely natural, some may have ingredients that are not ideal for guinea pigs. Give your guinea pig some baby food only as needed when he is sick, or made of ingredients that he likes when used as treat. Buy the smallest bottle only because baby food expires quickly. I give 1mL organic carrot baby food ( Earth’s Best First Carrots ) to Almond through a syringe after I give him medicine or vitamins so that he will not be scared of the syringe. He loves carrots and I give it to him as a treat especially when he has to go to the vet.

Ascorbic Acid Ceelin Syrup, 54.75 pesos per 50mL bottle, Mercury Drugstore

Guinea pigs can be given vitamin C syrups or drops that are made for humans, particularly for children. DO NOT GIVE THEM MULTIVITAMINS FOR HUMANS OR OTHER ANIMALS UNLESS RECOMMENDED BY A VET. The difference? Vitamin C syrups are pure and contain only Ascorbic Acid; multivitamin syrups contain many vitamins and minerals that are unnecessary and may be harmful to a guinea pig because they were not formulated for guinea pigs. I give Ceelin to my guinea pig; note that this contains ascorbic acid only (orange box) – it is different from Ceelin Plus which has ascorbic acid and zinc (red box). It is available in most local drugstores since it was made for human children.

LC-VIT Syrup, 300 pesos per 120mL bottle, VIP Animal Hospital Mandaluyong

Guinea pigs may be given multivitamins especially if they are sick. They usually get what they need from their food but if they are sick, they may not eat as much as before. Pick a multivitamin syrup or tablet that was formulated for guinea pigs or was recommended by an experienced small-animals veterinarian. Almond’s vet recommended LC-VIT Syrup (Multivitamins + Lysine), a brand that I also give to my cats. Note that this syrup is “For veterinary use only” which means that it was formulated for animals, not for humans.

Update on LC-VIT Syrup: This is also available at the  Sea and Land Petshop – Shopwise Cubao (a stall near the foodstalls area) for 185 pesos, I wasn’t able to check it up close though because it was on a high shelf. Here’s my blog post about that shop.

Update as of March 27, 2012:

American Pet Diner Grain Hay, image from http://www.leithpetwerks.com/

Grain hay is different from timothy hay and alfalfa hay. Timothy and alfalfa are grass hays (they come from dried grass) while grain hay comes from dried barley and oat stalks. This is “optional” because it is not necessary for guinea pigs; they need GRASS hay, not grain hay though the latter is not bad for them. If you want to give your pet a treat, I recommend grain hay or fresh, juicy vegetables instead of commercial pet treats. American Pet Diner Grain Hay is available at the Sea and Land Pet Shop for 350 pesos per 284g bag.

Ramblings of my Common Sense:

These are observations and deductions that I would like to share as a guinea pig owner:

  • Harmful hay. Whether it is grass hay or grain hay, check the strands of hay. If you try to pull it out or touch it and it hurts your hand, it will probably be bad for your guinea pig since he will put those tough strands in his mouth.
  • Choking hazards. Guinea pigs do not have the gag reflex which means that if something gets lodged in their mouth or throat, they can’t get it out without help from humans. There are guinea pig pellet mixes that have seeds and grains- the nutritional value may be acceptable but there are many choking hazards in it.
  • Animal produce treats. Giving a yogurt treat to a guinea pig is not the same as giving it to a dog. Dogs were originally carnivorous but have, over time, adapted to humans who are omnivores therefore dogs’ digestive systems can process other food items aside from meat. Guinea pigs, however, are still completely herbivorous. Their digestive systems were not made for processing stuff that comes from other animals. Yogurt is processed from cow milk, and cow milk comes from cows. Sure, guinea pigs nurse from their mothers, but cow milk is not the same as guinea pig milk. Think about it this way: would you let a human baby drink cow milk instead of its human mother’s milk? No, because they are different despite being both “milk”.
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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vincent Jude N. Almendra
    Jul 01, 2016 @ 11:46:07

    HI dinDeen! Is it okay to mix the vit-C to the cavies’ water?? or shud it be fed to them using the syringe? Thanks! Good day!

    Reply

  2. Coco Bear
    Apr 07, 2016 @ 22:23:07

    Would you let a human baby drink cow milk instead of its human mother’s milk? No, because they are different despite being both “milk”.

    LOVE THIS POINT.

    Reply

  3. Roanne Jane Debil
    Feb 01, 2015 @ 21:31:14

    I shifted to Hagen Cobayes pellets because it is more convenient to buy for me. The price here in Cash and Carry supermarket is php 224 for 1.13 lbs. They are not selling hay =(

    Reply

  4. Valerie Patmore
    Jan 11, 2015 @ 03:55:42

    Just stumbled across your blog and have found it very helpful and informative. …thank you.
    Val from UK.

    Reply

  5. Nikki Martinez
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 18:42:18

    Hi Dindeen, thank you for your very informative blog. I just want to know if you can recommend a pet hotel (other than the VIP) where I can leave my two guinea pigs while am out of the country for at least 5days? Appreciate your help 🙂

    Reply

    • DinDeen
      Aug 30, 2014 @ 14:53:22

      I don’t know of any pet hotels aside from VIP, unfortunately. But some veterinarians do accept stay-in pets, so as long as the vet specializes in exotic/small animals then they would have the accommodations for guinea pigs. Rescue shelters such as PAWS do not offer boarding services, and most pet hotels only cater to dogs so the only one that I can really suggest is VIP.

      Reply

      • Nikki Martinez
        Sep 03, 2014 @ 14:22:59

        Thanks a lot! I got one from VIP in Katupunan. I appreciate your help. Hope we can meet in person 🙂

  6. Joy
    May 13, 2014 @ 10:12:41

    Hi, there’s a “star grass” advertised on OLX as a “vet recommended” substitute for timothy hay. Star grass is a common name for several widely different species, though, so I’m not sure what it really is. Seller’s ok; I’ve bought imported packed hay from him before, but I’m interested to know what you think.

    Link to the ad is here:
    http://www.olx.ph/index.php/view+classifieds/id/38773312/Timothy+Hay?referralKeywords=timothy+hays&event=Search+Ranking,Position,1-3,3#advertisementDetails

    Reply

  7. Momo
    Apr 21, 2014 @ 17:29:20

    Hi there, Id like to ask how you handle your guinea pig when you give it Vitamic C, or how you make him take the Vit C since its the syrup type? I plan on giving him the same brand, or maybe the chewable vitamin C.

    Reply

    • DinDeen
      Apr 24, 2014 @ 15:39:52

      I give the syrup type, not drops (too thick) and not chewable.

      I put it in 1cc/1mL syringe that has no needle then I slowly push the medicine into his mouth. You can try it little by little. So far my guinea pigs like it and they don’t make a fuss. Don’t give it to guinea pigs below a month old or are still suckling though since they might choke if they try to suckle on the syringe. Older guinea pigs will know how to drink from a syringe, like how they drink from a water bottle.

      Reply

      • Momo
        Apr 27, 2014 @ 16:55:04

        Do you fill the entire 1ml of the syringe?

      • DinDeen
        May 02, 2014 @ 17:16:57

        1mL every day is good for adult guinea pigs (or at least 800grams guinea pig). I give 2mL when the piggy is sick.

        0.5ml to 1mL should be enough for daily dosage.

  8. Lyn
    Feb 02, 2012 @ 23:32:59

    Hi, I wandered over to your blog from Googling for LC-VIT. Dr. Donato of VIP Mandaluyong prescribed it for one of my dwarf rabbits to boost his appetite, and it’s worked wonderfully. I have a question for you, though–have you ever noticed the syrup getting cloudy at the top? The expiration date is still 2 years away, and it doesn’t smell any different (maybe a bit more sugary), so I can’t tell if it’s gone bad. I’m also wondering if it’s available at Mercury–likely not, but if it is, I’d rather get a new bottle than continue giving my rabbits dubious cloudy vitamin syrup.

    Reply

    • DinDeen
      Feb 03, 2012 @ 14:07:19

      I’ve used LC-vit for years, previously for my cats only and now for my guinea pig too. While the bottle is unopened, I store it in a cabinet but once I open the bottle, I store it in the fridge. If the bottle or the syringe that contains it is moved, bubbles easily form on the top of medicine but they are clear, not cloudy; I have a large bottle of LC-vit for my cats and it has been in the fridge for about half a year, it is very clear, not cloudy.

      It is not available in Mercury because it’s animal medicine, but most vet clinics should have it in stock because it is a multivitamin for many types of animals.

      I suggest buying a new bottle for your rabbits, and store it in the fridge once opened.

      Reply

  9. dino
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 07:17:28

    Great post especially the one about the vegetables’ local aliases.

    Reply

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