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Thread: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

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    Cavy Slave
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    My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    So my local vet says that guinea pigs should be given pellets as a treat. The current pellets brand I am using is 'Foragers Feast'. Apparently, it's very good for pigs. What's confused me is that apparently guinea pigs should always be given pellets, so I'm not quite sure on what to do...

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    Administrator lissie's Avatar
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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Is this the food you're feeding?
    http://peterspureanimalfoods.com/pro...gers-feast.php

    If it is, it's very unhealthy. The pellets you feed should be plain pellets. The main ingredient should be timothy hay or other kinds of grass hay.


    While pellets is the smallest part of their diets, I won't say it should be a treat.

    The recommended amount of pellets for adult pigs is 1/8 - 1/4 cups of pellets per pig per day.

    They should always have unlimited grass hay, and about a cup of veggies.

    See this page on how to select good quality pellets.
    http://www.guinealynx.info/pellets.html

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    If it's Peters ANYTHING...it is only good for compost. Their entire range is crap.

    You can purchase Oxbow from selected Pet Stores and ebay (and a few other online places as well). It's typically cheaper to buy instore. You can find locations here
    http://oxbowaustralia.com/retail-locations/

    Oxbow is the only food in Australia that is suitable for Guinea Pigs, it's grass hay based (ALL Australian foods are Lucerne based) and is probably in the top 3 foods worldwide. It's a little pricey but you only need a tablespoon per pig per day (for adults), so a bag lasts quite awhile.

    As an aside, I'd ask what qualifications this vet has for treating Guinea Pigs, he sounds like he doesn't have a clue.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    This vet sounds like he's not qualified to treat guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are an exotic pet and should be taken to an exotic vet. You can also find vets that a qualified as an exotic vet and a dog and cat vet. Like we have one called johnson/mckee animal hospital. Don't be afraid to ask if they are certified as an exotic vet. Some are willing to even show their certificates.

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    Cavy Slave GuineaPigster's Avatar
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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Great opinions!
    I agree. Forager's Feast should NEVER be fed. Please make sure your vet is trained in exotics, and switch your pigs to a new diet.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner Guineapigpro's Avatar
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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    As an aside, I'd ask what qualifications this vet has for treating Guinea Pigs, he sounds like he doesn't have a clue.
    This vet sounds like he's not qualified to treat guinea pigs.
    Why is this such an awful thing for her vet to say? Some people say that it's better for pigs to be on a pellet-free diet, and that pellets cause gas. Also, if your vet is referring yo the fact that only 1/8-1/4 of a cup should be given because hay should the primary source of nutrition, then she's/he's right. That's not an incorrect statement.

    Also, those specific pellets should definitely only be fed as a treat, if even at all.

    I don't know your vet; maybe it's not an exotic vet. It it's not, then you should definitely get one. My guinea pigs have suffered greatly from OD of meds of a noncavy savvy vet. But I don't know why we should all jump to conclusions.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guineapigpro View Post
    Also, those specific pellets should definitely only be fed as a treat, if even at all.
    That's what I thought she might be talking about.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    There are many very qualified and experienced vets and guinea pig owners alike that agree that a pelletless diet is best. Calcium content and source in pellets can be a significant issue for many pigs, whereas the same amount of calcium coming from a natural (ie fresh veggie) source does not cause the same issue. When you add in other potential issues such as weight, gas, teeth health... there can be a long list of reasons why fresh veggies and hay alone can be better.

    When going with a pelletless diet, there is more effort needed on the owners part to ensure that the entire range of nutritional needs are met, but there is absolutely no reason to dismiss this vet based on this recommendation. My vet, who is absolutely amazing, strongly advocates for no pellets, ever.

    My pigs get KMS pellets - just a few - as a treat here and there. I have had a stone pig in the past, and with one of my current pigs, any pellets, even just a taste, brings the calcium back in her urine. I believe that @bpatters has gone pelletless with her pigs because of calcium issues as well. If you search here and on guinealynx, you'll see a lot of other discussion and support for this approach.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner pinky's Avatar
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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Quote Originally Posted by cavy_jdas View Post
    There are many very qualified and experienced vets and guinea pig owners alike that agree that a pelletless diet is best. Calcium content and source in pellets can be a significant issue for many pigs, whereas the same amount of calcium coming from a natural (ie fresh veggie) source does not cause the same issue. When you add in other potential issues such as weight, gas, teeth health... there can be a long list of reasons why fresh veggies and hay alone can be better.

    When going with a pelletless diet, there is more effort needed on the owners part to ensure that the entire range of nutritional needs are met, but there is absolutely no reason to dismiss this vet based on this recommendation. My vet, who is absolutely amazing, strongly advocates for no pellets, ever.

    My pigs get KMS pellets - just a few - as a treat here and there. I have had a stone pig in the past, and with one of my current pigs, any pellets, even just a taste, brings the calcium back in her urine. I believe that @bpatters has gone pelletless with her pigs because of calcium issues as well. If you search here and on guinealynx, you'll see a lot of other discussion and support for this approach.
    I'm curious what vet you see in the Chicago area. When one of my guinea pigs had a bladder stone around 11 years ago, my vet discussed a pelletless diet and said there was research being done at a Chicago university to find a diet that would eliminate stones in pigs. The diet itself had things like kale and oatmeal I don't feed to my guinea pigs. I had it written down somewhere but can't find it. I switched back to a regular diet when my guinea pig's stone grew rapidly after the diet switch. What diet does your vet advocate and where did he study? Does he have any stats that this diet is better?

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    There is no reason a gp should go pellet less unless they are having issues like bpatters pig does. One of her pigs that has issues does better with this diet but the other one doesn't. It's not better. Assuming you are giving a great brand, they are getting some minerals that they may not be with a veggie and hay diet only. 1/8 cup of pellets a day per pig is what's recommended.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    For anyone in Europe, there's a completely grainfree pellet without any added calcium - only 0.5% calcium from parsley & dandelion leaves.
    The first three ingredients are different kinds of hay, and one of my sows (who is prone to sludge) did well on it.
    The vit C content is a bit low though, but I would recommend it before going completely pellet free.
    http://www.zooplus.com/shop/rodents/...jr_farm/178337

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    I was having a lot of calcium issues with my pigs even when I was ordering good pellets. I tried going pelletless and have been for over 6 months now. They get occasional pellets as a treat but the main source of their diet is unlimited good quality hay and veggies. We have absolutely no calcium issues now and they are healthier than ever. It's not for everyone, but it can be a healthy alternative diet for pigs having issues and of course if you watch them closely to ensure they are getting propper nutrition.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Has it been proven that the lack of sludge means they aren't forming stones? I never noticed sludge from my male that died from stones. Could it be possible that fine sludge is actually calcium being excreted instead of being formed into stones? Too much phosphorus is bad, too, so the ratio of each has always been noted when diet and nutritional charts are made.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Quote Originally Posted by pinky View Post
    I'm curious what vet you see in the Chicago area. When one of my guinea pigs had a bladder stone around 11 years ago, my vet discussed a pelletless diet and said there was research being done at a Chicago university to find a diet that would eliminate stones in pigs. The diet itself had things like kale and oatmeal I don't feed to my guinea pigs. I had it written down somewhere but can't find it. I switched back to a regular diet when my guinea pig's stone grew rapidly after the diet switch. What diet does your vet advocate and where did he study? Does he have any stats that this diet is better?
    My current vet is Dr. Diane Poliakof in Elmwood Park. I have been going to her for about 3 or so years, and I cannot say enough good things about her. She is very honest about where she has seen conflicting research, gives her recommendation based on her experience and perspective, and is always non-judgemental on my decisions (whether they align with her opinion or not) in the process.

    She is not doing active research on this. I had asked her about this at one point (we were discussing a trend she was seeing between teeth issues and stones), and she pointed out that publishable research involves a very negative impact on your control groups of animals. She is somehow affiliated with a university and often has students shadowing her, she is very up to date on other publications and current thinking, she sees guinea pigs on a daily basis, but she does not conduct specific animal studies. (I also do not think she would ever recommend the oatmeal.)

    Her recommendation is 1/4 green pepper, unlimited greens, unlimited hay. And then a few bits of other veggies in a variety, but not at the expense of the pepper and greens. There are a lot she eliminates as well, such as anything that is potentially gassy she does not recommend even in small amounts.

    Prior to her, I was seeing Dr. Byron de Navarre in the city. Although he may be involved in some research, I again don't think he'd recommend a diet that contained oatmeal. (To anyone looking for a vet, he, too, is wonderful and highly recommended.)

    To those that are hung up on needing to feed pellets, I feel like that is akin to us eating prepared and processed foods that are vitamin fortified. I think they are a convenience because they package a recommended percentage into an easy to feed and easy to store bulk form. Yes, my pigs still get some, but I feel like KMS is probably the best pellet out there, and I give it as a treat, and cautiously because of the calcium issues. I also had an overweight sow and underweight neutered male pair that both regulated back to better weights when the pellets came out of their diets. I had been hesitant to eliminate the pellets because the male always was always at a low weight, but decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Quote Originally Posted by cavy_jdas View Post
    My current vet is Dr. Diane Poliakof in Elmwood Park. I have been going to her for about 3 or so years, and I cannot say enough good things about her. She is very honest about where she has seen conflicting research, gives her recommendation based on her experience and perspective, and is always non-judgemental on my decisions (whether they align with her opinion or not) in the process.

    She is not doing active research on this. I had asked her about this at one point (we were discussing a trend she was seeing between teeth issues and stones), and she pointed out that publishable research involves a very negative impact on your control groups of animals. She is somehow affiliated with a university and often has students shadowing her, she is very up to date on other publications and current thinking, she sees guinea pigs on a daily basis, but she does not conduct specific animal studies. (I also do not think she would ever recommend the oatmeal.)

    Her recommendation is 1/4 green pepper, unlimited greens, unlimited hay. And then a few bits of other veggies in a variety, but not at the expense of the pepper and greens. There are a lot she eliminates as well, such as anything that is potentially gassy she does not recommend even in small amounts.

    Prior to her, I was seeing Dr. Byron de Navarre in the city. Although he may be involved in some research, I again don't think he'd recommend a diet that contained oatmeal. (To anyone looking for a vet, he, too, is wonderful and highly recommended.)

    To those that are hung up on needing to feed pellets, I feel like that is akin to us eating prepared and processed foods that are vitamin fortified. I think they are a convenience because they package a recommended percentage into an easy to feed and easy to store bulk form. Yes, my pigs still get some, but I feel like KMS is probably the best pellet out there, and I give it as a treat, and cautiously because of the calcium issues. I also had an overweight sow and underweight neutered male pair that both regulated back to better weights when the pellets came out of their diets. I had been hesitant to eliminate the pellets because the male always was always at a low weight, but decided to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised.
    I looked her up. She's at Midwest Bird and Exotics and studied at the University of IL. I'm familiar with them. I couldn't remember if my vet said his contact was at the University of Chicago or University of IL. He said they did research on guinea pig diet, trying to find an answer to stone formation since guinea pigs were used in research. They wanted to find a way to keep from losing a large number of animals to stones. I think it was around 2002 that he gave me the diet. My guess is that they've probably tried a lot of other diets since then. Who knows... stone formation could be genetic or something completely unrelated to food like body temperature or stress levels. I've owned about 31 guinea pigs in my lifetime (I'm in my 50's) and have lost two to stones. I took both of them in as older adults so I can't say what caused the stones. I've had guinea pigs with powdery sludge but never with gritty sludge and I've always fed pellets. I do watch the Ca:P levels. I've always wondered whether guinea pigs have always been prone to stones or if it's something that's developed since they were domesticated.

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    Quote Originally Posted by spy9doc View Post
    In both instances, you say "I don't think........". I'm presuming this is your opinion and not a direct quote from either Vet?

    We're not talking about feeding oatmeal (as in cooked), we're talking about feeding oats....regular uncooked rolled oats. I wouldn't have believed it myself, but I occasionally go to cavy shows where I have the opportunity to interact with and ask questions of some of the finest breeders in the eastern US. It's a gold mine of information that I haven't obtained elsewhere.

    Anyway, after having commented on the beautiful coats of some of the cavies, I was told to add some oats in with their pellets, especially in the winter. All I can tell you is that from my experience (and that of a friend), it certainly makes a difference.
    That's what my vet had said, too. Don't overfeed on pellets but only offer a small amount, like a tablespoon. I don't feed my guinea pigs oatmeal regularly but I have offered it as a treat.

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    Cavy Slave hectorandpercy's Avatar
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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    what would an example menu for one day be for a pelletless diet?

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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    I second @hectorandpercy on that question, I've been considering going pelletless, because the pellets I feed my girls, atrociously, don't have a list of ingredients on the side. I honestly never even thought to look which I know, is terrible of me. Out of curiosity I got up to look at my pellet bag, and no ingredients list to be found.

    The information provided on the website was of little help either. -
    Vitamins;
    Minerals;
    Fibre;
    Vitamin C;
    Profeed - boosts your guinea pigs’s digestion and general health.
    Guinea Pigs, just like us can be fussy eaters and can be prone to eating only the parts of a traditional muesli food that they like, which can result in your guinea pig not receiving a balanced diet.
    Nugget Food for Guinea Pigs by Pets at Home is a great choice, with all the essential nutrition of a muesli food blended into one tasty nugget.
    Guinea Pigs, like humans, cannot produce their own vitamin C and must receive it via their food.
    Nugget Food for Guinea Pigs by Pets at Home contains enhanced vitamin C to boost your guinea pigs immune system and maintain general health.
    Your guinea pig’s diet should be supplemented with additional roughage, which can be provided through feeding hay like the Timothy Hay by Pets at Home.
    This not only aids your guinea pig’s digestion, but the gnawing action will also help to keep its teeth trim and healthy.

    That's what the website provides on 'ingredients'. I'm also questioning the statement where they say you should SUPPLEMENT with hay. Ridiculous.

    But yeah, after this, I'm considering going pelletless. Any tips on menu etc?

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    Cavy Slave hectorandpercy's Avatar
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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    ive been feeding mine some by a brand called supreme i think and theyre pretty good they seem healthier since i changed to them and they have a alot of energy but i never new that people even fed pigs pellet free diets

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    Cavy Slave hectorandpercy's Avatar
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    Re: My vet says pellets should only be given as a treat....?

    actually its one called mr johnsons my old one was supreme but I changed

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