All guinea pigs need some sort of grass hay included in their diet. There are a few different types of hay that guinea pigs like, but timothy hay is clearly one of the most nutritious options. In fact, most veterinarians and experienced guinea pig keepers recommend that you make hay available to your pet at all times.
But you can’t just select the cheapest timothy hay you find. Instead, you’ll want to carefully scrutinize the different options on the market and pick one that is delicious, nutritious and safe for your pet. We’ll try to help you do exactly that below, by identifying eight of the best timothy hays on the market.
The Importance of Timothy Hay for Guinea Pigs
Before we get to our individual product recommendations, it is important to take a moment to explain why hay – especially timothy hay – is so important for your guinea pig. Some of the primary benefits timothy hay provide include the following:
Timothy Hay Helps Stimulate Your Pet’s Natural Foraging Behavior
Guinea pigs don’t exist in the wild (they’re a domesticated species), but their close relatives who do live in the wild are herbivores who spend a lot of time foraging on natural herbs and grasses. These behaviors are important for their health and happiness, and you can stimulate these same behaviors by providing your pet with some timothy hay to enjoy.
Timothy Hay Is a Great Source of Fiber
Guinea pigs need a very high-fiber diet to ensure proper intestinal function. Copious amounts of fiber are also necessary to ensure that the beneficial bacteria in their stomachs have enough food to survive. Pellets rarely provide sufficient fiber to keep a guinea pig healthy, but timothy hay is full of fiber and helps address these needs.
Timothy Hay Helps Promote Dental Health
A guinea pig’s teeth continue to grow throughout its life. If they don’t have access to a tough food source that helps to wear down their teeth, they can become overgrown and lead to serious dental problems. Fortunately, timothy hay is quite abrasive, so it helps to keep your guinea pig’s teeth the proper length.
Timothy Hay Helps Keep Your Pet Occupied
Guinea pigs may not be as smart as dogs or cats, but they still require mental stimulation. If left without anything to do, they can become bored and depressed, which may eventually lead to illness. However, by providing your pet with a rack full of timothy hay, you’ll give him the chance to forage and chew, which will help provide a bit of mental stimulation.
Timothy Hay Is a Great Component of a Varied Diet
One of the most important things you can do to keep your guinea pig healthy is to provide him with a well-rounded, varied diet. This will help prevent the kind of nutritional deficiencies that can afflict guinea pigs who aren’t afforded a varied diet. And because most guinea pigs like timothy hay, it makes a great component of a varied diet.
The 8 Best Timothy Hays for Your Pet Guinea Pig
There are a seemingly infinite number of timothy hay products on the market, but there are significant differences between many of them. To help you narrow down your search and choose the best one for your pet, we’ve assembled eight of the best timothy hays on the market below.
Small Pet Select Timothy Hay is a premium-quality timothy hay prepared in small batches by fellow animal lovers. This timothy hay is delivered in an easy-open corrugated box to make it easy to reach in, grab some hay and fill up your pet’s hay rack. This makes storing your pet’s timothy hay a snap and helps to keep it fresh.
Made from 2nd cutting hay, this product contains an ideal mix of leaves, seed-heads and stems. This not only provides optimum nutrition for your pet, but most guinea pigs will love chewing on this special blend.
And you don’t have to worry whether or not your pet will like Small Pet Select, as it’s backed by the manufacturer’s 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Oxbow Western Timothy Hay is a high-quality timothy hay that will help keep your guinea pig healthy and happy.
Oxbow Animal Health was actually the first pet food company to introduce timothy hay as a dietary staple. They only use all-natural, US-grown timothy hay, which ensures your pet is getting only the best. In fact, each batch is hand-selected by Oxbow Owner John Miller to ensure the best possible quality.
Most guinea pigs love this brand of timothy hay, as it provides a great mix of taste and texture. It is not only sweet, yet hearty, it is soft, yet still crunchy too. It is made without any additives or preservatives, and it is primarily comprised of leaves and stems, with minimal seed heads mixed in.
Standlee Premium Western Timothy Grass is an all-natural timothy hay made without any chemicals, additives, preservatives or artificial flavors.
Standlee hand selects the timothy hay for each batch to ensure the highest quality forage possible for your pet. They even hand-sort each batch before packaging. This means that unlike some low-quality timothy hay products, this product is guaranteed not to contain any noxious weeds.
Standlee Premium Western Timothy Grass is also sun-cured, unlike some other hays, which are dried in a commercial oven or kiln. It is also comprised of long fibers, which will help stimulate your pet’s natural foraging instincts. This will help ensure that your guinea pig enjoys feeding on the hay.
Because this western timothy hay is hand-sorted and sun-cured, it may vary slightly in color and appearance, but this should be no cause for concern.
Kaytee is a giant in the pet food industry, and they’ve been around for years. They make a variety of healthy pet foods, including Kaytee Timothy Hay. Kaytee Timothy Hay is grown in an ecologically appropriate region for moisture and climate control, and it is then stored in carefully designed warehouses, to ensure it remains healthy, nutritious and delicious.
Comprised of a blend of 1st and 2nd cuttings, this product is a premium hay blend that most guinea pigs should love. This blend is comprised of an optimum blend of stems and leaves, and it also includes plenty of seed heads for variety.
This hay is available in two different package sizes, and you can also purchase it in a 2- or 3-pack for additional convenience.
Some guinea pigs are a bit pickier than others, and some owners like to spoil their pet a bit more than most others. The Kaytee Timothy Hay Plus 5-pack is perfect for such situations, as it not only contains the same high-quality timothy hay you’d expect from Kaytee, but it also includes added flavors and textures.
Each bag in this 5-pack features a different all-natural additive. One includes dehydrated carrots, one features dried mint leaves, one contains dehydrated marigolds, one is full of dried cranberries and the final pack is chock full of dehydrated mango pieces.
Kaytee Timothy Hay Plus is hand selected to ensure a proper ratio of stems, leaves and seed heads, and it is stored in a protected environment during the drying process to ensure it retains its nutrition and flavor.
Kaytee Wafer-Cut Hay provides all of the quality you’ve come to expect from Kaytee, and it comes in an appealing wafer-cut form as well. This is more appealing to some guinea pigs and their owners, as it is easier to peel and typically creates less of a mess than standard-cut hay.
Kaytee’s Wafer-Cut Hay is made from premium, all-natural timothy hay. Unlike some lesser timothy hay products, Kaytee Wafer-Cut Hay is made without any artificial colors or flavors, so you can rest assured that your pet is getting only the best.
This timothy hay is grown in the U.S. under ideal environmental conditions to ensure maximum quality and moisture control. Kaytee Wafer-Cut Hay comes in 16- and 60-ounce packages, so you can select the amount that’s perfect for your pet and budget.
Vitakraft Fresh & Natural Timothy Hay is a high-quality timothy hay that is comprised of 100% US-grown grass. An all-natural product, this hay is grown without the use of pesticides of any kind. Additionally, it contains no artificial colors or preservatives – this is just natural, delicious and nutritious hay for your pet.
This hay is also super-cleaned to ensure that it doesn’t become contaminated with bacteria or molds during the packaging process, and it comes in small bales that are the perfect size for a single feeding. This also helps maximize the product freshness, which will help keep your guinea pig happy and satisfied.
Vitakraft Timothy Hay is available in both 28- and 56-ounce packages, so you can select the quantity that best suits you and your pet.
Carefresh Timothy Hay is a premium-quality timothy hay that is manufactured with care in the USA. In fact, it is grown in particularly nutrient-rich soil to ensure your pet gets only the best.
This hay product is made solely from first-cut grass for maximum palatability and nutrition. It is primarily comprised of stems and leaves, but it also contains some seed heads for variety and texture. The long fibers that comprise this blend help to stimulate your pet’s natural foraging instincts, which will help ensure he eats enough hay to stay healthy.
Carefresh Timothy Hay is packaged in a 32-ounce plastic bag to help ensure it stays fresh until you open the bag.
Timothy Hay FAQs
A lot of guinea pig owners have questions about the subject of timothy hay. We’ll try to help answer a few of the most common questions below.
Do I have to give my guinea pig timothy hay?
You don’t have to give your pet timothy hay – you could select another type of hay, such as alfalfa hay. However, timothy hay is generally considered the best for guinea pigs, it is readily available and affordable. Accordingly, there’s little reason to use any other type of hay.
Timothy Hay Vs. Alfalfa Hay: Which type of hay is best for my pet?
At first glance, timothy hay and alfalfa hay seem very similar. However, from a nutritional standpoint, they are very different. The most noteworthy difference between the two is that alfalfa hay contains much more calcium and a greater number of calories than timothy hay does.
This means that you’ll usually want to stick to timothy hay for your guinea pig, as alfalfa hay may lead to obesity and cause your pet to suffer from bladder or kidney stones. But there are two exceptions to this guideline: Young guinea pigs (under 6 months of age) and pregnant or lactating guinea pigs can actually benefit from the additional calories and calcium content alfalfa hay provides.
How much timothy hay should I give my pet?
Different authorities recommend feeding different amounts of timothy hay to guinea pigs. Some recommend that timothy hay comprise 10% of your pet’s diet, while others recommend making it a much larger percentage of your pet’s food mix. Just make sure that you give your pet as much as he’ll eat – it’s unlikely that your pet will eat enough to cause a problem.
How often should I give my guinea pig timothy hay?
It is wise to make timothy hay available to your pet at all times, but if you don’t want to do this, be sure to offer it on a daily basis. The easiest way to provide timothy hay to your pet is by purchasing a hay rack and filling it with fresh hay every day.
What is the difference between “first cut” and “second cut” (or “third cut”) hay?
Farmers growing timothy grass usually cut and bale the hay two or three times each year. The term “first cut,” refers to the hay produced from the first cutting, while “second cut” hay refers to that which was cut the second time, and so on.
There are several key differences between first, second and third cut hays, but we’ll summarise the most important distinctions below:
- First cut hay usually contains relatively thin and flexible stems. It is also quite “lean,” meaning it has lots of fiber and relatively few calories. This is a good hay for overweight guinea pigs.
- Second cut hay is the most common type owners feed to their guinea pigs, and it is usually the most nutritionally appropriate variety to offer healthy adult guinea pigs. It is often very fragrant and the stems will be relatively thin.
- Third cut hay is typically very soft and leafy. It is the “richest” of the three cuts, as it is loaded with fat, yet relatively low in fiber content. This type of hay should be fed sparingly, although it can be helpful for nursing sick or malnourished guinea pigs back to health.
Can I just throw timothy hay on the floor of my pet’s enclosure?
No. It is never a good idea to throw timothy hay on the floor of your pet’s enclosure. Doing so may allow the hay to become contaminated with food, spilled water, urine or feces – any of which may cause the hay to spoil. Instead, place the hay in a feeding bowl or hay rack to keep it clean and dry.
Does it matter if timothy hay gets wet?
Yes – wet timothy hay can develop mold or fungus, so be sure to offer your pet’s hay in a way that prevents it from becoming wet. If any of your pet’s hay becomes damp, discard it and replace it with fresh, dry hay.
In Summary: Pick the Best Timothy Hay for Your Pet
As you can see, timothy hay is a vital part of your guinea pig’s diet. But don’t become overwhelmed by the number of options on the market. Instead, just look over the eight different products discussed above and try out the one you think will best suit your pet.
For most healthy adults, Oxbow Western Timothy Hay will likely be the best choice. It appears to be of higher quality than many of the other options, most guinea pigs seemed to eat it readily and the majority of owners seemed satisfied with the product’s consistency.
Carefresh Timothy Hay is another viable option that is probably the second-best choice available. Some owners found it messy to dispense, and a few owners complained that it included a few hard stems, but these are relatively easy problems to work around.
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Last update on 2020-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API