Swiss chard is one such vegetable that can be well defined as a powerhouse of nutrients. Right from Vitamins, minerals to antioxidants, chard have them all. But are chard good for our guinea pigs? Are guinea pigs allowed to eat chard?
Can guinea pigs eat swiss chard? Yes, guinea pigs can eat swiss chard. Chard is full of Vitamins and minerals essential for our guinea pigs. However, it would be best if you only fed chard in moderation as overfeeding can lead to diarrhea and other health issues. Other chards like red chard, green chard, rainbow chard are also equally suitable for guinea pigs to eat.
So, now you know that guinea pigs can eat chard. But why do they need all these veggies in the first place?
As you might already know, the staple part of a guinea pig’s diet is hay. Vegetables are more like a supplement in their daily diet.
While hay provides them with carbs and fiber, vegetable supplements much needed Vitamin C and Other essential vitamins and minerals in your guinea pig’s diet.
Thus it is recommended that you provide a mix of 5-6 vegetables daily to your guinea pigs. Serve a cup of fresh veggies to make sure their diet is complete.
You can include two leafy vegetables like Lettuce, cabbage, spinach, kale, etc., one or two staple vegetables like Bell peppers, Cilantro, etc. and one or two other veggies to make a complete balanced diet.
Coming back to the point, so now you know that veggies are essential parts of your guinea pigs diet let us look at where does swiss chard and other varieties of chard fit in.
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Nutrition in swiss chard?
Source: USDA National Nutrient database
|Vitamin C||30 mg/ 100 g|
|Vitamin A||6116 IU|
|Vitamin K||830 mcg/ 100 g|
|Calcium||51 mg/ 100 g|
|Phosphorous||46 mg/ 100 g|
|Potassium||379 mg/ 100 g|
|Fiber||1.6 g/ 100 g|
|Sugar||1.1 g/ 100 g|
|Protein||1.8 g/ 100 g|
|Carbs||3.74 g/ 100 g|
|Fat||0.2 g/ 100 g|
|Water||92.66 g/ 100 g|
Swiss chard is an excellent source of Vitamin A and Vitamin K. These Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of the body.
While Vitamin A is needed for the proper operation of the liver, kidney, and heart.
Vitamin K is essential for quick recovery of injuries and preventing excessive bleeding from an injury.
Chard is also a great source of Vitamin C, which is another crucial vitamin for the body. Vitamin C is needed for maintaining a robust immune system, prevention of diseases, and other vital functions of the body.
Apart from all these Vitamins, chard also provides calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, carotene, polyphenols, etc. that are needed by the body.
So, now that you know what the nutrients present in chard is let us learn about which of them are good and which are bad for our guinea pigs.
Is chard bad for guinea pigs?
No, chard is good for guinea pigs until fed in moderation. As I always say, “Anything in excess is bad for health,” the same applies to guinea pigs as well.
Leafy vegetables like spinach, beet greens and chard are excellent sources of nutrients for our guinea pigs. However, these greens are rich in oxalic acids as well, and excessive feeding of the same is terrible for our guinea pig’s health.
As per the studies, a guinea pig should not have more than 50 grams of oxalic acid daily. That means their diet should be well-balanced, and the oxalic acid should not go beyond that limit.
Let us look at some common health issues that guinea pigs can have if you overfeed them chard:
- Stone formation: Bladder stones are one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases among guinea pigs. These stones are mostly formed due to calcium binding with oxalate acid in their bodies. Thus, overfeeding a diet rich in calcium and oxalate acid is a terrible choice you can make.
- Diarrhea: Diarrhea is also prevalent in guinea pigs & sometimes it can be fatal for your guinea pig’s life as well. Guinea pigs have a sensitive digestive system, and overfeeding any food can set it off balance leading to severe diarrhea.
- Renal system failure: Guinea pigs can only take a limited amount of oxalic acid at once. If you overfeed oxalic acid to your guinea pigs, then they can suffer from renal failure, sometimes leading to death. Thus, make sure you only feed chard in small quantities to your guinea pigs.
Chard is good for humans as well as guinea pigs. However, overfeeding the same can lead to a lot of health issues in guinea pigs. Thus, you must ensure that you are feeding them the right diet.
Benefits of chard for guinea pig’s health?
Swiss chard or even chard, in general, is a great leafy vegetable for your guinea pigs. If we feed chard in moderation, then guinea pigs can have a lot of health benefits from the same. Here are some to begin with:
- Prevention of scurvy: Chard contains a lot of Vitamin C in it. Guinea pigs need 30mg of vitamin c daily to prevent diseases like scurvy. Thus, adding vegetables like chard, cilantro, or even kale can help reach that mark easily. It would be best if you focused on providing guinea pigs with a diet rich in Vitamin C as they cannot produce vitamin c on their own.
- Smooth and healthy coat: Chard is an excellent source of beta carotene, which helps the body in absorbing other nutrients. It also helps guinea pigs in maintaining a smooth and healthy coat. Thus, I would recommend adding some fresh chard into your guinea pig’s diet.
- Quick recovery of wounds: Vitamin K and Vitamin A can be found in abundance in chard. Providing your guinea pigs with a diet rich in these vitamins can improve their immune system and also help in quick recovery of wounds or any other disease they may have.
- Improving eyesight: Guinea pigs have poor vision, and it keeps getting worse as they age up. Throwing some food rich in Vitamin A can help guinea pigs in keeping up with good eyesight. At least it can slow down the process of degeneration, which is good for our guinea pigs.
There are countless more benefits of chard for guinea pigs. However, the fact is your guinea pigs can only take the benefits if you feed it in the right quantity and at the proper schedule. So, let us learn more about how often you should feed them swiss chard and how much?
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How often can guinea pigs eat swiss chard?
Guinea pigs can eat swiss chard up to 4 times a week. However, that is on the higher end. You should aim for 2-3 times a week at max to ensure your guinea pigs don’t suffer from health issues.
Always make sure you mix it with other veggies and serve accordingly.
How much chard should I feed my guinea pig?
It would be best if you fed a small leaf of chard to your guinea pigs two-three times a week. Never feed it daily as it can lead to health issues in your piggies. You should mix it with other low calcium veggies like bell peppers, cilantro, lettuce, etc.
I have found a unique way of introducing vegetables and fruits excitingly. I usually get one of these vegetable holders(from Amazon) and put the vegetables into it. This way, my guinea pigs have some fun while munching on their veggies apart from what is there on the bowl.
Can guinea pigs eat chard leaves?
Yes, chard leaves are a significant part of the vegetable. You can definitely feed it to your guinea pigs.
However, make sure you have prepared it correctly for your guinea pigs.
We shall discuss more on preparing chard for your guinea pigs later in the article.
Can guinea pigs eat swiss chard stems?
Yes, chard stems are not that hard and can be easily chewed and eaten by our guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs love to munch on these crunchy stems, and they are beneficial for our guinea pigs as well.
Can guinea pigs eat frozen chard?
No, guinea pigs cannot have frozen chard. It would be best if you thawed the chard before serving it to your guinea pigs.
Cold or frozen food can lead to diarrhea in guinea pigs. Thus, make sure the chard is at room temperature when you feed the same.
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Can guinea pigs eat cooked chard?
No, guinea pigs can’t eat cooked chard at all. Cooked chard or any other cooked food contains some oil, spices, and other ingredients that can harm your guinea pigs.
Also, cooking the chard often leads to a loss in some nutrients(especially vitamin c), which is not something you want.
It is recommended to avoid any sort of cooked food in your guinea pig’s diet. Serve only raw, fresh vegetables as it is what they need the most. You can read more about How Cooking Affects The Nutrient Content of Foods from this source.
How to prepare chard for your guinea pigs?
It is easy and quick to prepare chard for our guinea pigs. Here are a few simple steps you can follow to do the same:
- The first step is to choose fresh and good quality chard for your guinea pigs. Avoid anything that contains is wilting or contains a lot of chemicals in it.
- The next step is to wash the chard properly. Make sure you get rid of dirt or any chemicals that could have been on the leaves.
- The third step is to chop the chard into small pieces. Make sure you mix it well with other veggies. Chard does have a bitter taste, and combining it with other vegetables makes it tough for guinea pigs to leave it behind and pick other good veggies only.
- The final step is to remove any uneaten food from the cage. Uneaten food can attract rats and flies, which is a threat to your guinea pigs.
Conclusion: Guinea pigs and chard
- Chard is an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and a lot of other essential nutrients needed by our guinea pigs.
- Can guinea pigs eat swiss chard? Yes, you should definitely include swiss chard in their diet.
- Make sure you serve swiss chard in moderation. Anything between 2-3 times a week works great. Also, make sure you don’t help more than a small leaf at a time.
- Overfeeding chard often leads to bladder stones, severe diarrhea, renal system failure, and even death in some cases.
- Also, remember that hay is a significant portion of your guinea pig’s diet. Under no circumstances, it should be replaced with pellets or vegetables.
- Hay for your guinea pigs(What type, How much and more)
- Guinea pig diet: A complete A-Z of what guinea pigs can eat!
Yes, guinea pigs can eat kale and chard. However, make sure you feed them sparsely with a mix of other low calcium veggies.
Yes, guinea pigs can eat baby red chard. However, never feed it more than one-two leaf at a time.
Yes, guinea pigs can eat red chard.
Yes, guinea pigs can eat green chard.
Yes, guinea pigs can eat ruby chard.
Yes, guinea pigs can eat rainbow chard.
Source: Health benefits of Swiss chard, Rainbow Chard Nutritional Value, Renal system failure in guinea pigs due to high oxalate, Vitamin A Requirement of the Guinea Pig, high-potassium induced contracture in guinea pig ureter, The effects of diet on anatomy, physiology, and health in the guinea pig, Is Your Guinea Pig’s Diet Providing the Right Nutrients? Care of Guinea Pigs