Guinea pig’s normal and healthy diet is hay, fresh vegetables, and fruits. However, not all food is safe for them. There are a lot of foods that are harmful to guinea pigs. So, we must be cautious while choosing any kind of food for our guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs have a susceptible digestive system. They cannot digest complex carbohydrates and sugar very well. Cooked and processed food should also be avoided altogether. Plants that are toxic to pets like tomato leaves, avocado, rhubarb, etc. should never be served to guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs should eat foods that they can digest properly, and also excessive feeding of anything is not good because it can cause health problems to guinea pigs.
Adding hay to guinea pigs is the best choice as they can chew it and digest it properly.
Hay contains the right amount of fiber in them, which helps digestion and chewing hay help guinea pigs to strengthen their teeth and keep them short as guinea pig’s teeth grow continuously.
They should be fed with vegetables and fruits that have high nutritional value. Also, make sure whatever you feed them is enrich with Vitamin C as they can not produce Vitamin C on their own.
In this article, we are going to discuss some foods which guinea pigs cannot eat because those foods can be bad for our guinea pig’s health. So, Let’s get right into it.
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What foods can guinea pigs not eat
Here are some food that are harmful to guinea pigs:
- Allium Vegetables(Onions, Garlic, Shallots)
- Iceberg lettuce
- Potato and tomato leaves
- Processed snacks(Chips, fries, etc)
Guinea pigs cannot eat avocado. Avocado contains many chemical components that are bad for guinea pigs.
Avocado contains fatty acids and persin like chemicals. Fatty acids and persin can cause digestive problems and diarrhea in guinea pigs.
Some guinea pigs may also suffer from food toxicity as they cannot throw up once they have ingested anything.
There have been instances where a guinea pig ate an avocado, and it gets stuck to guinea pig’s intestine halfway, and it was removed by minor surgery.
Avocado is a beneficial fruit for humans as it is rich with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients but it is not good for our guinea pigs.
Generally, it is preferred not to feed any kind of seeds to guinea pigs as they may lead to choking hazards in guinea pigs.
For example, guinea pigs cannot eat hard seeds as they can create choking problems for guinea pigs. Seeds like orange, apple, peaches, etc.
But guinea pigs can eat some fruit seeds which are small and nutritious in nature. For example, guinea pigs can eat seeds of strawberries, blackberry, gooseberry, etc.
Seeds of fruits like apple also contain some small amount of cyanide in it. These can be fatal for their health.
Guinea pigs cannot eat chocolate as well.
Chocolates are delightful in taste but they contain a high amount of sugar in them, and that can lead to diabetes and digestion problems in guinea pigs.
It also contains a high amount of fat, calories that contribute to increased body weights of guinea pigs.
Chocolate is also rich in theobromine, and caffeine which should be kept away from pets at all costs.
Allium Vegetables(Onions, Garlic, Shallots)
Feeding guinea pigs with allium vegetables is a bad idea. These vegetables include onion, garlic, shallots, etc.
Although allium vegetables are very good for humans as they are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C.
But the consumption of allium vegetables can be fatal for guinea pigs. Allium vegetables contain disulfide.
They can cause anemia to guinea pigs. These vegetables also contain sugar, which is the main reason for diabetes and digestive problems in guinea pigs.
Rhubarb is not safe for guinea pigs to eat. It contains a high amount of oxalic acid, which can lead to health problems like gastrointestinal issues, diarrhea, and bloating in guinea pigs.
Rhubarb also contains a good amount of sugar, calcium, and phosphorus in them, which is very bad for guinea pig’s health. These can cause diabetes, digestive problems, and kidney problems in guinea pigs.
Guinea pig’s digestive system is made for fresh vegetables and fruits. Iceberg lettuce does not cause that much of a problem for guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs can eat a small amount of iceberg lettuce rarely that will not harm them, but consuming too much can harm them.
Iceberg lettuce does not have any nutritional value for guinea pigs.
They are a combination of water and fiber. This combination can lead to diarrhea in guinea pigs.
And the other concern is that they have calcium and phosphorus present in them, which may cause kidney problems and bladder stones in guinea pigs.
Potato and tomato leaves
Potatoes are full of fiber and starch. Fiber present in potato helps to reduce cholesterol from the body. But potato is for hard for guinea pigs to digest as it contains a lot of starch.
Tomato plant belongs to the nightshade family. Which means tomato leaves contain toxic alkaloids in them. These chemicals are toxic for pets like guinea pigs and should be kept away from them at all costs.
Sugary processed foods
No, guinea pigs cannot eat sweet processed food because they like to eat fresh foods that they can digest properly.
Sugary processed foods contain an excess amount of sugar that can cause diabetes and digestion problems in guinea pigs.
Sugary processed foods can trigger Enterotoxemia in guinea pigs.
Enterotoxemia is a disease that can happen due to the presence of Clostridium type bacteria. These bacteria get a boost from sugary food and thus such food should be avoided altogether.
Processed snacks(Chips, fries, etc)
Whenever you want to eat a quick and tasty snack, the first food you think of is chips. They might be palatable to eat, but they are extremely problematic to guinea pig’s health.
Guinea pigs cannot digest fried or cooked food. Serving cooked food to guinea pigs is a recipe for disaster.
These processed foods can cause problems to guinea pigs health such as:
- Urinary problems: Chips are high in calcium and phosphorus, which can introduce kidney-related problems in guinea pigs.
- Increase body fat: Chips also consists of salt, fiber, carbs, and calories. These are components that promote the increment of body weight.
What to do if your guinea pig ate something poisonous
You always want to keep your guinea pig safe. However, if you end up feeding something bad or they got their hands on something that they should not have eaten otherwise, then the situation can get nasty.
If your guinea ate something toxic. Then you need to follow some signs that will assure you whether they have eaten anything poisonous or not. Let us have a look at those signs:
- Breathing problem
- Mouth sores
- Running away from food and also from you
- Low body temperature
Above are the signs you can passively notice. If you find any of these in your guinea pig, then the first thing you need to do is call a vet or rush your guinea pig to a veterinary clinic.
In the veterinary clinic, your guinea pig will undergo some tests to find about the poisoning. The vet will do a stool test and blood test to check the status of poisoning.
Once all the examination and treatment are completed, and your guinea is ready to go home, you need to take proper care of your guinea pig. Try to give a quiet place for recovery and always try to keep them hydrated.
It is highly recommended to keep them away from harmful components such as household products (detergents, soap), human food, herbicides, poisonous plants, etc.
Food poisoning can be life-threatening for our guinea pigs, as they cannot throw up anything they have ingested. Thus, the food needs to go through their digestive system, and it can cause severe damage to them.
Food guinea pigs should avoid eating
Here are some foods that are not toxic to our guinea pigs but are equally bad for them.
- Cat or Dog food
- Starchy foods like potatoes, parsnips, etc
- Dried fruits like raisins, etc
- Cooked food
Guinea pigs should avoid eating nuts. Nuts consists of a lot of fats. Fats are bad for guinea pigs.
Guinea pig’s digestive system is fragile and cannot digest food like nuts as they are high in salts and sugars.
Excessive sugar and salt can cause health problems for guinea pigs. Other than sugar, salt, and fats, nuts also contain calcium that can lead to kidney and urinary problems.
Also read: Can guinea pigs eat nuts?
Out of their regular diet, guinea pigs like to have treats sometimes. Serving them muesli as a treat is a bad idea.
Muesli does not any nutritional element in them that are beneficial for guinea pigs. Museli is high in sugar and so that it can lead to diseases like diarrhea, dental disease.
Muesli contributes to weight gain in guinea pigs. Excessive body weight can be dangerous and cause heart problems. Muesli is also responsible for Enteroteoxema in them.
Also read: Can guinea pigs eat dry cereal?
Cat or Dog food
If you have various types of pets in your house, you need to be aware that your pets can share meals.
Suppose you have dogs and guinea pigs as your pet, then there might be such situations that your guinea pigs steal dog’s food and eat them. They might find it fascinating but it is definitely not good for their health.
Your dog’s or cat’s food is not toxic to your guinea pigs, but the problem is that these foods are high in calories, which is terrible for them to consume.
These foods also contain amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which are pretty crucial for your dogs but can be harmful to our guinea pigs.
Along with that, these foods are high in calcium, as you know that guinea pigs cannot consume a high amount of calcium. So try to avoid your guinea pigs from eating other pet’s food.
Starchy foods like potatoes, parsnips, etc
Guinea pigs have a sensitive digestive system.
Foods like potatoes, parsnips contain starch in them that is hard for guinea pigs to digest.
Starch can also lead to heart diseases. It is also responsible for weight gain.
Starch also causes diabetes to guinea pigs. It helps raise sugar levels sharply and also makes them fall them suddenly that can be very dangerous for guinea pigs.
Dried fruits like raisins, etc
Guinea pigs cannot eat dried fruits as dried fruits are full of sugar and salt, and also it contains preservatives in them, which is quite bad for guinea pigs to consume.
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As you have already known from this article that guinea pigs have a weak digestive system. They can only digest fresh foods. You cannot serve them with cooked meals.
Cooked foods are full of salt, sugar, and oil, which are bad for guinea pig’s health system.
Guinea pigs feel uneasy if they eat cooked food and can have several health problems such as diarrhea and digestive issues.
What food can guinea pigs eat?
A well balanced diet for guinea pigs must include:
- Fruits and treats
Guinea pigs are herbivores means that they can only eat fresh foods. Hay consists of less amount of protein in them, but they are rich in fiber, which is exceptionally good for the digestive system of guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs like to chew hay as it helps their teeth short and maintain dental hygiene as well. Now let us have a look at the types of hay that guinea pigs can eat:
- Timothy Hay
- Meadow Hay
- Orchard Hay
Timothy hay is the most common and preferred hay for our guinea pigs. It contains right amount of nutrients needed by our guinea pigs.
Meadow and orchard hay can also be given to guinea pigs. People allergic to timothy hay prefer this hay as a replacement.
Also read: All about hay(Types, Serving & More)
Vegetables are an integral part of the guinea pig’s diet. They provide them much nutrition to stay fit and healthy.
Unlike other animals, guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own, so vegetables with vitamin C provide them with much-needed vitamin C.
They need to be served right amount of vegetables as it helps guinea pig’s body stay hydrated. But always before serving them with vegetables, remember some essential steps:
- Always serve fresh vegetables.
- Always wash them with water to remove all the dirt before serving them.
- Make sure you cut them in proper size so that guinea pigs do not face choking issues.
- Never overfeed them.
Now you may be thinking about what kind of vegetables you should serve your guinea pig. Let’s have a look into some of them:
- Bell Pepper
- Lettuce (Not ice-berg lettuce)
- Collard greens, etc.
Guinea pigs are familiar with hay and vegetables, but they can also eat pellets. But guinea pigs cannot live just by eating pellets.
Pellets need to serve in small quantities to our guinea pigs. Else it can lead to bladder stones.
Guinea pigs don’t need to eat a lot of pellets. The appropriate serving size for pellets to a normal guinea pig is ⅛ cup of pellets once a day.
If your guinea pig is underweight, then serve them little more to gain their body weight. Always remember to serve pellets with which are high in fiber(Timothy based).
Fruits are an integral part of a guinea pig’s diet. It gives guinea pigs refreshments along with nutrition.
Fruits keep them healthy and happy. They are rich in antioxidants, which are suitable for guinea pig’s health.
It also contain Vitamin C, which guinea pigs cannot generate on their own.
As you know that guinea pigs can eat fruits, but they cannot eat it regularly because some fruits are rich in sugar, which is terrible for guinea pig’s health.
Now let’s discuss some fruits which are rich in Vitamin C and can be served occasionally:
Also read: 70+types of fruits for your guinea pigs
To remain healthy and fit, we need to maintain a proper diet. But sometimes eating something different than the diet is not problematic.
As we all know that guinea pig’s regular diet should be filled with vegetables and hay but sometimes it is important to bring some change in their taste bud. Thus, adding a treat would be crucial.
You can serve a small treat occasionally to your guinea pigs as well. However, never make it a part of their regular diet as it can be terrible for their health.
Also read: Best treats for our guinea pigs
Food safety tips for guinea pig owners
Guinea pigs have a sensitive digestive system. When it comes to their food, they need proper care and observation, as any lousy food can lead to fatal health problems for guinea pigs.
So you need to be cautious and be aware of the adverse effects of the foods that you are serving to guinea pigs.
Let’s discuss the safety tips you need to aware of before feeding guinea pigs:
- Guinea pigs like to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. But there are some fruits and vegetables that can be extremely dangerous to their health system. In this article, we have already discussed the fruits and vegetables that guinea pigs can not eat.
- Guinea pigs like to forage and feed. In this procedure, they sometimes eat some plants that are bad for their health. For example, sweet alyssum, the crown of thorns, Shirley poppy, Ageratum, etc. these are the plant that is bad for guinea pigs. So always keep them away from these plants, especially if you leave them free in your yard.
- Never feed them foods that are high in calcium and sugar. Excessive calcium can lead to kidney problems, and sugar can cause diarrhea, bloating, and many digestive issues to guinea pigs.
- Always serve them foods in a small amount so that if they are facing any discomfort immediately remove them from the diet and also overfeeding can also cause many health problems to guinea pigs.
- Remember to clean the food with fresh water so that all the dirt and chemicals get removed before serving them to guinea pigs.
- Never give them cooked or frozen foods. Cooked meals can cause digestive problems, and frozen foods are difficult to chew, and ingest as they are hard.
- Always keep in mind to clean the living area and remove all the uneaten foods as they can attract flies and rats towards guinea pigs.
Always keep in mind the above steps before feeding them to keep your guinea pig healthy and fit,