Since chewing is pretty much a guinea pig’s favourite pastime, you’d think these little guys would be able to eat their way through anything, and while there’s a lot on the menu that they can eat, there are a few dishes that should be completely avoided.
If you’re ever in doubt, it’s a good idea to think about whether the food is in the guinea pig’s natural habitat and is it something they’d be able to just find? For example, guinea pigs are more likely to eat leafy greens and grass rather than buried bulb vegetables, seeds and dairy.
Since we understand that it’s not always clear cut, if you remember to avoid these eight foods, then your little cavvi should be happy and healthy. So, let’s find out which ones have got themselves onto the bad list.
The frightful Eight
Yoghurt or milk drops have been known to be given to guinea pigs as a treat, but they don’t have the enzymes to break down lactose, and so it’s actually quite harmful to them. If you’re looking for an ideal little treat to mix up their routine, instead, give your little buddy carrots as an occasional treat.
2. Cereal, Seeds, Oats etc
It’s advised not to give guinea pigs cereal because they often contain sugar in them, and even if they don’t, seeds and grains are generally not good for guinea pigs simply because it leads to weight gain and dental difficulties; there’s also a risk that piggies can choke on larger seeds. While oats are healthy for humans, they’re not too great for our little friends since they contain a lot of phosphorus that can damage their urinary systems. Oats are also full of carbohydrates which isn’t ideal for little piggies.
We imagine you’ve already heard of the infamous nightshade family, which for your wee piggy is as scary as the Addams family. Nightshades include potatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, goji berries and blueberries. The difference between regular nightshades and vegetables is that nightshades have solanine in them, which is poisonous to guinea pigs and can cause fits, seizures and heart failure – pretty serious stuff, we know, it’s why this family truly is critical for guineapigs to avoid.
Various other vegetables are harmful to guinea pigs, including avocados, which are not ideal because of the fat content alone. Still, they also contain persin, which is harmful to a lot of pets and can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and shortness of breath.
5. Bulb Vegetables
Bulb vegetables, including onions, leeks, chives and garlic, are also incredibly toxic to guinea pigs since it’s difficult for them to digest, and it contains thiosulfate, which can damage red blood cells affect their breathing.
6. Iceberg Lettuce
Surprising – we know, but iceberg lettuce isn’t all that great for guinea pigs since it’s high in water (making them bloat), high in calcium which is bad for piggies since it can lead to kidney stones and is low in vitamin C, which is a vital component in a healthy guinea pig diet. You can still feed your guinea pig small amounts of lettuce, but in our opinion, romaine lettuce is better as a treat because it has less calcium and more vitamin C, making it a much healthier option.
The majority of beans are incredibly gassy and so can cause discomfort for your piggies. If you’re looking to switch up your piggies diet, consider green beans as a treat now and again. Green beans contain do contain calcium, which isn’t good for piggies in large amounts, but they are rich in vitamin C, so giving green beans as an occasional treat will be fine.
Rhubarb has many toxins in it; it’s high in calcium, contains phosphorus, and is high in oxalic acid, which reduces mineral absorption and can lead to kidney stones. For this reason, it’s really not a good idea to feed your guinea pig rhubarb.
So what can my guinea pig eat?
Think of things that a guinea pig would find naturally; this includes greens like grass, kale, asparagus, broccoli, and spinach. Vegetables like romaine lettuce and carrots are good for treats but not in larger amounts.
In regards to fruits, mango and strawberries are good options, and blueberries are a great source of antioxidants and vitamins, but they are very high in sugar and so should only be given as an occasional treat, and no more than two should be given at a time.
Since guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C, it’s important to look for greens high in vitamin C. Be sure to check for any harmful enzymes or minerals like calcium that, when taken in high amounts, can be harmful to your guinea pig.
Good quality hay should make up the majority of their diet as well as food pellets from a trusted brand; check out our round-up of the best shop-bought guinea pig food.