Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheerios?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheerios

It’s feeding time for guinea pigs! There is definitely nothing cuter and more adorable than feeding a cavy. The cavy makes cute sounds and also, very adorable munching and chewing sounds when they eat. So, can the cavy eat breakfast food for humans? We all know breakfast is maybe the tastiest meal of the day. But, can our beloved cavy eat it too? Let’s see.

Can guinea pigs eat Cheerios? The short answer is no. the long answer is: cavies technically can eat cheerios, and they like them, but this type of food is not recommended or the health of the guinea pigs. The Cheerios are technically breakfast cereals made of whole grain oats and they are flavored in many ways – so there is sugar in them too. This type of sugary carb is definitely not good for the cavy. Even if the cavy likes to eat Cheerios (or other cereals), it must be given to them extremely rare as a treat, or not at all if possible.

Just because us humans love a nice carb-sugary-dairy breakfast, it doesn’t mean our cavy should have the same breakfast as us. In fact, many people advise against cereals for breakfast – so how could this be good for our pets if it’s not good for humans? The Cheerios are super-tasty, crunchy, sweet and they go great with milk! Of course! And they come in amazing flavors. For example: honey, apple cinnamon, chocolate, banana and nuts, dark chocolate, peanut butter, frosted, multi-grains, and fruity! Yummy! But, sadly, these awesome cereals are not so awesome for your guinea pig. They may have some benefits, but they surely have more side-effects. Let’s explore this in detail.

Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Cheerios

The good thing about Cheerios cereals is that they do have minerals and vitamins. Even though this is not a fruit or veggie, still there are nutrients that pair well (with milk mostly). Anyway, it has some good calories…and good taste!

Also, there is no fat in the Cheerios! This is good because too much fat can clog blood vessels or add unwanted weight. They also contain fiber as well. Fiber is essential for good digestion. Luckily, these cereals are filled with fiber – but this is why they must be eaten in moderation.

Another great thing about Cheerios is that they are gluten-free. Gluten, especially in excess, causes really bad health problems. Usual symptoms of gluten intolerance are stomach pains, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, flatulence and similar. So, cheerios won’t cause these issues in guinea pigs.

There is also vitamin C in Cheerios! Yes, the crucial vitamin all cavies absolutely must have. The cavies sadly cannot make this vitamin naturally. They cannot make it in their bodies, and also when they get it – they cannot store it as a reserve. So, foods that have vitamin C are really good. Don’t let this fool you – cheerios have other things that cavies must not eat, but cheerios also have vitamin C which is the crucial and essential life-saver vitamin. If your cavy has a deficit of vitamin C, it will get scurvy. This can be dangerous and it manifests with a rough coat, skipping, painful and swollen joints and limbs, discharge from the nose and eyes, fatigue, and even some internal bleedings!

Another good thing about cheerios, is that the plain type has very little sugar. This would be the most acceptable of all forbidden treats maybe – a lesser evil!

Less sugar is always good, right?

These cereals also have iron and iron makes their blood healthy. Finally, cheerios are GMO-free. There is no need to say, but, GMO is not healthy for anyone. Everything that is modified or unnatural is, of course, unhealthy – regardless of animals or humans.

Nutrition Facts of Cheerios

We are all told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is true. However, are cereals the best choice for breakfast? We won’t discuss that here, but we will definitely go deeper into the nutritive values of the cereals Cheerios. Because you must know all about cheerios if you are giving it as a treat for your beloved cavy.

For a serving of 1 oz (30 g), there is:

  • Total of 100 calories (compared to other foods, this is highly caloric)
  • 3% fat (normal amount of fat per product, for a normal energy release)
  • 0 mg cholesterol (this is great because cholesterol in excess damages blood vessels)
  • 140 mg sodium (this amount of salt is high and might create water retention)
  • 180 mg potassium (for prevention of stroke, hypertension, for a good metabolism, strong muscles)
  • 20 g carbs (for fast release of energy and instant energy)
  • 3 g fiber (for good and healthy digestion)
  • 3 g protein (for slow release of energy all day long)
  • 10% vitamin A (a strong antioxidant that removes inflammation, keeps brain, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs healthy)
  • 10% vitamin C (the crucial vitamin for the health of the guinea pigs)
  • 10% calcium (beneficial for strong bones, but for cavies, this is a mineral that is harmful to them in excess and can cause urinary problems)
  • 45% iron (good amount of iron for healthy blood)
  • 10% vitamin D (for normal growth of bones and teeth, strong bone tissues)
  • 50% folate (for healthy DNA – this is especially important for pregnant cavies and the development of the fetus)
  • 25% vitamin B12 (for creating red blood cells and preventing anemia, good focus, energy, mood, mental balance as well as overall immunity)
  • 10% phosphorus (also harmful for cavies because it creates urinary problems)
  • 8% magnesium (for healthy bones, healthy heart and muscles, prevention of aches and pains)
  • 25% zinc (for strong immunity, faster healing of wounds, good metabolism of cells)

The more sugary and flavored the cereal – the less you should give to the cavy (and less often too). So, in general, just a few cheerios, once a week – not more!

Risks to Consider When Feeding Cheerios to Guinea Pigs

One of the risks of cheerios is that they have calcium and phosphorus. The calcium works together with the phosphorus – or the phosphorus binds together with calcium. These two minerals create strong and healthy bones and bone tissues. But, for rodents like cavies, excess calcium is a bad thing. The residue of this mineral gets stuck somewhere in the urinary system and it can create bladder or kidney stones. This can be fatal because often it leads to renal failure – there is no going back from that! Otherwise, with bladder and kidney stones the urination is painful, there is pain in the stomach, or even blood in the urine.

We mentioned cheerios have fibers that are good for digestion. But, sometimes too much fibers can have a counter-effect. With excess fibers, even humans notice some side effects. For example, the cavy ingested too much fibers if there is pain in the stomach, loose stool, flatulence and gasses, bloating and similar.

Also, the level of sodium (salt) is a bit high. It is not scary, but it can make the cavy more thirsty or bloated. It’s common to see bloating and thirst or water retention too, if too much salt is consumed.

Quick Facts on Cheerios and Guinea Pigs

  • Cavies like to eat cereals, but technically they shouldn’t
  • The cereals are always sugary or with additives (no matter how healthy they are), even cheerios are like that
  • The cereals cheerios are a treat – not real food for cavies
  • Normal serving would be just a few cheerios (so the cavy can taste it, not eat it as a meal)
  • Cheerios (especially the plain type) have minerals, vitamins and good carbs
  • Also, these cereals have no fat
  • There is no GMO or gluten in cheerios
  • There is vitamin C in cheerios
  • There is iron in cheerios (good for blood)
  • Cheerios have calcium and phosphorus (bad for the urinary system of cavies)
  • Also, the healthy fibers in cheerios might be too much for the cavy (too much fibers upset the stomach and digestion)
  • There is a high level of salt in these cereals (pay attention to the serving)

Before I let you go, one final thought on food. With food, you can’t ever be too careful which is why I get all guinea pig food from a reliable source such as Amazon. If you are not sure what to order but believe your little piggies deserve some great treats please check our Helpful Guide to the Best Guinea Pig Treats to get some ideas. We have also made a full list of foods that guinea pigs can and can’t eat (150+ Types of Foods). Be sure to also check our recommended products page for everything you will ever need to assure a happy life for your Guinea Pigs. Hope this information was helpful and you have found the answer you were looking for.

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Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.