Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheese? (Risks, Facts & More)

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheese (Risks, Facts & More)

Is there anything tastier than cheese? Well, of course, we all like eating cheese because we can use it in many different recipes. When in a rush, some grilled cheese sandwich always does the trick. We can also enjoy some breaded cheese, mac and cheese, toasts, pastries, and more cheesy foods. You might get tempted to toss a small slice of cheese to the guinea pig, but should you? There is no denying that cheese is everyone’s favorite, but we must always check if this is healthy for the guinea pigs.

Can guinea pigs eat cheese? No, guinea pigs cannot eat cheese, their digestive tract is not designed to digest dairy products. Guinea pigs lack a special enzyme that is needed for digesting dairy products. In other words, the guinea pigs are lactose intolerant. So, as a result of eating dairy products, they could get severe stomach problems or digestion problems among other things.

Guinea pigs can only digest plants, veggies, and fruits, some herbs, etc because they are vegetarians and herbivores.

Too bad that your cavy cannot try the delicious cheese. You know that people who are lactose intolerant – if they have coffee with milk or something else that’s dairy, will cramp them up immediately. Well, imagine that happening to your lovely, small guinea pig!

In the following sections below we will discuss in detail the risks of feeding your guinea pig any type of cheese.

Main Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Cheese

Unfortunately, the guinea pigs cannot consume cheese or anything dairy for that matter. The dairy products will cause them tremendous health problems. We mentioned how the guinea pigs are lactose intolerant, and this means dairy things are never, ever an option!

There are no great benefits from cheese for the cavy, just a few minerals, and vitamins that are otherwise found in the fresh produce as well. The cheese will only damage the health of guinea pigs since it contains a lot of salt, fat, and calcium – all harmful.

Nutrition Facts of Cheese

These are the nutrition facts for cheddar cheese, 100 g (3 oz):

  • High in calories – 403
  • Carbs – 1.3g
  • Protein – 24.9g
  • Zero fiber
  • Sugars – 0.5g
  • Fat – 33.1g
  • Vitamin A – 20%
  • Zero vitamin C
  • Vitamin D – 3%
  • Thiamin – 2%
  • Vitamin E – 1%
  • Vitamin K – 3%
  • Riboflavin – 22%
  • Vitamin B6 – 4%
  • Vitamin B12 – 14%
  • Pantothenic acid – 4%
  • Calcium – 72%
  • Iron – 4%
  • Phosphorus – 51%
  • Sodium – 26%
  • Selenium – 20%
  • Manganese – 1%
  • Cholesterol – 105mg

Source: Creating Health and Nutrition: Selecting Cheese for Health

Risks to Consider When Feeding Cheese to Guinea Pigs

  • Cardiovascular problems – the cheese has a lot of cholesterol, sodium, and fats. All of these things are bad for the cardiovascular system, especially when consumed in excess. The cholesterol can build up in the arteries and this causes problems with the blood flow in the whole organism. The sodium creates water retention and raises blood pressure. And, excess fat contributes to the same bad effects on the circulatory system and heart work; clogged arteries and pressure problems.


  • Urinary problems – there is a lot of calcium and phosphorus in cheese. We all heard someone say to us that in order to have strong bones, we must consume dairy. Well, calcium and phosphorus are the minerals for strong bones, but they are harmful to the grown cavies. Excess of these minerals makes bladder and kidney stones in guinea pigs, also painful urinating, bloody urine, and infections in the urinary tract. The worst case scenario is the fatal one – renal failure when kidneys don’t function anymore.


  • No scurvy prevention – the bad thing about cheese is that it has no vitamin C at all. And guinea pigs need this vitamin for survival, literally. Without it, they get the scurvy disease which can be fatal (symptoms are: no appetite, weight loss, rough coat, discharge, bleeding, diarrhea..) So if the cheese has more harm than good for the guinea pigs, and lacks vitamin C, then what? Simply cheese is not good food for the cavy!


  • Bad digestion – if the guinea pig eats cheese, the digestion afterward will be awful! Cheese has no fibers, and this means more painful digestion and even constipation. Also, cavies lack the enzymes for digesting dairy products, so there might be constipation, and then diarrhea too. Sounds bad right? Well, it can get worse, because cheese also has some amount of sugar. Cavies don’t digest sugar well, so this will only increase the cramps and digestion problems.

It goes without saying, but there will not be any advice for serving and preparing the cheese for the guinea pig.

  • Which type of cheese should be avoided more for guinea pigs: yellow or white cheese?

Every type of cheese! Yellow, or white, or whatever kind existing out there, is really bad for the guinea pig. Just remember that dairy is awful for your cavy, and all cheese types are dairy of course.

Source: Study sheds light on dairy fat and cardiovascular disease risk

Fun Facts on Cheese

  • The cheese was created by pure accident 4000 years ago. Milk was stored in a special container and this was lined with the stomach of an animal. The stomach enzyme made the milk separate into solids and liquids. The solids (curd) is cheese.
  • For 1 pound of cheese, you need 10 pounds of milk.
  • In the USA, more than 25% of cheese is made in Wisconsin.
  • Certain types of cheese are illegal in the USA due to concerns with bacteria. Such cheeses are those that are aged less than 60 days.
  • The popular belief is that mice like cheese. But, this is wrong. Mice prefer sugars and carbs.
  • The cheddar cheese is not naturally orange in color.
  • Cheese is the most stolen food item worldwide!
  • President Andrew Jackson once ordered a large block of cheddar cheese to his white house. It was 2 feet thick, 4 feet diameter, and almost 1400 pounds!
  • There is a law in Wisconsin that says with every meal in restaurants, there has to be cheese on the side too.
  • There exist more than 2000 varieties of cheese worldwide.
  • Queen Victoria (1819-1901) received an awesome wedding gift; cheddar cheese of over 1000 pounds.
  • The heaviest cheese in the world produced was 57,518 pounds.

Source: Cheese – Colorado State University

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.