The diet of the guinea pigs is not difficult to master – these adorable fluffy animals are herbivores and vegetarians. In fact, they eat not just herbs and roots, or veggies and fruits, but sometimes flowers too! However, there are some flowers which are bad for guinea pigs and some which are ok for consumption, but proper research is needed for any type of flower. Before we feed anything to the cavy, we must check if that is healthy for it or not. So let’s see all the info for flowers as food for guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs eat flowers? Guinea pigs can eat only certain types of flowers, but not all. For example, they can consume dandelion flowers or marigold, and they like their taste too. Also, they can eat bindweeds, red clover, regular clover, smooth sow thistle, campanula, milk thistle, hedge mustard, parsley, mimulas, petunias, vetch, pyramidal bugle, sweet violet – examples of flowers and wild plants safe for consumption. And the toxic flowers are chickweed, coltsfoot, goldenrod, green clover, groundsel, mallow, plantain, yarrow, asters, nasturtiums, sunflower (flower), and sweet peas flower.
It is also important to know which plants or flowers are toxic for the guinea pig, so that you know which ones to avoid. Truth be told, most of the houseplants or common flowers can upset the gastrointestinal system of the guinea pig and can even be toxic. Be careful with flowers because as we said, some of them can even be fatal. Cavies can freely eat dandelions and marigold, for example, so we will start with those as examples because those are most often grown and found in many places. The other group of flowers, the toxic ones, will be used as a reference for possible risks and side effects.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Flowers
There are certain benefits of eating flowers. For example, it’s allowed for guinea pigs to eat dandelions. In moderation, this flower is completely fine for the guinea pig.
The dandelion is a good laxative. Also, it can act as a diuretic which will improve the urination for the cavy. It is medicinal too because it removes pains in joints and muscles as well. It is said that this flower can even increase appetite in the cavies. This is good because the cavies would eat more, and that would make their immunity stronger.
With dandelion, the cavy will also get vitamin C, and this vitamin is extremely important for cavies. They cannot make it themselves, so they get as much as they can from foods. This vitamin prevents them to get scurvy, which swells their joints, loose stool and more.
Also, this flower contains proteins, carbs, vitamins A, K, and E too among other nutrients.
There’s no cholesterol too, and this is good for the blood vessels – they will stay unclogged for longer!
This was just one example for the flowers, every other has different benefits and risks.
Nutrition Facts of Flowers
If the ‘allowed’ flowers are consumed in moderation, there shouldn’t be any health issues with the cavy.
From the dandelion example, the edible parts are root, stem, leaves, greens, petals. And, you can frequently serve this to the guinea pigs, up to 4-5 days per week. The normal serving would be a small handful or a few flowers.
Now when it comes to marigold, the flower is the edible part. It is relatively safe and the cavies love the taste! Also, this flower is rich in fiber, and it will contribute to healthy digestion. Marigold also removes parasites and worms in the organism, so this is great news! Also, with this flower, there is less chance for allergies, and the liver health will be much better too.
Risks to Consider When Feeding Flowers to Guinea Pigs
One risk of cavies eating flowers is the location where flowers were picked. If you had them in your garden, then it is fine for the ‘allowed’ flowers. Otherwise, avoid areas where there is pollution, traffic, or where owners walk their dogs. In such places, there are high chances of contaminations, so the flowers there are never edible.
The second risk is calcium. Calcium can often be found in flowers, even in dandelion which is the ‘allowed’ flower food! So, the calcium is a mineral for healthy bones and strong bone tissue. But, for guinea pigs, this creates serious urinary problems. If excess calcium deposits in the bodies of cavies, there is a risk of kidney or bladder stones. If uncured, this can progress to renal failure.
Another risk is that too many flowers, even the dandelions, acts as a strong laxative. The cavies would have an upset stomach, loose stool or diarrhea, gas or flatulence and bloating.
The pigment in flowers can change the urine color, but don’t panic – this is not even a risk.
The scariest thing that could happen is poisoning or toxicity. If the cavy eats a flower that is toxic and poisonous, it is a situation of life or death. For example, at first, there will be nausea and salivation. The cavy would appear to be drooling heavily, so watch out for this!
Also, skin rash, which is a tricky thing because the guinea pig has fur – however, monitor his feet and mouth, or any section that has skin not covered with fur.
Then, the breathing may become heavier and heavier by the minute or second, and this is accompanied by a very fast pulse. So, if the guinea pig has been around flowers and you are not sure what it ate, pick the guinea pig up, hold it in your arms. If you notice any changes in the pulse and if the whole body is trembling, your pet has probably been poisoned.
There is also a possibility of diarrhea too, so monitor the feces or bowel movements closely.
The worst thing is that cavies cannot throw up and this makes it hard for them to remove unwanted foods or toxins!
Overall, watch out for salivation, bowel movements, pulse, rash, fast breathing. If any of these symptoms appear, immediately go to the veterinarian. And also, it is a great idea to have some emergency meds at home for cases like this. Consult with your vet in general which meds are good to purchase if urgent help is needed in seconds.
Quick Facts on Flowers
- Some flowers are toxic and some are alright as food for cavies
- The benefits of edible flowers: good digestion, more appetite, pain relief, nutrients
- The risks of non-edible flowers: diarrhea, calcium deposits, change in urine color, poisoning
- For poisoning: have first-aid meds (the vet will recommend them) and rush to the vet at the same time!
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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