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

Here is a fact most of us can agree with – ham is amazing! Ham goes well with everything. This food item is perfect for those moments when we feel lazy to cook, so we choose to make a sandwich, a wrap, toast or something similar. Ham is the meat of an animal that is preserved in special ways like dry or wet curing, with or without smoking it. This is processed meat, so it is quite salty and often very caloric. The dilemma now is whether our guinea pigs can eat processed meats like ham?

Can guinea pigs eat ham? No, guinea pigs cannot eat ham. In general, they cannot eat any type of processed food or meats. Guinea pigs are herbivores and vegetarians, so they can only consume veggies, fruits, certain herbs and roots. Ham and similar processed meats are not good for the guinea pigs, and they can cause various health problems.

The health of your guinea pigs is more important than letting him try every food and feeling ill afterward. There are plenty of tasty foods that your guinea pig can safely eat, so why risk its health with caloric, fatty, cured meat? No need for this. Still, we can cover the details for ham in the sections below, just for informational purposes.

Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Ham?

Unfortunately, the guinea pigs cannot eat ham. This is not such a bad thing after all. Of course, maybe the cavies won’t enjoy this cured meat, but they don’t need it so much anyway. The guinea pigs are perfectly fine without meats and processed foods, and that is why they consume only fresh produce and some herbs or roots. Their health is under a great risk with processed foods and they can get the same benefits from foods that are safe for them.

The same nutrients in ham that offer energy, vitamins, and minerals, can be found in the foods your cavy can eat, so don’t risk it! Instead of ham or cured meats, you can always give your cavy some of his favorite veggies and fruits that also have proteins, vitamins, and other beneficial nutrients.

Nutrition Facts of Ham

Here are the nutrition facts for 100 g (3 oz) of ham:

  • High in calories – 145
  • Carbs – 1.5 g
  • Protein – 21 g
  • Fat – 6 g
  • Vitamin E – 1%
  • Thiamin – 22%
  • Riboflavin – 16%
  • Niacin – 28%
  • Vitamin B6 – 20%
  • Vitamin B12 – 6%
  • Pantothenic acid – 7%
  • Calcium – 1%
  • Iron – 4%
  • Magnesium – 5%
  • Phosphorus – 29%
  • Potassium – 287 mg
  • Sodium – 1.203 mg
  • Zinc – 12%
  • Copper – 24%
  • Manganese – 1%
  • Selenium – 45%
  • Cholesterol – 53mg

Risks to Consider When Feeding Ham to Guinea Pigs

  • Urinary complications – the ham contains calcium and phosphorus in quite large amounts. This is definitely bad for the guinea pigs and will cause serious problems in the urinary tract. The calcium and phosphorus create the bone tissues, but this is only beneficial for young cavies that still need to grow and develop. When the guinea pig is already fully grown, these minerals pile up in the urinary tract. When this happens, there is a risk of bladder and kidney stones, painful urinating, bloody urine, or urinary infections. And, if this is not cured in time, there is the risk of fatal renal failure.


  • Cardiovascular problems – ham has a lot of cholesterol too, as you can see in the nutrition section. Why is this bad? Well, when cholesterol builds up in the arteries, it creates a blockage for the blood circulation. This, of course, doesn’t stop there, and it will affect the blood pressure, the water retention in the body, and the heart will not work properly when the blood flow is obstructed.


  • Upset stomach and digestive system – there is a reason why guinea pigs cannot consume the ‘delicious’ processed foods, such as ham and cured meats. These foods have a lot of fats and salt too, and this doesn’t digest well in the stomachs of guinea pigs. If they eat such foods, they will get cramps, indigestion, flatulence, and probably even diarrhea with cramps. Yes, this is what happens when guinea pigs consume foods that are not meant for their fragile digestive systems.

We have to say it again here – guinea pigs cannot eat ham. There is no proper serving size for this of course. In general, everything the guinea pigs eat is given in certain serving sizes, such as a few pieces, or a handful, and similar. But, for ham, this doesn’t apply.

  • If the guinea pig cannot eat ham, can it at least eat organic meat cooked without salt and oils?

No! Animal products of any kind, such as meat, is definitely not good for the guinea pig. Try to give him only proteins that are plant-based, because the guinea pigs are vegetarians and herbivores. Meats of any kind will only make problems for the digestive system of the cavy.

  • My guinea pig ate some ham while I wasn’t looking! What will happen?

No need to panic, the guinea pig will most likely be fine. Try to give him some lettuce and water to kind of ‘wash down’ anything digested so far. The guinea pig will be fine, with some mild cramps possibly. If he has craps or stops being active take him to the vet!

Fun Facts on Ham

  • Ham is mostly made of pork meat, any meat part of the pig.
  • When the ham is dry-cured, it is rubbed with lots of salt, but when it’s wet-cured, it is made with the liquid brine (water with more than 5% salt inside, used for food preservation)
  • The National Ham Day is April 15h
  • The first canned ham was sold in 1926, by the Hormel Company, in Austin, Minnesota
  • The Mainz ham is a German type of ham with brine, and also it is soaked in wine or brandy, and then smoked
  • ‘Country ham’ is quite dry, with a sharp flavor (because it has lots of salt!)
  • The artist Dwight Kalb once made a statue of Madonna, fully made of 180 lbs ham!
  • The most bought ham types in the world are Mainz, York, Smithfield, prosciutto, Parma, Westphalian, Virginia, Bayonne, Dijon, Serrano, and others…
  • Some people prefer the ham that is made from the left leg of the pig. Why? Well, apparently the pigs scratch themselves with the right leg, and this means the right leg has more active muscles, which makes the meat tougher there!
  • According to the ‘Larousse Gastronomique’, the encyclopedia for gastronomy, the French people invented the smoking and salting of pork meat for making a ham.
  • If you are in Australia and you eat ham that has a bone, it means you eat organic meat, i.e. domestic pig. The frozen meats that are imported to Australia can never travel with a bone!

Source: Facts About Ham – University of Florida

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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