When you think of breakfast foods, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Of course, cereals or oats! Oats are proven to be extremely healthy for humans, but is this true for guinea pigs?
Can guinea pigs eat oats? Guinea pigs cannot eat oats. The oats contain a lot of phosphorus, a mineral that damages their urinary system. Oats are also high in carbohydrates, which can cause rapid weight gain.
This article will identify if oats are beneficial to guinea pigs, health benefits they can get in a particular situation, nutrition facts, and risks to consider in feeding guinea pigs with oats.
Are Oats Good for Guinea Pigs? | Health Benefits
Oats are not good for a full-grown and healthy guinea pig. It contains a large amount of phosphorus that may be harmful to adult guinea pigs.
However, it is beneficial to young guinea pigs and those with specific health problems.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Quaker Oats?
Guinea pigs can’t eat Quaker Oats. This is still oats, regardless of its brand. It can negatively affect your cavy, as it is not beneficial to a healthy guinea pig.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Quaker Oats?
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oatmeal?
Your healthy pet cavy should not eat oatmeal. If your guinea pig is severely underweight or lacks appetite, a vet may offer oatmeal. Otherwise, it is not a healthy addition to cavy’s diet.
Below are some health benefits that a guinea pig can get in particular conditions:
Healthy Weight (For Underweight Guinea Pigs)
- Oats are very beneficial for skinny guinea pigs or those with no appetite. Also, sometimes guinea pigs can suffer from diseases that can reduce their appetite and weight (cancer is one of them). In this case, oats are recommended with specific diet directions by the veterinarian.
Thicker Coat (For Guinea Pigs That Suffer From Hair Loss and Skin Issues)
- Many owners claim through veterinarian’s advice; they gave oats to their guinea pigs for skin issues and hair loss problems. It made the coat of the cavy shinier and thicker and the skin beneath the bald spots much softer too.
When using it, just a few sprinkles of oats over the pellets is enough. Two times per week is the normal frequency.
This can help if your guinea pig loses hair or if it has dry skin under the fur. Also, if the guinea pig is underweight severely, your vet will probably recommend this same usage of oats as well – they are very caloric and high in carbs so that the weight will be increased rapidly.
Nutrition Facts of Oats
Nutritional information for 100 g (3 oz) of oats:
- Highly caloric – 389 calories. This is a lot for humans, too (but enough for people who workout). You cannot just imagine how much this is for a guinea pig, a highly caloric food even in a small serving.
- High in carbs and proteins – Similar to the calories mentioned above, oats are very rich in proteins, especially carbs. There are 66.3 g of carbs and 16.9 g of proteins. This is a great nutritional boost for the start of a day for a human. But for a guinea pig, this is only needed when the cavy suffers from underweight issues or hair loss only!
- High in fibers – 10.6g. Oats are quite fibrous, which is amazing for good digestion. But for a guinea pig, too many fibers can cause bad digestion or loose stool.
- A moderate amount of fat – 6.9 g. This is not too much fat so that the cardiovascular system will be in good health.
- Thiamin – 51%. This is also known as B1 vitamin. This vitamin turns carbs into energy. This is crucial for oats since they are rich in carbs. Also, this vitamin keeps the heart healthy, the nerves, and the muscles.
- Vitamin B6 – 6%. This vitamin makes more serotonin, a hormone for happiness. Also, it helps with sleeping and reducing anxiety too.
- Calcium – 54 mg. This is a lot of calcium and that is not healthy for the guinea pig. The calcium is needed for small cavies that are still growing and developing. But, for grown guinea pigs it causes urinary problems.
- Iron – 26%. This compound prevents anemia and keeps blood in good health.
- Magnesium – 44%. Magnesium is a mineral that reduces and removes aches all over the body, especially in the muscles as well as the heart muscle. So, it keeps the heart healthy as well!
- Phosphorus – 52%. This is almost the same as calcium because they both work together to form strong bones. But, it has the same bad effects on the guinea pig as calcium does.
- Zinc – 26%. This nutrient strengthens the immune system and all metabolic functions too. It also helps with faster wound healing.
- Manganese – 246%. This compound is a very strong antioxidant and reduces the risk of diseases caused by free radical damage.
- No cholesterol – This is healthy for the cardiovascular system, but oats are still not so beneficial for the guinea pigs considering how the risks outweigh the benefits.
Risks to Consider When Feeding Oats to Guinea Pigs
- Risk of an unhealthy weight (obesity risk, calories, carbs) – It is mentioned that oats are very caloric and very rich in carbs. Calories and carbs are the main factors that cause obesity or weight gain.
If your guinea pig has normal weight, it is obvious why oats are not good food for them – they will become chubby, and this is not just an aesthetic problem. It will affect the heart and the whole metabolism overall.
- Urinary problems – Oats contain calcium and phosphorus. These nutrients might be good for bones, but they are good for the guinea pigs only when they are young and still growing.
If the guinea pig is already fully-grown, these compounds can cause risks of bladder and kidney stones, pain in urination, blood in urine, and frequent urinary infections too. Also, if untreated, it will lead to death caused by renal failure!
- Bad digestion – Oats are very fibrous too. Normal amounts of fiber are good for bowel movements and fast digestion. But excess fibers or large amounts of consumption will make the cavy’s tummy hurt, or they might cause loose stool and painful digestion.
Quick Facts on Oats
- Oats are considered mostly as food for livestock animals, but 5% of oats worldwide are used as breakfast food.
- The national Oatmeal Day is 29th of October.
- There is also an Oatmeal Month – January.
- Oats are mostly used for oat cookies and oatmeal breakfasts, and lastly for meatloaf too!
- The ancient Greeks were the first to make oatmeal porridge out of oats.
- Oats originate from western Europe, and there they were grown as a type of weed.
- President George Washington had many acres of oats on his farm at Mount Vernon.
With food, you should be careful what to choose. If you are not sure what to feed them but believe your little piggies deserve some great treats, check our Helpful Guide to the Best Guinea Pig Treats to get some ideas.
List of Sources
Nutritional Advantages of Oats and Opportunities for Its Processing as Value Added Foods – A Review