When you think of breakfast foods, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Of course, cereals or oats! Today, we will discuss if our guinea pigs can eat oats. Oats are proven to be extremely healthy for us humans, so let’s check if this is true for the guinea pigs as well.
Can guinea pigs eat oats? No, guinea pigs cannot eat oats. The oats contain a lot of phosphorus which is a mineral that damages their urinary systems. Not just this, but oats are also high in carbs among other nutrients, and can cause rapid weight gain – this is “good” but only if your guinea pig is extremely underweight, so some vets advise feeding oats to guinea pigs in such rare cases. However, oats (or oatmeal) are not good food for a normal and healthy guinea pig.
It seems that the healthiest breakfast food for humans is not so good for the guinea pigs. It is acceptable only if you have a severely underweight guinea pig or when the cavy has cancer and doesn’t have much of an appetite.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Oats
If the oats are mixed with the pellets or sprinkled in moderate amounts through the pellets, these are some of the health benefits but this is only for guinea pigs with the problems mentioned below:
- Healthy weight (for underweight guinea pigs) – For skinny guinea pigs or for those with no appetite, oats are very beneficial. Also, sometimes guinea pigs can suffer from diseases that can reduce their appetite and weight (cancer is one of them), and in this case, oats are recommended with specific diet directions by the vet.
- Thicker coat (for guinea pigs that suffer from hair loss and skin issues) – Many owners claim that by vet’s advice, they gave oats to their guinea pigs for skin issues along with hairloss problems. It made the coat of the cavy shinier and thicker, and the skin beneath the bald spots much softer too.
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 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 a human too (but we exercise and we need these calories), and just imagine how much this is for a guinea pig, even in a small serving – a highly caloric food.
- High in carbs and in proteins – Similar to the calories mentioned above, the oats are very rich with carbs especially, and proteins too. There is 66.3 g of carbs and 16.9 g of protein. For a human, this is a great nutritional boost for the start of a day, 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 much fibers can cause bad digestion or loose stool.
- A moderate amount of fat – 6.9 g. This is not too much fat, so the cardiovascular system will be in good health.
- Thiamin – 51%. This is known also as B1 vitamin. This vitamin turns the carbs into energy. This is crucial for oats since they are rich in carbs. Also, this vitamin keeps the heart healthy, as well as the nerves and 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 is preventing anemia and keeping blood in good health.
- Magnesium – 44%. The 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 radicals 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) – We 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 cause risks of bladder and kidney stones, pain in urination, blood in urine, and frequent urinary infections too. If untreated, it leads to death from 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 in large amounts, 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 a 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 the 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
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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