Spinach is a nutritious vegetable that goes well with most meals and salads. It is eaten by many people around the world and has a crunchy but tasty feeling.
But what about our guinea pigs? Can they eat this amazing vegetable? In this article, we are going to cover everything related to spinach and guinea pigs.
So, can guinea pigs eat spinach? Guinea pigs can eat spinach. This vegetable is packed with several nutrients that are ideal for your guinea pig (vitamin C, A, iron, magnesium, and more) but due to the high amounts of oxalates (oxalic acid) and calcium that can cause kidney stones, spinach must be given in limited amounts.
Spinach is even considered to be a superfood but sadly it is not really a good choice as an everyday food for our guinea pigs. One small leaf two times a week is safe for guinea pigs.
You should, however, know that guinea pigs cannot eat cooked spinach as humans do and it needs to be given to guinea pigs as fresh and raw. Again, cooking the spinach only voids it of the essential nutrients including the most important vitamin C for guinea pigs which is present in spinach.
Now, we know that guinea pigs can eat spinach but we advise you to keep reading if you want to find out important health benefits or detailed risks that spinach can have when implemented in the guinea pig’s diet. Let’s begin!
Is Spinach Good for Guinea Pigs? Health Benefits
Yes, the spinach is good for guinea pigs and the following are some of the most relevant health benefits spinach can offer to guinea pigs:
• It Is Ideal for Eye Health
The compounds found in spinach are appropriate for a good vision and sight. These compounds include zeaxanthin and lutein which are carotenoids that are responsible for the color of some veggies. These compounds help protect the eye from damage that occurs from too much light.
Also, these two compounds help with getting rid of eye-related complications such as macular degeneration and cataracts that often can destroy vision.
• Helps in the Elimination of Free Radicals
Metabolic processes in guinea pigs create free radicals. These radicals are harmful when they are present in large portions as they can cause cell damage and other complications.
They also lead to conditions such as oxidative stress that can increase the chances of aging in your guinea pig. Diabetes also becomes a risk factor with oxidative stress in the picture. Spinach with its nutrients can help with the elimination of free radicals.
• Spinach Helps in Digestion
Digestion is a process that guinea pigs often have difficulties with because their digestive systems are not that strong. Therefore, they need help from their diet in order to have a smooth digestive process.
Dietary fiber is one nutrient found in spinach that has tremendous benefits when it comes to digestion. It also helps with the extraction of nutrients from foods.
• Constipation and Other Stomach Related Complications
Spinach aids in relieving constipation and other stomach related complications. This is due to the presence of dietary fiber in spinach. It helps to ease constipation by improving bowel movement.
Spinach also helps to alleviate stomach related issues that can cause discomfort to your guinea pig.
• It Can Aid in Weight Control
Dietary fiber can help with weight loss — how is this possible? Well, fiber is a filler nutrient that when taken into the body, increases the levels of satiety or “fullness”. When the guinea pig is full, it will stop consuming food and the overall number of calories taken into the body will drop.
This influences weight control and can be used as an appropriate weight loss plan.
• Reduction of Blood Pressure
• May Aid in Cardiovascular Health
As stated above, when the blood pressure is reduced, the heart will probably be in a healthy state. Besides, nitrates also play a crucial role in ensuring that the heart is protected from diseases and infections.
• Boosts the Immune System
Vitamin C is a critical nutrient in the general health cycle of guinea pigs. These pets don’t have strong immunity and they depend on foods rich in vitamin C to boost their immune system. Spinach is packed with vitamin C.
Besides, vitamin C enhances the white blood cells of the body thus making the guinea pig resistant to diseases and infections.
• Strong Bones and Teeth
Spinach helps with the development of strong bones and teeth. Due to the presence of vitamin K and other positive nutrients such as calcium, spinach is an ideal choice for developing your guinea pig’s bones and teeth.
Nutrition Facts of Spinach
Spinach is a potent nutrient green, especially for guinea pigs. It is packed with several nutrients vital for the well-being of guinea pigs as seen below:
Risks to Consider When Feeding Spinach to Guinea Pigs
As much as spinach is healthy for the guinea pig, it equally poses some health concerns to guinea pigs. The following are some of those risks:
- Kidney stones – these stones that appear in the kidneys are created by acid and minerals that build up in the system. The common mineral that often appears is calcium oxalate. This can be fatal for our guinea pigs.
- Blood clotting – vitamin K, which is abundant in spinach, helps in blood clotting but too much of it can be harmful to your guinea pig.
How Much Spinach Can Guinea Pigs Eat (Serving Size and Frequency)
Like we previously said, spinach must be given in moderate amounts to our guinea pigs if you want to avoid any health problems.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spinach Daily?
No guinea pigs can’t eat spinach daily. Even though spinach has many benefits it is just too dangerous to give it to guinea pigs every day or in large amounts.
Serving Size of Spinach
Now for the serving size. How much spinach can guinea pigs eat? One small leaf of spinach or two baby leaves is the safe serving size of spinach for guinea pigs.
How Often Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spinach? (Frequency of Spinach)
It is recommended to give guinea pigs spinach maximum twice a week. Never give them spinach more than twice a week in order to avoid any problems with their health.
How To Prepare Spinach For Your Guinea pigs: A Simple Guide
This is a simple step by step guide on how to prepare spinach for your guinea pig:
Step 1 – Always choose a ripe spinach that has a dark green color. Don’t give your guinea pigs rotten or yellow spinach leaves. Always give them something that you would eat as well.
Step 2 – Take your spinach and wash it thoroughly. This step is extremely important because sometimes there could be some leftover dirt or even insects. Also, this is good in order to minimize the pesticide effect.
Step 3 – Separate the stalks. They are not really pleasant for guinea pigs and they avoid it because it can be really tough to eat.
Step 4 – Slice spinach into smaller pieces and feed it to your guinea pig. Always clean the cage after the guinea pig is done eating in order to keep their environment clean.
More Information About Spinach and Guinea Pigs
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spinach Stems?
No, guinea pigs can’t eat spinach stems because it is too tough for guinea pigs’ teeth. It has a fibrous texture that most of the guinea pigs don’t like. As for the nutritional value, it is the same as the leaves.
Also because of the fibrous structure, some guinea pigs can have trouble chowing it and as a result, this can present a choking hazard.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Baby Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat baby spinach, in fact it is a far better choice for guinea pigs than the regular spinach. This is because baby spinach has smaller amounts of oxalic acid and calcium.
Does this mean that you can give them baby spinach every day? No, for guinea pigs, any type of spinach should be given to them maximum of two times a week, just to be on the safe side.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Frozen Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat frozen spinach but it needs to be defrosted first and given to guinea pigs only when it reaches room temperature. Cold food can be dangerous for pets (guinea pigs included) and it can cause diarrhea and many different health problems.
Always wash frozen food before giving it to your guinea pigs as it is possible that it was not washed before freezing.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Spinach?
No, guinea pigs can’t eat cooked spinach, any type of cooked food is dangerous to the guinea pig’s health. Guinea pig stomach can’t process any cooked food.
Also, any type of processed or canned spinach must be avoided as it will cause serious problems to guinea pig’s health.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Red Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat red spinach as well. Red spinach is considered to be a substitute for the regular green spinach because they have mostly the same nutrients.
The scientific name for red spinach is “Amaranthus dubius”, other popular names are Chinese spinach, yin choy and others.
Healthy Alternatives to Spinach in Guinea Pig’s Diet
There are many other healthy alternatives to spinach when it comes to the guinea pig diet. It is really important to add variety because guinea pigs love trying out different foods.
Also, please remember that guinea pigs don’t like the same food. One guinea pig will adore arugula while the other won’t even look at it. These are some of the healthy alternatives that are similar to spinach:
There are many more foods that guinea pigs love and that are good for them. Please check out a simple food list for guinea pigs or if you want something more in-depth, see our detailed food list with more than 150+ different foods for guinea pigs.
If you are interested in what foods guinea pigs can’t eat, click on this link.
Can a Guinea Pig Recover From Too Much Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs can recover from eating too much spinach by implementing a low calcium food diet. This type of diet will keep calcium levels low and your guinea pig will feel better. Still, if the damage has been done and your guinea pig is not feeling well, you should take it to an exotic veterinarian.
We have carefully constructed a low calcium diet for guinea pigs, click on this link if you want to see it.
Quick Facts on Spinach
The following fast facts about spinach will amaze you:
- Spinach originated from Persia which is today known as Iran.
- This green vegetable was brought to China in the 7th century.
- In China, spinach is still widely known as the Persian green.
- Spinach loses nutritional value by each day and thus should be eaten fresh.
- The leaves from the spinach plant are used as laxatives and diuretics.
- The spinach grows well in cold and moist conditions.
- Also, spinach grows well in sandy soils.
- China is the world’s largest producer of spinach at a whopping 85%.
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.
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.
If you found this post useful, would you mind helping out by sharing it? Just click one of the handy social media sharing buttons below so others can also learn about guinea pig food and diet!
List of Sources
Wasson, G. E., The Vitamin C Content of Fresh and Canned Spinach, Swiss Chard, Asparagus and Carrots, South Dakota State University, 1931.
Jovanovski, E., Bosco, L., Khan, K., Au-Yeung, F., Ho, H., Zurbau, A., Jenkins, A. L., Vuksan, V., Effect of Spinach, a High Dietary Nitrate Source, on Arterial Stiffness and Related Hemodynamic Measures: A Randomized, Controlled Trial in Healthy Adults, The Korean Society of Clinical Nutrition, 2015.
Dunker, C. F., The stability of vitamin C in spinach to cooking, freezing, canning and drying, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1937.
Syedhussain, S., Tan, K, Abu Bakar, M., The effect of cellulose on crystal formation in the kidneys of guinea pigs fed diet rich in calcium and sodium, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, 1996.
O’Dell, B. L., Morris, E. R., Pickett, E. E., Hogan, A. G., Diet Composition and Mineral Balance in Guinea Pigs, The Journal of Nutrition, 1957.
Tahseen, F., Tahseen, M., NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF SPINACIA OLERAECEA SPINACH-AN OVERVIEW, International Journal of Life Sciences and Review. 2016.