When you take a look at a tiny animal such as a guinea pig, people often assume that they can eat almost anything. This also has to do with their name because “real” pigs can eat almost anything. Well, this is not true for our small guinea pigs! Despite being huge food lovers, guinea pigs should have their nutrition pretty limited to certain plants and vegetables.
You see, guinea pigs were always herbivorous animals, even back in the day where they used to live in forests. Since we adopted them, guinea pigs became more socialized but their way of surviving is literally the same.
Herbivorous animals are much more intolerant to certain foods and guinea pigs aren’t an exception. So, if you don’t know what foods you definitely need to avoid feeding your guinea pig, take a look at our list of 13 most toxic foods for guinea pigs.
Every type of food on this list needs to be avoided or they can have a drastic impact on your guinea pig health.
13 Most Toxic Foods for Guinea Pigs You Should Avoid at All Costs
1. Any Kind of Meat
The first thing you should NEVER give to your guinea pig is meat. Whether it’s fish, beef, chicken or any other kind of animal, meat should never be in your guinea pig’s meal plan. Why? Well, for the reasons above. Herbivorous animals have digestive systems that are set up only for digesting plants and nothing else. On the other hand, the carnivorous animals’ digestive system is much more versatile and technically, they can survive eating only plants. But, they don’t eat it since their nature tells them to only eat meat.
If you give your guinea pig any kind of meat, it may produce some serious side effects. Since meat can’t be digested by guinea pigs, it can lead to stomach problems, it can make your guinea pig seriously ill, and of course, it can sometimes lead to death.
2. Dairy Products
Any kind of dairy product is bad for your guinea pig. Whether it’s yogurt, sour cream, cheese, kefir or milk, guinea pigs can have serious issues digesting these. Dairy products can sometimes create problems even for us, humans, and for a guinea pig, that’s just overkill. Some guinea pig owners advocate putting a few drops of yogurt into guinea pig’s food. This is NOT good and you should forget about it. As guinea pig’s digesting system is very complex, they don’t have the right type of enzymes to digest dairy products properly.
Even though your guinea pig seems normal after consuming some of the dairy products, don’t be fooled. Dairy products take a while to produce symptoms and when they do, your piggie can be in serious trouble.
When I tell people that they should not give avocados to their guinea pigs, they look at me as if I don’t know what I’m talking about. Sure, avocados are great for us people. They represent a healthy source of fat, vitamins, and minerals. Avocados can also help you lose weight through quality fats and low amount of carbohydrates. But, let me repeat it once again – guinea pigs have a sophisticated digestion system and they can’t have many benefit from avocados.
The reason for this is that avocados are high in fat. Given the fact that many guinea pigs suffer from weight issues, giving them additional fat isn’t going to produce good results. Some people will still give guinea pigs the inside ’soft’ meat but that’s all the same. All in all, don’t bother with avocados. Eat them yourself and don’t ever give them to your guinea pig.
Onions are great for humans, yet they aren’t safe for guinea pigs. What’s more interesting is that even dogs aren’t supposed to eat onions. There is a simple reason for it and that’s the presence of a substance called disulfide. Disulfide can damage red blood cells in guinea pig’s blood stream. After being damaged, these cells can’t carry oxygen thus making your guinea pig weak, anemic, and unable to breathe properly. Guinea pigs can even DIE from these conditions and that’s why you should never give onion to your pig.
Potatoes are completely useless for your guinea pig, apart from being dangerous. If we take a look at the nutritional value of potatoes, we can see that carbs are the most dominant. Carbs, especially in higher amounts, can make your guinea pig fat and also increase blood sugar. Furthermore, potato skin has harmful toxins that can be poisonous to guinea pigs. All in all, potatoes can be very poisonous and they also don’t bring any quality vitamins and minerals for a guinea pig.
6. Tomato (Green Parts)
Tomatoes are generally okay for your guinea pig but certain parts are toxic – vine and any leaves, as well as the stalk attached directly to the tomato. When you feed your guinea pig with tomatoes, be sure to remove the uneaten food as tomatoes can very easily get ripe and in this state, tomatoes are very bad for a guinea pig. A fresh tomato without any leaves, vine, and stalk is great but other than that, it’s pretty toxic.
Much like avocados, nuts have a lot of fat in them. Every single nut, such as walnut, hazelnut or peanut, has an excessive amount of fat. It’s not that this fat is necessarily bad. After all, we’re talking mostly about unsaturated fat. But, any kind of fat can make your guinea pig gain some weight. Even 10 grams of fat a day can make guinea pig fatter than it is. Remember, guinea pigs are very small animals. 10 grams of fat for them isn’t the same as for us or any bigger animal. On top of that, some of the nuts can cause certain digestion problems.
8. Candies and Chocolates
Whereas nuts have fats, candies and chocolates have mostly carbohydrates… and some fat! If we’re talking about milk chocolate, we also have some fat in there, accompanied by a high amount of sugar. Sugar isn’t even good for people and for a guinea pig, it can be the number one ingredient that can cause certain health issues. Let’s begin by saying that carbohydrates are the number one culprits for weight problems.
Imagine giving some chocolate to your guinea pig every day. Your guinea pig can quickly accumulate unnecessary weight and this can cause a variety of health problems such as weight problems, high sugar, etc.
Seeds should never be given to guinea pigs. The main reason for this is that they can be very easy to swallow accidentally and the seeds can easily choke your guinea pig. Furthermore, seeds are sometimes high in fat and guinea pigs don’t need any fat in their diet. Finally, some seeds contain arsenic, which can be deadly for a guinea pig. Apple seeds, for example, contain a fair amount of arsenic, so here’s something to evade next time you feed your guinea pig.
10. Certain Guinea Pig Treats
When visiting a pet shop, you often see those guinea pig treats. They look kinda delicious and your guinea pig seems to enjoy it. What’s the catch? The catch is that some of these treats contain ingredients unhealthy for guinea pigs. Most of them have some amount of sugar but also other unusable ingredients that can damage your guinea pig’s health. When we talk about unusable ingredients, we usually think about mealworms.
It’s basically a form of meat and as we mentioned, any form of meat can be deadly for a guinea pig. Next time you plan on buying some treats, please read the product description carefully and decide whether or not to buy it. (Check out our review of the best and healthy guinea pig treats)
11. Iceberg and Lighter Lettuce
As much as it sounds strange, guinea pigs shouldn’t eat lettuce, at least not the Iceberg and lighter lettuce. We’re sure that there are some types of lettuce viable to guinea pigs but to pick the one that’s right is going to mean the trial-and-error approach. Through trial and error, your guinea pig can suffer from diarrhea and various digestion problems, so bothering it with lettuce is pointless. This is the main issue with lettuce as it can lead to very problematic diarrheas during the day.
Furthermore, this means that you’ll need to clean the cage more often because if you don’t do that, your guinea pig can get some skin problems we’ve mentioned in the previous article. As for alternatives, you can always go for carrot tops, dandelions greens, and endive.
12. Gassy Vegetables
Guinea pigs can get bloated, too. And when that happens, they have no way of releasing the excessive gas. You’ll agree that cabbage can sometimes make you bloated but in our case, we have the way of releasing that gas. On the other hand, guinea pigs, with no possibility of releasing it, will get bloated.
This condition can decrease the appetite of a pig as well as make it less active, as a result of bloat and pain in the stomach. Under any circumstances, stay away from these vegetables and instead, go for some of the vegetables we mentioned in the previous section.
13. Fresh Fruit That is High in Sugar
Fresh fruit isn’t bad for your guinea pig but only in one case – when given as an occasional treat. As we know, fructose located in fruit isn’t the healthiest sugar out there. In fact, it’s one of the LEAST healthy sugars as it converts to glycogen in your liver, rather than in your muscles, except in some rare cases. In any case, any kind of sugar in the guinea pig’s diet is unwanted and so is fruit sugar.
The fruit is given to guinea pigs for another reason and that’s the solid amount of vitamins and minerals in some of the fruit available. Be sure to avoid giving them too many sugary fruits such as bananas, oranges, apples, and pears. They can eat these fruits but occasionally and in low serving sizes. Instead, focus on giving some low-sugar fruit. If given in the right amount, fruit can supply a guinea pig with a healthy dose of vitamins. Be sure to thoroughly wash the piece of fruit before giving it to them.
Remember that your guinea pig’s nutrition should be at least 80% hay. That being said, the other 20% are kept for food that your guinea pig can eat, aside from hay. The primary focus of the diet should be on hay and the food we’ve mentioned above should be evaded at all costs.
You can still give your guinea pig an occasional treat or a piece of fruit. Meat, dairy products, chocolate or any kind of sweet or fatty snacks should be discarded and avoided at all costs.
Source: Guinea Pig Nutritional Requirements – Mississippi State University
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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