15 Things Guinea Pigs Should Never Eat
There is one really easy first step when considering if you can share something with your guinea pig. Think like a guinea pig! You are looking around for nom noms. What is available to you as your natural diet? Not meat – you don’t hunt prey. Not dairy. What are you nibbling on? Grasses, leaves, shoots, flowers, some berries, tree bark now and then. Some fruits. You eat plants!
Now that you’ve got that picture in your head, let’s just go over 15 things your guinea pig shouldn’t eat, and a short description of why:
1. Meat of any kind. That means no cat, dog, or ferret food either! Guinea pig digestive systems are not set up to digest anything but plants. They don’t have the GI tract equipment to digest any meat at all, and it can make them quite seriously ill.
2. Dairy, including yogurt, cheese, kefir, sour cream, cream cheese, and cottage cheese. Again, the guinea pig GI tract is not meant for anything but plants. They simply don’t have the enzymes and other things they’d need to digest dairy products. Yogurt drops are NOT OK…they can do damage to your piggy's system, and it may take a while for any symptoms to show.
"Take a minute to think about how guinea pigs eat naturally. Guinea pigs are built to eat plants, and things they could find by themselves. "
3. Iceberg lettuce and the lighter lettuces give guinea pigs diarrhea. Nobody likes poopy butt. Endive, dandelions greens, carrot tops, there are a lot of choices out there!
4. Cabbage, cauliflower, or other gassy veggies can lead to bloat. Guinea pigs can’t deal with gassy foods as well as we can – they have no way to get rid of that extra gas.
5. Avocado. Lots of piggies do struggle with weight issues, and avocado is high in fat. Of course, there are other issue with the skin and pit, but in this case, avoid even the inside soft "meat".
6. Onions, leeks, chives, or shallots can lead to blood disorders.
7. Any plant or item that may have been treated with a pesticide should be avoided at all cost – guinea pigs are super sensitive to chemical residue, and their livers and kidneys can be destroyed quickly.
8. Garlic is just plain poisonous for cavies.
10. Rhubarb and other plants high in oxalic acids can cause kidney and urinary tract stones.
11. Any plastic toy can be nibbled and chewed on, resulting in your cavy swallowing the plastic bits. These can be sharp, are totally indigestible, and have no business inside your guinea pig.
12. Anything with glues, varnishes, paints or dyes that are not human food-grade safe. Again, be very cautious about any chemical intake. Industrial glues for toilet paper and paper towel rolls, for instance, are not meant to be eaten.
13. Nuts are high in fat. Avoid the extra hours of cavy aerobics and just say no.
" Guinea pig digestive systems are very delicate. Think about whether the thing you want to give them is high in starch, whether it could cause them gas, or if it could become stuck in that GI tract."
14. Chocolate, or candy of any kind
15. Tomato leaves or stalks are toxic, but the tomato (Fruit or veg? You decide.) is perfectly fine.
and here's a bonus:
16. Seeds and pips can be a choking hazard, and some are very high in fats. Some even contain arsenic, such as apple seeds.
Your piggy’s diet needs to be at least 80% great hay. For an adult, that usually means second cut timothy. The rest of guinea pig’s diet should a variety of fresh greens, some fruits and veggies, lots of fresh clean water, herbs, and edible flowers. Pelleted food can provide a little snack too, but aim for less than about 1/8 cup daily for an adult cavy.