Even though the bulk of your guinea pig’s diet should be comprised of a pelleted food and timothy hay, it is also important to offer your pet fresh fruits and vegetables from time to time. This will not only keep your guinea pig mentally stimulated and help prevent him from becoming bored with his food, but it will also help ensure he doesn’t suffer from any nutritional deficiencies.
But not all fruits and vegetables are safe for guinea pigs, and some provide more nutrition than others. Today, we’ll focus on cabbage – a vegetable that guinea pig owners often consider including in their pet’s diet.
Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig Cabbage?
Generally speaking, cabbage is an acceptable food to offer your guinea pig. However, there are several different types of cabbage, and they all have different nutritional profiles. Simply put, some types of cabbage are safer for guinea pigs to eat than others.
We’ll discuss four of the most common types of cabbage below, so you can learn more about feeding them to your pet.
Is Green Cabbage Good for Guinea Pigs?
Green cabbage is not an ideal vegetable for your guinea pig, but you can feed it to your pet in minimal to moderate quantities. Green cabbage does contain quite a bit of Vitamin C, which is important for your pet’s health (guinea pigs cannot create their own Vitamin C the way some animals, such as dogs, do).
However, it also contains quite a bit of calcium. Excessive amounts of calcium can cause guinea pigs to suffer from bladder and kidney stones.
Is Red Cabbage Good for Guinea Pigs?
Because it has more Vitamin C than most other types of cabbage, red cabbage is probably the best variety to feed your pet. The large amounts of Vitamin C contained in the food will help prevent your pet from developing scurvy – a potentially fatal disease that afflicts guinea pigs who don’t obtain enough of the vitamin.
Unfortunately, red cabbage also contains quite a bit of calcium. This means that you can’t feed it to your pet too often, as it may trigger the formation of urinary tract stones.
Is Chinese Cabbage Good for Guinea Pigs?
Chinese cabbage is likely the least appropriate cabbage to feed guinea pigs. It does contain quite a bit of Vitamin C, which will help ensure your pet gets enough of this essential vitamin. However, it is also full of calcium. In fact, it has more than three times as much calcium as some other types of cabbage.
Accordingly, if you decide to feed your pet Chinese cabbage, you must do so very sparingly.
Is Savoy Cabbage Good for Guinea Pigs?
Savoy cabbage is not an ideal cabbage to feed to your pet. It doesn’t have as much Vitamin C as the other types of cabbage discussed here, which means it won’t help your pet stave off scurvy.
Savoy cabbage actually has less calcium than most other types of cabbage, so it may, however, be useful for guinea pigs who’ve suffered from urinary tract stones in the past. Just understand that you’ll still likely need to provide your pet with a few vegetables that are high in Vitamin C to help keep him healthy.
Bloating and Gas: A Common Problem Cabbages Cause Guinea Pigs
Whenever you are trying to determine whether you should feed a given fruit or vegetable to your pet, you’ll want to be sure to consider all aspects of the food – not just its nutritional content.
For example, you must consider whether your pet will like the food, as well as any digestive difficulties it may cause him. Some guinea pigs do appear uninterested in cabbage, but the majority will munch on it readily, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your pet will like it. Even if your pet doesn’t want to eat the cabbage you provide, he won’t be missing out on much, as cabbage isn’t one of the most nutritious foods you can offer. He’ll either like it, or he won’t, but this won’t cause any problems either way.
On the other hand, cabbage can be tough on your guinea pig’s digestive system. Specifically, it can often cause gas and bloating. This should only cause temporary discomfort if you feed your pet small amounts of cabbage, but if you feed him large quantities of the food, it can lead to long-term problems and disrupt the bacterial flora of his intestines.
How Often Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig Cabbage?
Because cabbage isn’t especially nutritious, contains a large amount of calcium, and may cause digestive problems for your pet, you’ll only want to feed it to your pet sparingly. This will typically mean giving your pet a leaf or two of cabbage once or twice per week. It may even be wise to feed it to your pet only once every other week.
Note that guinea pigs who have suffered from bladder or kidney stones in the past should probably not be offered high-calcium vegetables like Chinese cabbage at all.
Nutritional Information for Cabbage
Below, we’ve put together a chart that details the different nutritional values of various types of cabbage. Use this information to help determine how often you should feed your pet cabbage and which type you should select.
|Type of Cabbage||Calcium Per Ounce||Vitamin C Per Ounce|
|Green Cabbage||11.2 milligrams||10.2 milligrams|
|Red Cabbage||12.6 milligrams||16.0 milligrams|
|Chinese Cabbage||29.4 milligrams||12.6 milligrams|
|Savoy Cabbage||9.8 milligrams||8.7 milligrams|
All values were taken from SELF Nutrition Data.
Preparing and Serving Cabbage to Your Guinea Pig
Cabbage is fairly easy to prepare for your guinea pig. You’ll want to start by washing it thoroughly to remove any pesticides, herbicides or bacteria that may have contaminated it.
Then, you’ll want to remove the core (stem). It’s often easiest to do so by slamming the cabbage (stem side down) on to a kitchen counter. This will break many of the fibers free, making it easier to cut out the remaining portions of the stem.
At this point, you’ll want to cut the cabbage into 2- or 3-inch pieces to make it easier for your guinea pig to eat them.
Wrapping Up: Cabbage and Your Guinea Pig
Cabbage isn’t the best vegetable to provide your guinea pig on a regular basis, but it is certainly safe to offer in small amounts. Just do your best to select the best type of cabbage (likely red cabbage) for your pet, and only offer it about once per week or so. Additionally, consult your vet before offering it to any guinea pigs who’ve suffered from kidney or bladder stones.