Diet is likely the single most important aspect of guinea pig care. Typically, a combination of nutritious pellets and fresh timothy hay are the best recipe for success, but you can also give your pet delicious treats from time to time. Vegetables should represent the bulk of the treats you offer, as they’re nutritious and most guinea pigs love them.
But you must be sure to select vegetables that are safe and healthy for your pet. We’ll help you do so below, as we discuss which vegetables guinea pigs can eat and which ones you must avoid giving to your pet.
The 13 Best Vegetables for Guinea Pigs
There are a number of vegetables that are safe to give your guinea pig, and many will help keep your pet healthy and happy too. We’ll discuss 13 of the best vegetables for guinea pigs below.
Celery is primarily comprised of fiber and water, so it is a safe food for your guinea pigs. Most guinea pigs like the taste too, just be sure that you cut it into relatively small pieces so your pet can eat it without difficulty. You’ll also want to remove the tough base of the celery stalks before offering them to your pet.
Many guinea pigs like celery leaves too, so be sure to include those too.
Broccoli is rich in Vitamin C, so it makes a great addition to your pet’s diet. Many guinea pigs appear to like the taste of broccoli, but this isn’t a universal trait — some will avoid it entirely.
Just be sure to offer broccoli in moderation, as it contains a lot of calcium and fiber. The former can lead to bladder stones and the latter can cause intestinal discomfort for your pet.
Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but most people think of them as vegetables, so we’re including them here. Most commonly available tomatoes – including grape, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes – are safe to feed your guinea pig. Just be sure to remove any seeds, which may cause your pet to choke, and any leaves or stems, which are toxic.
If you use a large variety of tomato, you’ll need to cut it into small wedges or slices. You can offer small tomatoes (such as cherry tomatoes) to your guinea pig as-is, but they may have an easier time eating them if you cut the tomatoes in half or just squish them.
You can give your guinea pig spinach on occasion, but you must not do so very often. Most guinea pigs love spinach, and it is a pretty good source of Vitamin C. However, it is also rich in oxalic acid, which can trigger the formation of bladder stones. Spinach may also cause bloating and discomfort if fed in excessive quantities.
You don’t have to cut the spinach into small pieces before giving it to your pet, but it’ll make things easier on your pet if you do. You can include the stems and the leaves when feeding your pet spinach.
Carrots are an acceptable treat for your guinea pig, but you must offer them in moderation. They are a good source of Vitamin A, but they’re relatively low in Vitamin C. They’re also full of calcium, which can lead to stone formation.
Nevertheless, carrots will help wear down your pet’s teeth, which will help prevent your pet’s teeth from becoming overgrown. Feel free to include the carrot tops when you feed them to your pet – they’re healthy and most guinea pigs enjoy them.
Kale is a “good news / bad news” vegetable for guinea pigs. On one hand, it is absolutely loaded with Vitamin C; but on the other hand, it is also full of calcium. So, while you can offer your pet kale from time to time, you must be careful to avoid providing too much kale to your pet.
Cut kale into small pieces before giving it to your pet and be sure to include the leaves and stalks when doing so. Note that kale has a pretty strong taste, so don’t be surprised if your guinea pigs don’t seem to like it.
Cabbage is acceptable as an occasional treat for guinea pigs, but it should not be provided in excess. While it does contain a significant amount of Vitamin C, it is also quite high in calcium, which may cause your pet to suffer from bladder stones.
Note that green cabbage is slightly better for your pet than red cabbage is, but either is safe to provide in moderation. Cabbage has a slightly rubbery texture, so be sure to cut it into manageable pieces before offering it to your pet.
8. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts aren’t an ideal treat for guinea pigs, as they are loaded with calcium and their fiber content may cause your pet to experience gas and bloating. However, they do have a relatively significant amount of Vitamin C, so they are acceptable to offer on rare occasions (perhaps once a month or so).
As with most other cruciferous vegetables, brussels sprouts have a strong, bitter taste. Consequently, some guinea pigs may not enjoy them very much.
9. Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a reasonably nutritious vegetable for guinea pigs. However, you must be sure to offer it in moderation, as it has more calcium that we’d consider to be ideal. Additionally, thanks to its fiber content, Swiss chard may cause gas, bloating or diarrhea.
Be sure to cut the Swiss chard into pieces small enough for your pet to handle. It’s also important to remove the tough base, although the softer portions of the stems are perfectly acceptable for guinea pigs.
Radicchio is a good vegetable to offer your guinea pig from time to time. It does have a moderate amount of calcium, but it also provides plenty of Vitamin C, which helps offset the high calcium content. Just be sure to offer it in moderation – consider offering it to your pet once or twice per week.
Some guinea pigs may demonstrate a preference for the softer inner leaves of radicchio, rather than the tougher outer leaves. Accordingly, you may want to experiment with different portions of the vegetable if your pet doesn’t seem to find radicchio palatable.
Most guinea pigs love corn, and they’ll even nibble on the leaves too. Yes, technically, corn is a fruit like tomatoes, but we’re including it with vegetables because that’s what most people think of it as. Yellow corn is probably the most common variety guinea pig owners feed their pet, but white corn is also perfectly acceptable.
Corn may occasionally cause bloating, so it should only be offered in small quantities. Make sure that you don’t allow your pet to eat the cob (instead, you’ll want to scrape the kernels off with a butter knife), as this could cause a fatal intestinal obstruction.
While technically another fruit, zucchini is perhaps the very best vegetable to feed your guinea pig. Most guinea pigs love the taste of zucchini, and it is also very nutritious. Zucchini contains a lot of Vitamin C, yet it has a relatively low calcium content, which is just what guinea pigs need.
Cut the zucchini into small slices or wedges before offering it to your pet. Feel free to leave the skin intact, as this contains some of the vegetable’s vitamins and minerals.
There are a variety of different types of lettuce you can feed your guinea pig. Most are a pretty good source of Vitamin C, and they don’t have as much calcium as some other vegetables do. Guinea pigs usually seem to like the taste and texture of lettuce, and you can feed some types of lettuce to your pet on a regular basis.
However, you must choose carefully among the various types of lettuce that are available. Generally speaking, romaine, green leaf, red leaf, and butter lettuces are all acceptable for guinea pigs. It isn’t entirely clear whether tango lettuce is appropriate for guinea pigs, as nutritional information about this variety is difficult to find. You should, however, avoid feeding one type of lettuce to your pet at all. We’ll discuss this variety in the following section.
Be sure to wash romaine lettuce especially carefully, as some feature a cone-like growth habit that allows bacteria, pesticides and insects to become trapped in the base of the leaves. No matter what type of lettuce you choose, you’ll want to chop off the stem and base of the head, and then cut the remaining pieces into small squares before offering them to your pet.
Note that we only discuss romaine lettuce in our chart below, as it is likely the best variety to feed guinea pigs. If you’d like to learn more about feeding your guinea pig lettuce, please see our in-depth discussion of lettuces here.
Ten Vegetables You Should Avoid Giving Your Guinea Pig
While there are a number of vegetables that make great treats for guinea pigs, others may cause health problems. Some of the ones that you’ll want to avoid feeding your pet are discussed below.
Asparagus isn’t toxic for guinea pigs, but it is generally best avoided. Asparagus often causes guinea pigs to experience gas, and it has more calcium than Vitamin C.
Cucumbers aren’t dangerous for guinea pigs, but their nutritional profile is not ideal for guinea pigs. In fact, cucumbers have three times as much calcium as Vitamin C. If you do offer your pet a bit of cucumber from time to time, be sure to include the peel.
3. Iceberg Lettuce
While romaine, green leaf and other types of lettuce are acceptable for guinea pigs, iceberg lettuce should usually be avoided. Iceberg lettuce can cause guinea pigs to experience digestive difficulties, and it doesn’t provide a great deal of nutritional content, either.
Radishes are another example of a vegetable which you should avoid, although it isn’t toxic to guinea pigs. The primary problem with radishes is that – like many other problematic vegetables you should avoid giving your guinea pig – they contain an abundance of calcium, yet very little Vitamin C.
5. Green Beans
Green beans aren’t a terrible food to offer your guinea pigs on very rare occasions, as they’re loaded with fiber and vitamins. However, they’re simply too high in calcium to be suitable for routine use.
Unlike some of the other vegetables we discourage guinea pig owners from feeding to their pets, onions are actually toxic and should be completely avoided. Onions contain chemicals called disulfides, which will damage your guinea pig’s red blood cells. If your guinea pig eats enough of them, he could become severely anemic and potentially die.
7. Collard, Turnip and Mustard Greens
Collard, turnip and mustard greens are often considered some of the healthiest vegetables to provide some animals, but they are generally not good to offer your guinea pig. These vegetables all provide a moderate amount of Vitamin C, but their calcium content is simply too high, and they are likely to result in bladder stones.
A tiny bit of eggplant is unlikely to sicken your guinea pig, but it contains very little nutritional value relative to the amount of starch it contains. It doesn’t have a lot of calcium, but it doesn’t have very much Vitamin C either.
Potatoes are simply too starchy for guinea pigs, and they don’t offer much Vitamin C at all. Additionally, if the potatoes develop green spots, they can cause your pet to become very sick.
Guinea pigs will usually suffer from serious intestinal discomfort if fed rhubarb, so you should avoid giving it to them entirely. Additionally, it doesn’t provide very much nutrition for your pet either.
Calcium and Vitamin C Content of Selected Vegetables
As you’ve likely noticed by now, the Vitamin C and calcium content of vegetables are two of the most important factors to consider when feeding your pet. We’ll try to help you do so below, by providing information about a few of the most common vegetables owners feed to their pets.
|Vegetable||Calcium Per Ounce||Vitamin C Per Ounce|
|Celery||0.9 milligrams||11.2 milligrams|
|Broccoli||25 milligrams||13.2 milligrams|
|Tomatoes||3.6 milligrams||2.8 milligrams|
|Spinach||7.9 milligrams||27.7 milligrams|
|Carrots||1.7 milligrams||9.2 milligrams|
|Kale||33.6 milligrams||37.8 milligrams|
|Cabbage||10.2 milligrams||11.2 milligrams|
|Brussel Sprouts||23.8 milligrams||11.8 milligrams|
|Swiss Chard||8.4 milligrams||14.3 milligrams|
|Radicchio||2.2 milligrams||5.3 milligrams|
|Corn||1.9 milligrams||0.6 milligrams|
|Romaine Lettuce||9.2 milligrams||6.7 milligrams|
All values were taken from SELF Nutrition Data.
Which Vegetables Are Best: Fresh, Frozen or Canned?
One of the challenges involved in providing your guinea pig with fresh vegetables is the fact that you will often end up needing to buy larger quantities than your pet can eat before it spoils. Fresh vegetables are more expensive than frozen or canned varieties, so many guinea pig owners wonder if they could switch to frozen or canned vegetables instead.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a great idea. We’ll explain why below, starting with frozen vegetables.
Frozen vegetables are safe to give your guinea pig, but most won’t like the taste or texture of thawed vegetables. Additionally, the vitamins they contain will degrade over time, which reduces the value they’ll provide to your pet. If you do have to give your pet frozen vegetables in a pinch, make sure that you offer them soon after opening the bag.
Many guinea pigs will also find canned vegetables unpalatable, so they’ll often refuse them completely. Additionally – and more importantly – many canned vegetables have salt added to them. This is obviously not good for your guinea pigs, so you’ll want to completely avoid giving canned vegetables to your pet.
Preparing Vegetables for Your Guinea Pig
Now that you have a better understanding of the best vegetables to offer your guinea pig, you need to learn how to prepare them properly. Don’t worry – it’s easy to do so. Just follow the three steps listed below.
- Wash the vegetables thoroughly. The vegetables sold at your local grocery store or farmer’s market are typically contaminated with pesticides and/or bacteria. Either of these things can make your pet sick, so be sure to wash your vegetables thoroughly before offering them to your pet. Once you’ve rinsed them, shake them off and let them dry.
- Remove any dangerous or inedible portions of the vegetable. Even vegetables that are safe to give guinea pigs often contain toxic parts, which you must remove before offering them to your pet. For example, tomatoes are perfectly safe for guinea pigs, but you must remove any leaves or stems present, as they contain toxins that may kill your pet.
- Cut the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Many vegetables are simply too large for guinea pigs to comfortably handle. So, to make things easier for your pet, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you can place some of the vegetables in your pet’s food dish. Store any unused portion of the vegetables in a tightly sealed plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator. Most vegetables should last a few days before they become inedible.
Make sure that you go back and check on your guinea pig a few hours after offering the vegetables and remove any that he fails to consume in this time. Discard these uneaten portions, as they may have become contaminated by bacteria during this time.
Guinea Pig Vegetable FAQs
A lot of guinea pig owners have questions about feeding vegetables to their pets. We’ll try to answer a few of the most common questions owners have below.
Are vegetables mandatory for guinea pigs?
It is probably possible to raise a guinea pig without any vegetables, but it would drastically increase the likelihood that your pet will suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, vegetables help improve your pet’s quality of life, which is something all pet owners should strive to do.
How long can you leave vegetables in your pet’s bowl?
Your guinea pig’s vegetables will start to decompose relatively quickly. If your pet eats vegetables that are already rotting, he can become sick, so you’ll need to remove any uneaten vegetables within a couple of hours of offering them.
Can you give a guinea pig cooked vegetables?
Steamed vegetables that have not been seasoned in any way are probably not dangerous to your pet, but they won’t have the same nutritional value as raw vegetables. Accordingly, you should always just stick to raw vegetables for your pet. Besides, most guinea pigs will not find cooked vegetables very palatable anyway.
How often should you give your guinea pig vegetables?
Different authorities recommend that owners offer different amounts of vegetables to their guinea pig. However, as a general rule, you should give your guinea pig fresh vegetables five to seven times each week.
What is the proper quantity of vegetables to give your pet guinea pig?
Again, authorities differ in their recommendations, but most agree that you should provide your pet with no more than 1 cup of fresh vegetables per day.
Should you give your guinea pig the same kind of vegetables every day?
While you should always offer new vegetables to your pet slowly, in very small quantities, it is wise to switch up the vegetables you offer your guinea pig regularly. This will help broaden your pet’s diet, which will help prevent him from suffering from nutritional deficiencies. It’ll also prevent him from getting bored with vegetables you offer repeatedly.
Wrapping Up: Vegetables for Your Guinea Pig
As you can see by now, vegetables are an important part of your guinea pig’s diet. Consequently, you’ll want to be sure to offer them to your pet on a regular basis. Just be sure to select from the 12 vegetables we recommend above, and mix up the specific vegetables you pick on a regular basis.
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