The salty crunch of a fresh pickle is so satisfying. And since guinea pigs eat plants, they should enjoy a pickle slice, right?
Not exactly. Your guinea pig may enjoy pickles, but that doesn’t mean the tangy veggie is good for their overall health.
The high sodium contents of the brine can harm your guinea pig by disrupting its digestion and causing dehydration. For this reason, it’s best to avoid pickles altogether.
But don’t let that slap on the wrist discourage you. This post discusses what you should feed your guinea pig and some tasty treats you can offer to embellish your pig’s diet. Let’s dive in.
Why Pickles and Guinea Pigs Don’t Mix
Guinea pigs don’t consume much salt in the wild except what they obtain from the natural vegetation in the environment. Pickle brine is high in sodium, which can disrupt your guinea pig’s digestion and cause dehydration.
An easy alternative is to offer fresh cucumber. You don’t have to worry about the salty brine negatively affecting your pig, and they still get a refreshing treat to nibble on.
What Should a Guinea Pig Eat?
Guinea pigs are herbivores, meaning they eat only plants and plant-based foods. For wild guinea pigs, this includes grasses and flowers. Our job as guinea pig owners is to mimic this diet as best we can.
The ideal diet for a domesticated guinea pig is unlimited amounts of Timothy or low-calcium hay and/or fresh grass. This should form the majority of their diet and is needed to keep their teeth short and their digestive system moving and healthy. They also need around a tablespoon of grass-based commercial guinea pig pellets and fresh greens and vegetables each day. Ones high in vitamin C are especially good for guinea pigs.
Why Vitamin C Is King
Guinea pigs (and humans) need an adequate amount of vitamin C in their diet for healthy skin, joints and gums. This important vitamin also helps with wound healing and supports the immune system.
You won’t find wild guinea pigs munching on vitamin C supplements in the wild because fresh grass is packed with vitamin C. However, domesticated guinea pigs don’t have the option of grazing on fresh grass as much, so hay is often offered as a replacement.
If you feed a good selection of vegetables high in vitamin C, along with a good fresh guinea pig pellet then you can usually meet the vitamin C needs of your guinea pig. Sometimes it will need to be supplemented.
Most guinea pig pellets have added vitamin C but this can degrade over time. Ensure you keep them in a sealed container and that they are eaten by the best-before date. Feed as per the manufacturer’s guidelines and remember these should always be fed alongside hay, grass and fresh food and not as the main part of your guinea pig’s diet. Avoid muesli style mix which tends to be high in sugar and low in carbohydrates.
Safe Fresh Food for Guinea Pigs
Your guinea pig should have some fresh greens and vegetables every day and try to aim for a variety with some that are high in vitamin C. Leafy greens are usually ideal. Avoid sudden changes to their diet though and always introduce new foods gradually.
Other Healthy Snacks for Your Guinea Pig
Who doesn’t love snacks? Your guinea pig is no exception. But like all snacks, we must offer them in moderation to maintain our guinea pigs’ health, even if the snacks are deemed healthy. Fresh cucumber is a great snack for your guinea pig, just not pickles. Here are some other nutritious snacks:
Snacks to Avoid
Snacks such as oats, cereals, nuts, and seeds should be avoided since these foods are high in carbohydrates. If a wild guinea pig wouldn’t eat these foods, you shouldn’t offer them in the first place.
Guinea pigs can eat fruit, but it’s best to offer fruit only for special occasions since they’re also high in sugar. Stick to the fruits high in vitamin C if you offer some to your pig.
Even if guinea pigs can’t enjoy the briny goodness of a pickle, there are still plenty of other fruits and vegetables to enjoy. The best snacks are full of vitamin C. Odds are that you already have some in your fridge!
Featured Image Credit: PhotoMIX-Company, Pixabay