If you own a pet Guinea Pig, then naturally you will have some questions on what you can and cannot feed them. Of course, providing certain foods can be rewarding, but is it always safe and healthy? What about certain green leafy vegetables; specifically spinach? Should you be including this in your cavies diet and are there any benefits in doing so? I spent some time researching the suitability of its inclusion and will be sharing my findings here today.
So, can Guinea Pigs eat Spinach? Guinea Pigs can eat spinach; although you are going to want to limit the amount of spinach your Guinea Pig eats in one sitting and across the week (1-3 times weekly). This is because Spinach contains large amounts of a plant toxin called Oxalates which in excess, can cause bladder stones in rodents.
Spinach is a popular vegetable in the diet of humans, often being cited as a ‘super-food’ for its nutrition and benefits towards health.
Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, magnesium, iron, and manganese it comes as no surprise that it is routinely recommended.
Guinea Pigs can too benefit from eating this leafy green vegetable, and the main benefit is that they do not need to eat as much.
Let us now take a closer look at the main question Guinea Pig owners ask in relation to offering this food in the diet.
We even outline precisely how you should feed it, how often, and in what state. So, be sure to keep on reading until the end to get all the information you need, especially if you do want to include it in your pet’s diet.
Why Is Spinach Good For Guinea Pigs?
Spinach can be a great way to add variety and nutrients to your Guinea Pigs diet.
Spinach is very high in electrolytes, vitamins and minerals particularly: Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin K., Potassium and Magnesium.
These are things that Guinea Pigs need to get in their diet, but normally have a harder time doing so just by regular pelleted food.
Offering spinach is a very simple and natural way to provide a number of essential nutrients.
Below, you can see some of the vitamins and minerals available:
Nutrition Facts About Spinach:
|Vitamin A||46.9 µg|
|Vitamin C||2.8 mg|
|Vitamin K||48.3 µg|
Studies have confirmed that these nutrients benefit eye health, reduce oxidative stress and reduce blood pressure, while also supporting other health functions.
Why Can Spinach Be Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Spinach is only bad for Guinea Pigs if it is consumed in excess. Providing it every day is not advised. It should be fed in moderation and serving sizes should also be controlled.
Equally, Spinach should only be fed raw or cooked; never in a frozen state (which is difficult to digest, high in water, and even poses a choking hazard).
Guinea Pigs simply do not have the digestive power to break frozen vegetables down. But if you were to provide it in this state, thankfully, you will notice that they typically will not even attempt to eat it.
From a health standpoint, Guinea Pigs are susceptible to bladder stones. These can form when a high level of Oxalates (a chemical within Spinach) combines with Calcium (also abundant in Spinach).
You can therefore see why Spinach can be problematic if given in excess.
Remember, a Guinea Pig is considerably smaller than a Human and therefore the ‘dose’ of vitamins and minerals varies dramatically.
One spinach leave for a Human is drastically different for a Guinea Pig. Not only will we absorb the Spinach (and the vitamins differently) but the requirements and how the Vitamins, Minerals and of course Oxalates affect us differ.
How To Safely Feed Your Guinea Pig Spinach
The best way to feed your pet Guinea Pig spinach is to give it to them on a consistent and regular day of the week. This way you can keep track of what you have given them and how much.
For example, Sunday could be Spinach day for your Guinea Pig.
Every Sunday, you would therefore add a couple of leaves to their food bowl.
You can also give it to your Guinea Pig as an occasional treat, just be sure not to do this too regularly.
When it comes to offering spinach, you can let your Guinea Pig eat a couple of leaves directly out of your hand. This can be rewarding and a great way to bond with your pet.
Equally, you can place some spinach around the cage and let your cavy eat it as and when they want to.
If you notice that they are not fond or do not even attempt to eat it; be sure to remove it. You do not want it to rot and become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Lastly, another great options that is typically used by owners is to mix the spinach in with other foods. Some owners like to create a vegetable medley whereas others like to include it in with their bowl of pellets.
Guinea Pigs can eat spinach. It offers great nutrition and it is perfectly safe (and even health promoting) when provided in moderation. However, spinach should be offered raw and never in its frozen state.
Ultimately, spinach is nutrient dense, low in calories, fat and can support the health of a Guinea Pig. But, we must recognize and consider that these rodents are prone to Bladder Stones, and therefore calcium and oxalates must be managed and controlled in the diet.
Therefore, spinach should be fed as a treat, in moderation. This will provide all the benefits while nullifying the risks.
For the most part, Guinea Pigs thrive on a high quality and optimized pelleted diet.
This is my go to brand that is available for a great price over at Amazon. It provides all the vitamins and minerals a Guinea Pig needs. Then mixing in some infrequent treats, like spinach, in moderation will ensure your pet thrives in your care.