If you are looking at new potential treat options for your guinea pig, you may be wondering if peanut butter is a good option. Can they eat it, is it going to be a healthy or safe food to consume for them? I decided to conduct some research into the topic. I would like to present this information here to you today.
So, can guinea pigs have peanut butter? It is not recommended that you feed peanut butter to your guinea pig. Peanut butter is high in fat, salt, and calories; all of which do not promote good health in guinea pigs nor can their digestive systems handle them. In fact, guinea pigs should also not eat whole nuts either for the same reasons.
Let us now take a closer look at the topic including the health benefits and risks of your guinea pig consuming peanut butter along with some other related questions like are nuts a good alternative.
Health Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Peanut Butter
Unfortunately, there are no tangible health benefits if your guinea pig was to consume peanut butter. If the sheer taste and experience count as a benefit, then this would have to be the only one.
That being said, it would be very difficult to feed due to the texture and consistency of peanut butter. It would also be complex to calculate the amount that should be fed, as even a small teaspoon packs a lot of fat and calories even for us humans.
This is a further reason why it should not be fed to your cavies.
Peanut butter carries a lot of ingredients that will damage and disrupt the normal digestion of your guinea pig, along with increasing their weight and place an extra burden on their stomachs, urinary tracts, and bowel movements.
Guinea pigs are not used to nor can handle high-fat foods, particularly if they are in the processed state like peanut butter is.
Nutritional Composition of Peanut Butter
Now that we know that peanut butter is not a suitable food for guinea pigs, even as a treat, its good to look at why this is the case.
Peanut butter is a food paste or spread that is mostly made up of ground dry-roasted peanuts. But that’s not all that it contains.
Typically, it has additional ingredients that modify the taste or texture. These include salt, sugar, and/or emulsifiers.
We can clearly see when reviewing the nutritional composition of peanut butter that it is not a suitable nor preferable diet addition:
There are 588 calories in 100 grams of peanut butter. While this may seem like a large serving, consider that this is typically a quarter of a standard jar.
Even one tablespoon (14g) is 44 calories.
For your cavy this is a lot!
If you were to routinely feed peanut butter to your guinea pigs you would be dramatically increasing the number of calories they consume and thus would likely notice weight gain.
Extra weight is problematic for guinea pigs for multiple reasons. One of which is the extra burden on their system and weight on their fragile frame.
Peanut butter is predominantly made up of fat (50g of fat per 100g of peanut butter/7g per tablespoon).
It is derived from peanuts which contain a lot of fat, to begin with. A lot of peanut butter brands also add additional fat for flavor, taste, and texture.
Guinea pigs cannot handle much fat in their diet and it is known to cause digestive distress which leads to diarrhea and dehydration.
Carbohydrate and Sugar
There are 20 g of carbs with 9g of which coming from sugar in 100g of peanut butter.
Again, taking a tablespoon quantity, it’s still 3g of carbohydrates and 1g of sugar respectively.
While this can provide humans with the energy it’s too much for a guinea pig to consume, process, and handle.
Protein is equally high, 25g of protein in 100g of peanut butter and 4g in a tablespoon.
Too much salt in a guinea pigs diet can lead to negative health outcomes including bladder and/or kidney stones.
This is why salt licks are not recommended nor do you see guinea pig owners buying and using them.
Salt is naturally high and is an added ingredient of peanut butter so you would do best to avoid feeding it to your cavy.
Risks to Consider When Feeding Peanut Butter To Guinea Pigs
Now that we have looked at the nutritional content of peanut butter, within different serving contexts, let us now further explore some of the negative health complications that could arise from persistent feeding of peanut butter whether too frequently or too high a quantity.
Remember, for the most part, this is not a food that you should be feeding to your guinea pigs. Even as a treat.
With a lot of great and affordable treats on Amazon, it is not something that you should need to ever feed.
As mentioned above, peanut butter is very caloric.
Due to the fact that it is a spread, it is even easier to consume. For guinea pigs, this dramatically increases their chances of gaining weight – both in the short realm of time and also in the long run.
The high-fat content will also likely deposit around organs, block blood vessels, and generally make your guinea pig more lethargic and fatigued.
Peanut butter can cause a lot of digestive problems and this is all due to the three components it contains – fibers, fats and sugars.
While fiber should be high in a guinea pigs diet, it should come through hay and other vegetables.
This is because guinea pigs require both digestible and indigestible fiber yet peanut butter only provides one of these. This imbalance can lead to loose stools, gas, and stomach pain which can be fatal.
Secondly, the fat present within peanut butter is of a significant amount. This is a lot for your guinea pig to process, especially because they are not used to it and their digestive system was not designed to process it, to begin with.
Finally, sugar is known to disrupt a guinea pig’s digestive system and peanut butter contains a lot more than you would think.
Peanut butter contains 6mg of calcium per tablespoon (14g). While this doesn’t sound like much, it is a lot for a guinea pig.
Calcium needs to be very carefully managed and regulated as it can lead to a lot of serious health implications in elder guinea pigs.
While it’s put to use while your guinea pig is a pup, in their elder years it builds up within their urinary tract.
This can lead to painful and problematic bladder and/or kidney stones, urinary infections, pain during urination, and sometimes blood in the urine.
This requires treatment and if left diagnosed can result in renal failure.
How To Ensure Optimal Digestion For Your Guinea Pig
Guinea Pigs require a healthy, wholesome and well-designed diet to ensure their digestive system operates efficiently, they are free from disease and are healthy and happy.
It’s essential that you provide an abundance of fresh timothy hay every day, and always ensure that your guinea pig is eating enough high-quality fiber.
They cannot go long without it and its serves multiple purposes for them.
Regarding their pellet and other diet feed, be sure to avoid a lot of the commercial brands that use a lot of poor-quality seeds and nuts within their feed.
While it is usually labeled for guinea pigs and other rodents, it’s not the kind of food that your guinea pig will ultimately thrive on.
There are a lot of very satisfied guinea pig owners who swear by the Pet Select Brand when it comes to Hay and Pellet Feed.
It’s a brand that focuses on the freshness of its products and who carefully source and store them prior to sale. So, I would thoroughly recommend that you check them out!
Guinea pigs cannot and shouldn’t eat nuts. They are unable to digest and process the high-fat content present. Equally nuts pose a choking hazard as guinea pigs are incapable of breaking them up sufficiently.
Guinea pigs cannot eat monkey nuts. This naturally follows the fact that guinea pigs cannot eat any other types of nut.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.