Here we will discuss if guinea pigs can eat dates as a part of a healthy diet and as alternatives to their daily diet.
As guinea pig parents, it’s important to know how to take proper care of your small animals and understand what they can and can’t have in their diet.
Can guinea pigs eat dates?
Dates really shouldn’t be a part of your guinea pig’s diet. Dates have a lot of sugar; even if it’s natural sugar, high sugar content is not necessary for their diet.
Sugar does not provide them any real health benefits (aside from the potassium, which they can get elsewhere), so it’s best to skip over the dates.
Can dates be given to guinea pigs as a special treat?
Yes, in very small amounts as an occasional treat, but there are much better options that will help aid your guinea pig’s diet and still be a treat to them while providing them with essential nutrients they need.
If you give your guinea pigs large quantities of sugary things daily, your guinea pig may develop diabetes or weight gain, which isn’t healthy for them and can lead to more health problems.
Here’s a breakdown of 1 Medjool date’s nutritional value.
- calories: 66.5
- carbs- 18 grams (g)
- sugars- 16 g
- protein- 0.4 g
- dietary fiber-1.6 g 1
- potassium- 67 milligrams (mg)
- calcium- 15.4 mg
- phosphorus- 14.9 mg
- magnesium 13 mg
- iron-0.216 mg
As you can see, one Medjool date is mostly sugar at 16 grams; when you’re only two pounds, that is too much sugar in your guinea pig’s diet.
What are the best fruit treats for your guinea pigs?
- Kiwi Fruit
These fresh fruits should only be served in limited quantities due to having lots of sugar, even if it’s natural. Daily fruit serving – 1/2 to 1 tsp daily, but it’s not needed every day, and recommended to only do this a couple of times a week for good health.
When feeding treats, pay attention to if your guinea pig is gaining weight, then, cut back on the fruit.
It’s important as a guinea pig owner to understand the needs of your pet’s diet.
The best diet for a pet guinea pig consists of pellets enriched with vitamin c, good quality hay, fresh food like fresh vegetables (leafy greens), and limited fresh fruit.
Vitamin C supplementation is crucial for the health of guinea pigs as well. They, just like humans, are unable to produce their own vitamin c, so they need to have a supplement daily.
What can happen if guinea pigs don’t get enough vitamin C?
They, just like humans, can get Scurvy.
Scurvy can be a life-threatening disease for your guinea pig and should be avoided easily by supplements. Cavies, unlike the majority of other mammals, lack the L-gluconolactone oxidase enzyme that you would need to turn glucose in the body to vitamin C.
This is what makes it so vital for them to have a lot of vitamin c. You do not need to worry about overdosing your Cavy with too much vitamin c because they will urinate the excess out.
What are the symptoms of scurvy in your guinea pig?
- weight loss
- loss of energy
- rough coat
If you are concerned about your guinea pig, you should seek professional help from a veterinarian.
What’s the best way to provide vitamin c supplements to your guinea pig?
The majority of good commercial guinea pig food is supplemented with vitamin C. However, it does lose its potency, so it’s important to keep their food fresh and read the labels on the food for how long the vitamin C will be good for. Store the pellet food in a dark, dry place to help slow down vitamin c degradation or loss of potency.
It is a good idea to feed Cavies vegetables with a high amount of vitamin c naturally.
Vegetables with high amounts of vitamin c include-
- red and green pepper
Adult guinea pigs should be eating around 1 cup of vegetables a day with various veggies listed above.
How much vitamin C do they need?
Cavies need 5 mg of vitamin c per pound of weight.
That increases to 15 mg of vitamin c per pound when pregnant.
How many guinea pig pellets do they need in a day?
It would be best to refer to the back of the food container; however, this amount is typically 1/8 to 1/4 cup of pellets split between a morning and evening feeding, which equals out to be roughly 2 TB twice a day.
Hay is another essential thing to remember when feeding your guinea pig.
Hay is crucial for keeping guinea pigs’ digestive systems moving. It helps provide the fiber they need and maintains their teeth by grinding them down since their teeth are consistently growing.
It’s important only to feed your cavy hay that is meant for animal consumption from a reputable source. Hay can have all sorts of yucky things lurking in it like; mold, pesticides, parasites, hard dirt, rocks, etc.
Different types of hay have different purposes for feeding your guinea pig.
All hay will have some amounts of fiber, fat, and protein, and it’s important that you pay attention to which hay you’re feeding them because some should not be given daily.
What are some common guinea pig hays?
- Timothy hay– this is excellent everyday hay; it has the perfect amount of fiber, fat and protein for your guinea pig to munch on all day long.
- Orchard Hay– is similar to Timothy hay and is a great daily source of nutrients.
- Alfalfa hay– should only be used once a week if at all. This type of hay is higher in calcium and can cause kidney stones.
There are many more hay options; these are just the highlights.
Your guinea pig should have an unlimited amount of hay to eat at all times.
If you want some more information on guinea pig hay check out this article.
It’s important when introducing new foods to your guinea pig’s diet that you start with small quantities and monitor their poop to make sure they don’t have any adverse reactions. Similar to when you are introducing a baby to solid food and are looking for any reactions. Guinea pigs have a very sensitive digestive tract that can be upset easily if not taken into proper consideration.
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