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Home > Guinea Pigs > Can Guinea Pigs Eat Catnip? Vet-Reviewed Health Facts

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Catnip? Vet-Reviewed Health Facts

fresh and dried catnip

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Guinea pigs love eating different fruits, veggies, and herbs, and because of this, you might think that catnip is an excellent choice for them. However, unlike most other herbs which are perfectly safe for them, catnip is not a good choice for guinea pigs.

There simply isn’t enough information out there about catnip and guinea pigs, but it’s possible that catnip can lead to digestive problems for your pocket piggie.


What Can Happen if Your Guinea Pig Eats Catnip?

Most of the time guinea pigs will stay away from catnip on their own because they don’t like the smell. If they do happen to eat some catnip, there are some things you need to keep an eye out for.

Some sources claim that feeding your guinea pig catnip can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, or other digestive problems, but there isn’t a ton of information out there to back this up. Even with these limited sources, it’s better to play it safe and avoid giving your guinea pig catnip.

Peruvian Guinea Pig with long hair on Wood
Image by: Pongpat Thongwattanaporn, Shutterstock

When to Take Your Guinea Pig to the Vet

If your guinea pig does happen to eat some catnip, you’ll want to monitor their behavior for a day or two. If they start displaying signs of digestive problems, go ahead and take your guinea pig to the vet right away so they can get the necessary treatment.

You also might want to take your guinea pig to the vet immediately if they eat a lot of catnip, but this is a precautionary measure.


The 7 Things You Should Feed Your Guinea Pig

While you shouldn’t feed your guinea pig catnip, there are plenty of other types of foods you can give them. We’ve highlighted some foods you should make a staple of your guinea pig’s diet here. As a general guideline, guinea pigs diet should be made up of about 80% high quality hay, 15% fresh vegetables, and 5% commercial pellets.

Guinea Pigs eating a bowl of treat
Image Credit: Rachel Lambert, Shutterstock

1. Guinea Pig Pellets

While you might think you can come up with a completely natural diet that meets all your guinea pig’s nutritional needs, this is extremely hard to do. This is why it is recommended to feed your guinea pig commercial pellets as a small part of their diet.

These pellets ensure your guinea pig gets all of the essential nutrients, including vitamin C.

2. Timothy Hay

Timothy hay is an important staple of your guinea pig’s diet and they should have constant access to it. Not only does it provide a great source of fiber to boost digestive health, it also helps wear down a guinea pig’s ever-growing teeth.

3. Kale

Leafy greens should make up the majority of your guinea pig’s diet, and the darker the greens, the better. Kale is full of dark leafy greens and has plenty of beneficial nutrients for your guinea pig.

4. Parsley

While you don’t want to feed your guinea pig catnip, parsley is a great herb you can feed them on occasion. Chances are they likely won’t be able to get enough of the green stuff, but you do want to limit the quantities and frequency.

freshly picked curly parsley from the garden on the old wooden table
Image by: LenaProkopenko, Shutterstock

5. Red and Green Leaf Lettuce

Dark leafy greens are great for your guinea pig, and some of the easiest and most affordable to pick up are red and green leaf lettuce. The darker the lettuce leaves, the better it is for your pig. Avoid iceberg lettuce as the high water content can contribute to diarrhea.

6. Bell Peppers

Red and green bell peppers have lots of vitamin C and are a great treat you can add to your guinea pig’s diet. It shouldn’t make up the majority of their diet, but mixing in small chunks with the rest of their food is a great idea.

7. Tomatoes

Ripe tomatoes make a great sweet treat for your guinea pig once or twice a week. Guinea pigs will love the taste, just don’t overdo it because too much can cause digestive issues and may contribute to cheilitis, sore lips.

fresh ripe cherry tomatoes
Image by: ignartonosbg, Pixabay


Final Thoughts

While catnip shouldn’t be part of your guinea pig’s diet, there’s a place for other herbs, vegetables and fruits. Guinea pigs love variety, so the more you mix things up, the happier they’ll be.

Just ensure you’re still giving them plenty of timothy hay and a few commercial pellets so you’re meeting all their nutritional needs even as you mix up their diet!

Featured Image Credit: Gaston Cerliani, Shutterstock

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