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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cauliflower? What You Need to Know!

Ed Malaker

May 24, 2021

Cauliflower is a popular vegetable, and if you have a guinea pig and are wondering if it’s ok to feed It to your pet, the short answer is yes, your guinea pig can eat all parts of the cauliflower plant. Still, there are several things to consider before making it a regular part of their diet. We are going to go over the nutritional value to let you know the good details and bad, so you will learn how much and how often it is safe to feed your pet cauliflower.

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Is cauliflower bad for guinea pigs?

Red Guinea Pig eating Bamboo_Joline Greim_shutterstock
Credit: Bamboo Joline Greim, Shutterstock

Cauliflower has several nutritional benefits, but there are a few things you should know about it before you make it part of their daily diet.

Calcium and phosphorus

While guinea pigs need some calcium in their diet, their bodies can absorb the calcium better than we can. Humans typically absorb about 30% of the calcium they consume, while guinea pigs can absorb 50% from their food. Too much calcium in the diet can lead to bladder stones in your pet, which you will need to remove surgically. While there are plenty of foods with more calcium than cauliflower, it’s best to limit it to an occasional treat to prevent these stones from forming.

Pesticides

Another problem with cauliflower is it is highly susceptible to insect damage. Farmers often use strong pesticides to keep the crop from being destroyed. You will need to wash your cauliflower vigorously to make sure you remove the pesticides from the plant. The small body size of the hamster makes them especially susceptible to these poisons. It will be slightly easier to remove the pesticides from the leafy greens so that part of the plant is somewhat better.

Can cause gas and bloating

The leafy greens and the plant’s fruit can cause bloating and gas in your guinea pig, leading to diarrhea.  Most experts recommend providing a smaller portion the first few times and watching your pet for signs of diarrhea or discomfort. If these signs are present, it’s better to avoid this food. However, if they don’t have any problems, you can increase the amount to a full portion.

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Is cauliflower good for guinea pigs?

Cauliflower has plenty of nutrients that are beneficial to guinea pigs, and we’ll look at those in this section.

Fiber

Fiber is important for your guinea pig to maintain a balanced digestive system. While your pet will get the majority of the fiber they need from the timothy hay they eat, foods with a high fiber content are also preferred.

Vitamin C

Guinea pigs, like humans, cannot make vitamin C in the body, so we must eat foods that contain it. Vitamin C is essential to the proper development of the skin and joints and is also important for healing wounds.  Vitamin C boosts the immune system and will help defend the body from future illnesses. Experts recommend 10–50 mg. per day, and 3.5 ounces of cauliflower provides a little over 48 mg making it an excellent source.

Other Nutrients

There are plenty of other nutrients like zinc, Vitamins B6 and K, niacin, and potassium that can help your guinea pig grow and stay healthy. Vitamin K will help with blood clotting, and too little can lead to excessive bleeding. B vitamins will help your pet have more energy to stay active, which will help with weight control.

Low Sugar

Cauliflower is low in sugar, so it won’t contribute to weight gain. Obesity is a major concern for guinea pigs, and it can lead to significant health concerns, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, gastrointestinal stasis, and more. Foods like cauliflower can provide your pet with a tasty treat that’s also healthy.

Omega Fats

Omega fats can help produce a softer, shinier coat on your guinea pig, and it also helps the skin stay hydrated. Some studies show that adding omega fats to your pet’s diet can help slow or even prevent the spread of osteoarthritis, a common ailment of older guinea pigs. Omega fats can also help with heart health and joint pain.

Water

The cauliflower is almost 80% water, so it’s a great food for hydrating your pet, especially if it’s not drinking as much as it should. However, adding too much water to the diet can lead to diarrhea.

A guinea pig running around in the garden_theianov_Shutterstock
Image Credit: theianov, Shutterstock

How should I feed my guinea pig cauliflower?

You will need to wash the cauliflower well to get rid of any pesticides that may still be on it. We also recommend serving your vegetables raw because cooking them can remove some of the important nutrients. It can also increase the water content, and guinea pigs prefer to chew on harder foods to wear down their always-growing teeth. Boiling it will make them soft.

We recommend starting with a half portion or ½-inch of cauliflower to see how your pet reacts. If you notice any signs of discomfort, gas, or diarrhea, you will need to eliminate this food from their diet, but if you don’t see any symptoms, you should increase it to a full serving of one inch. It would be best to feed the leafy greens on one day and the fruit part on another. You should only feed cauliflower once or twice a week to make sure they are not getting too much calcium.

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Summary

Cauliflower can make a healthy treat that your pet can enjoy once or twice a week. It’s low in sugar and contains several beneficial nutrients that can help your guinea pig maintain a healthy weight. Mixing these foods with others can help create a nutrient salad that your pet can enjoy on occasion. We hope you have found the answers to any questions you needed and found this guide helpful. If we have put your mind at ease about feeding your pet this food, please share this guide to feeding your guinea pig cauliflower on Facebook and Twitter.

Find out more about food safety for your guinea pig:


Featured Image Credit: Irene Kredenets, Unsplash

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.