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Home > Guinea Pigs > Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheerios? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheerios? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheerios

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Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

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

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Guinea pigs require a very specific diet, one you should know all about before owning one. These herbivores will mostly eat hay but also need veggies to supplement and the occasional pellets. There are plenty of food items a guinea pig should avoid, though, some of which might surprise you.

One popular food pet parents often consider as a treat for their guinea pigs is Cheerios. But can guinea pigs eat Cheerios? The answer is no, guinea pigs shouldn’t eat cheerios! Even if you’re only feeding plain Cheerios to your pet, rather than Honey Nut, Multi-Grain, or other flavors, this cereal is still highly unhealthy for your pet. That’s not to say this food is toxic or that if your guinea pig has one or two Cheerios, it will be in trouble. But incorporating Cheerios into your pet’s diet as a treat long-term can lead to health issues.


The Trouble With Cheerios

What Makes Cheerios Unhealthy For Our Guinea Pigs?

First and foremost, Cheerios is made from grains, no matter what flavor you go with. And a guinea pig’s digestive system isn’t built to handle grains and starches as well as ours. That means eating an overabundance of Cheerios could lead to digestive issues in your pet, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, and gas.

Cheerios also contain 130 mg of calcium in a single cup, which could be too much for your guinea pig. While calcium is an essential part of a guinea pig’s diet, these animals are prone to bladder stones, which are formed from calcium oxalate. So, the more calcium in your pet’s diet, the more likely they are to develop bladder stones (which often require surgery to remove).

This cereal is also processed, meaning it has preservatives, additives, sugar, and more, which could be unhealthy for your guinea pig. These things could lead to obesity and inflammation in the body, which in turn can lead to health issues such as cardiovascular disease.

And, though Cheerios are small, they could still pose a choking risk for your guinea pig.

Most importantly, you shouldn’t feed your guinea pig any cereals. Cereals, bread, and crackers may contribute to an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the intestines, and these bad bacteria can lead to enterotoxemia. Enterotoxemia can result in diarrhea, anorexia, and lethargy, all of which you want to avoid in your pet.

close up image of a bowl of cereal with cereal spilled on the table surface
Image Credit: Pam Walker, Shutterstock

What Can My Guinea Pig Eat for a Treat Instead?

As you can see, Cheerios definitely isn’t the healthiest food for your guinea pig! Treats, in general, aren’t that great for your pet because they only offer them empty calories and no nutrition. But we understand wanting to let your pet have a bit of something tasty every now and then. So, what can you give your guinea pig as a treat instead of Cheerios?

Fruit is one treat you can give your pet. Some fruits that are guinea pig-safe and that these animals typically enjoy include:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pineapple

You may also want to try giving your pet some alfalfa cubes, as some guinea pigs are fans of those.

However, the majority of what your guinea pig will need to eat will be hay (which they should have access to at all hours of the day, as these animals need to constantly eat). You’ll also want to add vegetables to supplement your pet’s hay diet. Your pet should have half to a full cup of veggies a day.

Some guinea pig-safe veggies include:
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Dandelion greens
  • Parsley

Finally, you’ll want to add in some guinea pig-specific pellets every once in a while.


What Other Foods Should Guinea Pigs Not Eat?

There are plenty more foods you should avoid giving your guinea pig, as well.

Just a few of these include:

  • High-starch foods other than cereal, like beans, peas, and corn
  • Pellets not specifically made for guinea pigs
  • Any meat product
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Multivitamins

Then, there are foods your guinea pig can have but only once in a blue moon.

These include:

  • Greens that are high oxalate, such as spinach, collards, and chard (as they, too, can cause bladder stones to form)
  • Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, etc.)
  • Commercial guinea pig treats
guinea pig eating basil
Image Credit: TJ Images, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

When it comes to guinea pigs and Cheerios, it’s best to avoid giving your pet this cereal (or any cereal). Cheerios can cause stomach upset and possibly even bladder stones or enterotoxemia. Instead, feed your guinea pig safe treats (but only sparingly!) such as fruit or alfalfa cubes. However, keep in mind that, for the most part, your guinea pig will be healthier (and happier!) with its natural diet of hay.

Featured Image Credit: images72, Shutterstock

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