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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Nuts? What You Need To Know!
Nuts are a very nutritious snack for humans. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are suitable for guinea pigs. Nuts are high in carbohydrates and fat, while guinea pigs do best on a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. For this reason, nuts aren’t best for guinea pigs.
It isn’t that they are toxic. They just don’t fit properly into a guinea pig’s diet. One nibble isn’t going to do anything, but they should be avoided in high quantities. Generally, we recommend avoiding them altogether. They don’t offer much benefit to your guinea pig, and there are plenty of better options out there for your pet.
Why Shouldn’t Guinea Pigs Eat Nuts?
Nuts aren’t toxic or poisonous to guinea pigs, but that doesn’t mean they should eat them in large quantities. Feeding your guinea pig too many nuts and similar foods can cause health problems, as they don’t line up with what a guinea pig is supposed to be eating. They are designed to be grazers, and nuts don’t fit into that category.
Guinea pigs are not made to digest the rich fats and salt that nuts have. This can cause digestive problems, like diarrhea. This can also cause quite serious gastrointestinal upset for guinea pigs and can also be a pain to clean up.
Like some humans, guinea pigs can also be allergic to nuts. Allergic reactions are rare, as most guinea pigs are not given nuts. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that allergies are rare—just that most guinea pigs never eat enough nuts for the allergies to flare up.
Allergies can cause breathing difficulties and itching. Usually, these clear up as long as they are minor. However, some reactions can be severe, which requires vet attention.
Many nuts are high in calcium. Guinea pigs cannot process the excess calcium, so it may end up accumulating in the kidneys and bladder. This can result in stones, which can be very painful. Guinea pigs need to be on a low-calcium diet, not a high-calcium one.
On top of bladder stones, the excess calcium can also cause other issues. The stones can lead to recurrent urinary tract problems, blood in the urine, and urinary pain. Eventually, they can even cause kidney failure if they go untreated.
The most common symptom of eating nuts is digestive problems. This is because they are full of fats, which guinea pigs are not designed to handle. This can disrupt their digestive tract, which can lead to further discomfort even after you stop feeding the nuts.
Nuts may also contain sugars and salts, which can further cause digestive upset.
Because of the excess fat, your guinea pig may put on a bit too much weight as a result of being fed nuts. Nuts are very calorie-dense, while a guinea pig’s regular food is not. Therefore, it is easy for them to overeat nuts and put on extra weight.
The fat can also accumulate in their bloodstream, which can cause heart problems and exhaustion.
Are Nuts At All Beneficial for Guinea Pigs?
There are a few nutrients nuts contain that are beneficial to guinea pigs. For instance, nuts contain fiber, which is perfect for a guinea pig’s diet. They are also high in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.
When roasted, some of the fats in nuts are lowered, which may make them more appropriate for guinea pigs. However, they are still higher in fat than most guineas need, which is why we don’t recommend even their roasted form.
Nuts are not particularly beneficial. Their health benefits do not outweigh the potential dangers of feeding them to your guinea pig.
What About Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is made primarily out of peanuts, though it depends on the brand. However, peanut butter is still very high in fat, which is not what your guinea pig needs in the least. Peanut butter is also very sticky, potentially a choking hazard for an animal as small as the guinea pig.
There is no benefit to peanut butter, so you shouldn’t be feeding your guinea pig the extra calories. Instead, focus on beneficial foods.
Are Nuts Ever A Good Option For Guinea Pigs?
Not really. You should never intentionally feed your guinea pig nuts of any sort, including things derived from nuts like peanut butter and peanut shells. There are very few benefits to feeding your pet nuts and many potential downsides.
The risk just isn’t worth it. Your guinea pig should be eating most Timothy hay and fortified pellets, which leaves very little room for unnecessary foods like nuts.
Related Read: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Rabbit Food? What You Need To Know!
Featured image credit: ExplorerBob, Pixabay
Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!