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Home > General > Can Guinea Pigs Eat Nuts? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Nuts? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info


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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

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

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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.

pecan nuts
Image Credit: baileynorwood, Pixabay

1. Allergies

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.

When people talk about a food allergy in pets, they’re usually referring to an intolerance, not a true allergy. Such intolerances usually result in itching, loss of fur, and an upset stomach. Usually, these side effects clear up as long as they are minor and the ingredient is removed from the pet’s diet.

However, a true allergic reaction can be severe and require vet attention. Such a reaction usually entails extreme swelling and difficulty breathing. Fortunately, true allergies are rarely documented in guinea pigs.

2. Bladder Stones

Many nuts are high in calcium. A diet high in calcium can contribute to the formation of bladder stones, which is painful and requires veterinary care. Guinea pigs need to be on a diet with the correct amount of calcium and phosphorus (as the ratio of these minerals is vital).

3. Digestion Problems

The most common side effect 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.

4. Obesity

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 liver, which can cause hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver).

Credit: heecehil, Pixabay


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 required for a guinea pig’s diet. They are also high in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium. However, hay generally contains more fiber than nuts do, and the minerals themselves aren’t meaningful if they’re not in the correct proportions. In addition, no precise quantitative requirement for selenium has been determined in guinea pigs, so this nutrient’s availability in nuts isn’t necessarily a justifiable reason to offer them to your guinea pig.

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 the roasted form of nuts.

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, it’s still very high in fat, which is not what your guinea pig needs in the least. Peanut butter is also sticky, potentially serving as 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, you should focus on beneficial foods.



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 few benefits to feeding nuts to your pet and many potential downsides.

The risk just isn’t worth it. Your guinea pig should be eating mostly timothy, orchard, grass, and oat hay, fortified pellets, and a daily serving of safe-to-eat vegetables, which leaves little room for unnecessary foods like nuts.

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Featured Image Credit: ExplorerBob, Pixabay

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