If you are wondering if your guinea pig can eat raisins, you’ve come to the right place! The short answer is yes, they can, but no, they shouldn’t. Chances are that your guinea will love raisins and for good reason. They are soft, chewy, and sweet, all the perfect characteristics of an ideal snack!
But like all food, just because raisins are delicious, that does not mean Guinea pigs should eat them, and this is especially true if you are your pet’s sole provider of nutrition. Raisins are extremely high in sugar, which is not only not digested well by guineas, but it is not good for their teeth either. This is not to say that the occasional raisin will be overly detrimental to your guinea’s health, but many other treats can provide the small amounts of benefits that raisins will, without the negative consequences.
Below, we’ll dig a little deeper into this popular sweet treat and find out exactly why your guineas should not eat them.
The Natural Diet of Guineas
Guineas in the wild live mostly on grass, leaves, and flowers and will only occasionally eat fruits and vegetables. Timothy hay is the most common food for both wild and captive guineas, and this fibrous grass should make up a large percentage of their regular diet. It contains the essential fiber and roughage that they need for healthy digestion. Guinea’s teeth never stop growing, and they must have the required roughage to keep them trim.
Health Risks of Feeding Raisins to Guineas
While the odd raisin now and then may not be deadly to your guinea, there are several good reasons to avoid them altogether.
Sugar- While guineas can safely eat fresh grapes on occasion, raisins are much higher in sugar content. The drying process compounds the sugar in grapes, making them between 67% and 72% sugar by weight. This sugar can lead to rapid weight gain in your guinea, which can cascade into many other health problems, including diabetes.
Digestion- Guineas have a highly sensitive digestive tract as it is, and they cannot easily digest the sugars in raisins. These excess sugars can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, loose stool, and painful cramps.
Calcium- While small amounts of calcium are essential for the health of your guinea’s teeth and bones, excess calcium can cause issues like urinary tract infections and bladder and kidney stones. The added calcium they’ll get from raisins may lead to a few of these disorders.
Dental Issues- Raisins are sweet, sticky, and chewy — a perfect recipe for dental issues. They can easily get stuck in your guinea’s teeth and quickly cause tooth decay and gum disease. This, combined with the high sugar content in raisins and the fact that your guinea will most likely not have a toothbrush handy, has a cascading effect toward dental disease.
Do Raisins Have Any Health Benefits for Guineas?
The occasional raisin treat — think one or two small raisins a week — will not cause much harm for your guinea and may have small benefits.
Vitamin C- Guineas cannot make their own vitamin C and need to obtain it from external sources. Without it, they can get scurvy, which is fairly common in captive guineas. Raisins have this essential vitamin, so raisins can be a potential benefit.
Fiber- Guinea pigs need a diet that is high in fiber, and raisins contain dietary fiber content.
Iron- Raisins contain iron, which helps keep your guinea’s blood healthy and prevents the risk of anemia.
While raisins have a few small benefits, they can gain all these and more from other safer, healthier alternatives.
What If Your Guinea eats Raisins?
Guineas love raisins, which leads many owners to feed them freely to their guineas. Long term, this can have a cascading effect on their health. However, the occasional raisin will likely not cause much harm to your guinea. While we recommend not giving them raisins or any other dried fruit at all for that matter, one or two raisins a week as a treat should be fine.
Raisins may not be deadly to your guinea in small amounts, but if eaten regularly, they can quickly cause serious health issues for your beloved pet. Weight gain and tooth decay are just a few problems they may experience when given too much of this sweet treat.
So, while guineas can eat raisins, they probably shouldn’t.
Featured Image Credit: gregroose, pixabay