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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweet Potatoes? What You Need to Know!
Sweet potatoes are often considered a superfood in the human diet, and they are praised for their health benefits and abundance of vitamins and minerals. Because they’re so healthy for us, we often wonder if they are safe for our guinea pigs. The short answer is, yes, sweet potato is safe to feed your guinea pig in moderation. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about the health benefits and potential risks of giving sweet potatoes to your guinea pig below so you can incorporate this delicious treat into their diet safely.
Why Would I Feed My Guinea Pig Sweet Potato?
Just like the vitamins and minerals in sweet potatoes are good for humans, they offer some health benefits to guinea pigs as well. Most notably, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C and potassium, both of which are beneficial in guinea pig diets.
Sweet potatoes contain around 3mg of vitamin C per 100g, and while this isn’t the best source of the vitamin, it is a tasty one! Guinea pigs, like humans, are unable to synthesize vitamin C naturally, so they need to get the necessary amount from their diets alone. According to pet health experts at PDSA.org, guinea pigs can experience severe illness if they don’t get the necessary amount of vitamin C each day. Sweet potato can help reach that amount in a tasty way.
Guinea pig lovers at Guinea Pig Tube also note that potassium is beneficial for guinea pigs, as it helps promote heart health and good blood pressure. Sweet potatoes carry a high amount of potassium, so your guinea pig can snack happily on sweet potato while maintaining heart health!
Lastly, sweet potatoes are delicious and slightly sweet, so your guinea pig is bound to love them without consuming too much sugar.
Are There Other Risks Involved?
No food is perfect, and there are some drawbacks to giving your guinea pig sweet potato.
The first concern, especially given the name of the food itself, is the sugar content. Pet experts at Petco warn that you should avoid foods high in sugar, as they can be unhealthy for guinea pigs. Sweet potato isn’t nearly as high in sugar content as most fruits, but even the low amount of sugar means sweet potato should be given to your pig as an occasional treat and not as a part of their regular diet.
Another concern with feeding your guinea pig sweet potato is the number of oxalates found in the vegetable. Oxalates are naturally found in many foods, and research from North Carolina State University’s Veterinary Medicine experts suggest that oxalates in high concentration can cause kidney problems and other complications in guinea pigs.
Sweet potatoes aren’t perfectly healthy for your guinea pig, but in moderation, the small amount of sugar and oxalates won’t present an issue for your pet.
How Can I Feed My Guinea Pig Sweet Potato?
If you do decide to offer your guinea pig some delicious sweet potato as a treat from time to time, frequency and serving size are both keys! According to the Humane Society, sweet potato can be offered to your pig about one to two times a week, and you should limit your little guy to just a chunk or two measuring about a half-inch by half-inch.
Humans always cook potatoes before eating them, but guinea pigs love uncooked food and get more nutritional benefit from it served raw. Simply peel the sweet potato, cut into small cubes, and offer it to your little guy with other vegetables or as a standalone treat.
We also tend to eat our sweet potatoes with butter and salt, but these can be dangerous and are generally unhealthy for guinea pigs. They will be happy with just a raw, unseasoned cube of sweet potato to crunch on.
Anything Else to Consider?
Yes! There’s a very important distinction to be made between sweet potatoes and other kinds of potatoes like russet, white, and red potatoes. While sweet potatoes are safe for your guinea pig in moderation, other types of potatoes contain toxins and can be detrimental to your pet’s health, according to pet experts at Exotic Direct.
The Bottom Line
Sweet potato can be a great snack for your guinea pig, as the superfood offers essential vitamins and minerals, and an irresistible crunch. However, it needs to be offered in moderation, as the sugar content and number of oxalates can cause complications if offered in high amounts. Offer a small cube or two to your little guy once or twice a week, always serve it raw, and never season the sweet potato before giving it to your pig. Lastly, sweet potatoes are fine in moderation, but never offer other kinds of potatoes.
Featured Image Credit: Llez, Wikimedia Commons
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.