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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes? What You Need To Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

March 12, 2021

Guinea pigs can safely eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. As a loving pet owner, you probably enjoy feeding your guinea pig a diverse array of foods and treats when possible. For many of us, tomatoes make a tasty treat to top burgers and salads or even eat whole. If your guinea pig is eyeing your tomatoes hungrily, go ahead and let it have a little, but not too much.

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How Much Tomato Can I Feed My Guinea Pig?

Tomatoes are safe for guinea pigs, and even beneficial, in small amounts. But if you feed too much to your furry friend, it can have the reverse effect. It can be too much of a good thing.

Feed your guinea pig too much tomato and mouth sores are likely to develop. You could also cause diarrhea in your cavy.

One cherry tomato is about the right size for a serving of tomato for a guinea pig. If you’re feeding them a regular tomato, you’re looking for a chunk that’s about an inch each way.

How Often Can A Guinea Pig Eat Tomato?

Though tomatoes are great for guinea pigs in small amounts as a treat, they’re not a great bet for daily snacking.

Instead, you’d be better off giving it to your guinea pig every other day or a few times a week. This way, they’d still get the nutritional benefits, without risking painful side effects.

guinea pig eating tomato
Image Credit: Zoe-bg, Shutetrstock

What Kind Of Tomatoes Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

Whatever type of tomato you are eating is perfectly safe to share with your guinea pig. The key is to make sure that the tomato is completely ripe.

Never give your guinea pig a tomato that’s not completely ripe and red. Also, be sure to limit the amount you feed them to about a one-inch cube, regardless of what type of tomato you’re offering.

Is It Safe For A Guinea Pig To Eat All Parts Of A Tomato?

The only part of the tomato that’s safe for a guinea pig to eat is the fully ripened red flesh of the fruit. You don’t want to feed your guinea pig anything green. No leaves, stems, or unripe tomatoes.

The green parts of the tomato plant are full of tomatine, a glycoalkaloid poison. It doesn’t have much effect on humans because of our large size. But to a tiny guinea pig, the effects can be deadly.

Luckily, tomatine doesn’t reside in the ripened tomato fruit, so it’s safe to feed to your cavy. But if it’s not fully ripe and still has some green left in it, then you don’t want to risk feeding it to your pet. And be sure to clip those leaves off the top! They can be deadly for your furry friend.

guinea pig looking at tomato
Image Credit: Nicole Borkeszova, Shutterstock

Are Tomatoes Beneficial To Guinea Pigs?

So far, we’ve focused mainly on the negative aspects of feeding tomato to your guinea pig because that’s what you need to know to keep your beloved pet safe. But can eating tomatoes have any benefit for your tiny furry friend?

In truth, tomatoes can pose quite a few positive benefits for guinea pigs. They’re full of fiber, which is a necessary nutrient for a guinea pig’s digestive health. They’re also high in potassium and vitamin C, both of which are necessary for guinea pigs to consume through their diets.

If your guinea pig doesn’t get enough vitamin C, it can even lead to scurvy. This is because their bodies can’t manufacture this vitamin, so they have to consume it through their diet. Potassium is vital for your guinea pig’s bone health.

Fiber also plays another helpful role for your guinea pig. Since their teeth never stop growing, guinea pigs need to eat lots of fibrous foods such as tomatoes that can help to grind their teeth down.

What Negative Effects Can Result If I Feed My Guinea Pig Too Many Tomatoes?

Though tomatoes can have some positive benefits for your guinea pig, they can also have some negative health effects.

One common problem that results from feeding too much tomato to your guinea pig or feeding them tomatoes too often is painful, scabbed over mouth sores. The condition is called Cheilitis and it’s caused by the high amount of acid in the tomatoes.

You can also give your guinea pig diarrhea by feeding it too much tomato at once.

But the worst side effect of feeding tomatoes to your guinea pig comes as a result of feeding the wrong parts to them. If you feed your guinea pig any green parts of the tomato plant such as the leaves, stem, or unripe fruit, then you could kill your guinea pig from tomatine poisoning.

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Conclusion

If you want to feed your cavy a wide array of tasty foods, a small bit of tomato a few times a week is a great idea. It can provide some much-needed vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber.

But be careful not to overdo it, and don’t feed any green parts of the tomato plant to your guinea pig. The stems, leaves, and unripe fruit all contain tomatine which can poison your guinea pig. Even the red, ripened fruit can cause problems if you feed it to your guinea pig too often. So, as the old adage goes — all things in moderation.


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Nicole Cosgrove

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.