With the popularity of guinea pigs constantly increasing over the last couple of years, more and more people have been choosing to add a guinea pig to their families and thus, we have seen more and more questions each month based around how you are able to offer the best care possible to a new guinea pig. We have seen a whole range of questions asked about pretty much anything you could ever think of when it comes to guinea pigs.
The majority of the questions that we do see asked on a regular basis tend to be based around things such as “what do guinea pigs eat” we already have a few general articles about that so we have decided to focus on the more specific question of “Can guinea pigs eat kale?” that we have noticed being asked with increasing frequency. Our hope is that we will be able to help any of our readers who are looking to add kale to their pet guinea pigs diet and help them see the excellent nutritional benefits of this extremely healthy food.
Just like most of the other leafy greens and similar vegetables like kale, guinea pig can have it as part of their diet but you should not give them it on a daily basis. Kale has a very high amount of calcium in it and if you give it to your guinea pig every day then it can cause issues with bladder stones. Feeding kale to your guinea pig once or twice a week at max can be a great way to get the essential nutrients in the veggie into your guinea pigs diet without them getting too much kale.
most guinea pigs eat kale with enthusiasm giving the impression that they really like the taste it offers too. In addition to this, it is only around ten percent sugar making it ideal to use as a treat food source for your guinea pig too without posing too many risks. We will not be taking a more in-depth look at kale and its various health benefits that it can offer your guinea pig when added to your pet’s food as an occasional treat.
Vitamin And Mineral Content
Kale can be a great addition to the guinea pig food that you use as your pets main food source as it can be rotated into their main meals like many other fruits and vegetables to keep their meals interesting and break up the monotony of the commercial guinea pig foods. Feeding kale to your guinea pig, especially raw kale, can be a quick and easy way to get a good amount of the essential vitamins and minerals that your guinea pigs need into their diet. These vitamins and minerals are essential for optimal health in your pet guinea pig with the nutrients helping your pet live a long and healthy life.
Although it is recommended that you do add some form of fruit and vegetables as a treat to your guinea pig meals every day, kale should only be used once or twice a week. Although guinea pigs eat kale enthusiastically, the calcium content can cause issues as we touched on above if used too often. We have a number of other fruits and vegetables at the end of the article that you are able to use in addition to kale to keep your pet guinea pigs diet interesting.
When it comes to the vitamin content of kale, it comes jam-packed with generous helpings of:-
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Pantothenic Acid
As you can see, it has a high vitamin content with a particularly high content of vitamin C too helping to boost your guinea pigs immune system. Although ensuring that your pet is getting enough vitamin C in its diet is important, it becomes more important as your guinea pig gets older and illness becomes more of a risk. Food sources such as kale offers a high vitamin C content allowing you to top your guinea pigs intake up but some people do choose to supplement their pet’s diet with a specialist guinea pig vitamin C supplement too.
When it comes to the mineral content of kale, it comes with plenty of the following essential minerals:-
As we touched on earlier though, a single serving of kale can have over your guinea pigs recommended daily intake for calcium and potentially cause issues with bladder stones if overfed. Although some guinea pig owners will use kale as a treat for their guinea pigs meals twice a week, we usually only recommend that our readers use it once a week to prevent this from happening. That said though, if you do want to feed your guinea pigs kale twice a week, be sure to keep a few days between servings to allow your guinea pigs systems a chance to use the calcium and prevent an excessive build-up.
A Great Fiber Source
Another thing that kale offers in abundance is fiber and although only around two percent of kale is fiber, guinea pigs don’t need much in their diet to keep their digestive system working optimally. Feeding kale to your guinea pig can be a quick and easy way to top up their fiber intake and keep them regular too but again, the older your guinea pig gets, the more important dietary fiber is in their diet. This is why many people will ensure that they offer a vegetable treat to their pet guinea pig on a daily basis to help keep their fiber intake high.
This is due to older guinea pigs having a higher chance of suffering from either constipation or impaction. Although constipation is not too much of an issue and can usually be solved without issue, impaction can lead to some serious health issues or even death if untreated. Keeping your guinea pigs diet high in fiber does not guarantee that your guinea pig will not suffer from impaction but it does help and is one of the main reasons that many guinea pig owners with older pets will switch them to a guinea pig food that is high in fiber.
High Water Content
Thankfully, a large number of the popular options for treat food for guinea pigs have a high water content and kale is no different. The leaves of raw kale and even cooked kale can have a surprisingly high amount of water in them and can help you top up your guinea pigs water intake if required. Now, this is not a major issue with guinea pig as the problem tends to occur in other popular household pets more often. That said though, some guinea pigs can go off their water in their older age and not drink as much as they should leading to dehydration.
This can just be a temporary problem but adding foods such as kale and other vegetables or fruit that are high in water as treat options for your guinea pig can be a relatively easy way to top up your guinea pigs water intake. Getting your guinea pig to eat its water can be much easier than getting it to drink it if your pet does go off its water. That said though, you should never rely on just water from foods and if this does end up being the only way you can get water into your guinea pig then you should seek assistance from your local veterinarian.
Getting your guinea pig to eat foods such as kale can often be enough to help get their water intake back up to where it should be though and prevent dehydration. Common signs of dehydration in guinea pigs include struggling to keep their balance and confusion. If you notice either of these in your pet on a regular basis then we would recommend that you seek assistance from your local veterinarian and try to get your pet to eat foods that have a high water content to see if it helps.
How To Prepare Kale For Your Guinea Pig
As we touched on earlier, guinea pigs eat kale enthusiastically without you having to do much to convince them that they should give it a try. Most guinea pigs tend to enjoy the taste of the vegetable and will eat kale without protest and wolf it down without giving it so much as a second though. Raw kale can usually just be added to your guinea pigs food bowl without issue and the majority of cooked kale will be fine too provided you did not have to add any additional ingredients to it during the cooking process.
That said though, raw kale defiantly does seem to be the more popular option for guinea pigs with them seeming to prefer the taste and texture of it more than the cooked version. We often see people asking how much kale they should feed their guinea pigs and we usually tell them four to five leaves per serving but this can depend on if you are using shredded kale or not.
Alternatives To Kale For Your Guinea Pig
Although feeding kale to your guinea pig is quick and easy, as we mentioned earlier in the article, doing this more than twice per week can lead to a number of issues with your pet. Due to this, we wanted to go over some quick and easy alternatives to kale that you can use as treat foods for your guinea pigs diet to help keep it as interesting as possible.
In our opinion, the best foods include apple, grapes, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, and green beans. This with kale added in is seven options allowing you to use one per day with all seven food types offering some solid vitamin and mineral content, plenty of vitamin c, plenty of fiber, a ton of water that your guinea pigs can eat if they don’t drink as much as they should and they are all easy to source too.
That brings our article going over the popular question “Can guinea pigs eat kale?” and we hope that you have found it helpful. Kale comes with a ton of benefits and only one real downside that is the high calcium content that you can keep under control by only giving your guinea pigs kale once or twice a week if possible. This makes it easy to get all of the essential nutrients, especially the high amount of vitamin c into your guinea pigs to help keep them as healthy as possible without running into any issues.