Guinea pigs have seen a large surge in popularity over the last few years as more and more people decide to add a guinea pig to their family and if the last six months or so is anything to go by then this is only going to keep on increasing over the coming months. With so many people opting to get themselves a new guinea pig pet, we have seen a dramatic spike in the number of people who are reaching out each month with various questions related to providing the best care possible for guinea pigs.
The vast majority of these questions are based around what kind of treats people are able to give their pet guinea pigs but one question that we have noticed asked with increasing frequency is based around “Can guinea pigs eat spinach?”. Due to this, we have decided to focus on adding spinach to your guinea pigs diet for this article to try and help as many people as possible who may be wondering the same thing.
Guinea pigs can eat spinach without issue and the majority of guinea pigs do seem to enjoy the taste of spinach too. That said though, we would not recommend that you use spinach as a staple of your guinea pigs diet and strictly only use it as a treat. Although fine once or twice a week in small amounts, spinach does contain a large amount of oxalates that may end up in bladder stones forming in your guinea pig. Although the chances are rare, we would always advise our readers to be safe rather than sorry and only use spinach as a treat to prevent any issues.
That said though, don’t let this scare you off from offering your pet guinea pig spinach once or twice a week. Spinach is a super food that is jam packed with goodness and can definitely help improve the average guinea pigs diet provided it is given in moderation. We will now be taking a more in-depth look at the benefits of spinach for your pet guinea pig and why we feel that it is a solid treat when used as part of a balanced diet as spinach is not nutritionally complete meaning that it does not offer all of the nutrient your guinea pig requires.
Great Fiber Content
The first main benefit that spinach offers your pet guinea pig is that it is a great source of dietary fiber that can be difficult to get into your guinea pigs’ diet depending on the other foods that it eats on a regular basis. Not only is fiber essential to promote a healthy digestive tract but it also offers two key benefits for guinea pigs. Fiber helps to keep your guinea pig regular and prevent constipation that can end up leading to impaction and end up causing serious injury or potentially even death in your guinea pig.
Although the majority of reputable guinea pig food brands offer plenty of fiber per serving, getting a little extra in there from a treat such as spinach helps to minimize the risk of constipation and impaction occurring in your pet. As we touched on earlier in the article, the majority of guinea pigs tend to really enjoy the taste of spinach anyway making it very easy to add to your guinea pig’s diet without issue.
Vitamins And Mineral Content
In addition to the great fiber content in spinach, this popular super vegetable also offers an absolute ton of essential vitamins and minerals for your guinea pig that are essential for it to lead a healthy life. As we mentioned above though, spinach is not nutritionally complete for your guinea pig but is definatley one of the best vegitables to add to your guinea pigs diet as it offers you so much bang for your buck when it comes to its vitamin and mineral profile.
When it comes to the vitamin side of things, spinach offers all of the following in healthy amounts:-
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B1
- Pantothenic Acid
When it comes to the mineral side of things, spinach offers all of these in abundance too:-
As you can see from the list above, spinach offers both Riboflavin and Manganese that can often be harder to get into your guinea pig’s diet depending on the primary food source. Although the majority of comercial guinea pig food brands will supplement it into their food mix, many people prefer to feed their guinea pig free food direct from their own kitchen. Although there is nothing wrong with doing this, spinach should definitely be added to supplement Manganese and Riboflavin at least once a week if you are making all of your guinea pigs meals from scratch yourself.
We have noticed a number of people pointing out that some types of spinach have trace amounts of caffein in them but the amount is so small that it does not pose a threat to your guinea pigs health when offered in moderation once or twice per week. In fact, the vast majority of nutritional databases list spinach as having 0mg of caffein in it due to it being such a small amount per serving making it perfectly fine for your guinea pig to consume.
Great Water Content
Although there are definitely better vegetables to add to your guinea pigs diet to help supplement its water intake, spinach does have a surprisingly high amount of water in it to help keep your guinea pig hydrated. Depending on your local temperature of the area you live, this may work to your advantage as although the majority of guinea pigs will willingly drink their water as usual, in warmer climates dehydration can be an issue.
With the majority of the store bought guinea pig food being dry foods, if you do base your guinea pigs around commercial food then spinach can be a solid way to help increase your guinea pigs water intake. On the flipside of this though, if you are feeding your pet guinea pig a diet based around mostly kitchen scraps then the majority of the fresh fruits and veggies you are feeding your guinea pig will be packed with water anyway.
Close To Zero Fat
As you can probably guess, spinach is extremely low in fat, so low in fact that many nutritional sites don’t even list the fat content of spinach. Guinea pigs have evolved over the years to require minimal fats and having too much fat in their diet can potentially cause them health issues. When it comes to a natural treat for your guinea pig, spinach is definitely one of the better options when it comes to minimizing fat intake while also helping to sneak a ton of vitamins and minerals into your guinea pig’s diet too.
Ideal Carbohydrate Content
The dominant macronutrient in your guinea pigs diet should be carbohydrates and spinach fits right in with this break down with carbohydrates being the main macronutrient in the food. Due to containing so much water, spinach does not actually contain that many carbohydrates by weight but it can help to top up your guinea pigs intake provided it is being fed a balanced, healthy diet.
The vast majority of the reputable guinea pig food brands on the market these days offer an ideal carbohydrate break down anyway but some guinea pigs will only pick at their main meals when they are very hungry. This is often due to the monotony of many of these foods and your pet guinea pig simply getting bored of the same thing day in day out. Offering some fresh veggies of different kinds with your guinea pigs meal each day of the week can be a nice way to spice it up and ensure your guinea pig gets all of the carbohydrates that it requires.
As we touched on earlier though, spinach should only be offered to your pet guinea pig once or twice a week so remember to spice things up. Other vegetables such as carrots, kale, green beans, and broccoli make great additions as well as fruits such as apple slices, strawberries, and grapes too. They all have plenty of carbohydrates in them and can really help to keep your guinea pigs diet fresh and ensure that it actually eats the majority of its meals.
Ideal Protein Content
Although a guinea pig does not require anywhere near as much protein in its diet as some other common house hold pets, it does need some protein to help with muscle growth and muscle repair. Depending on the age of your pet guinea pig, the amount of protein it requires in its diet will vairy but spinach is low enough in protein not to cause any unwanted spikes that may lead to health issues down the line.
How Should I Feed Spinach to My Pet?
Due to the texture and structure of spinach, you can offer it to your guinea pig raw and most guinea pigs will eat it as it without having any issues at all. That said though, we have seen a few people who have older guinea pigs or guinea pigs with teeth or throat issues say that they like to warm spinach up in a pan first to break it down and make it much easier to eat. We have not seen anything to suggest that there are any issues with this and from what we have seen, guinea pigs seem to enjoy the spinach served to them in this way just as much as having it given to them raw anyway.