The guinea pig owning community has been steadily increasing in size for a few decades now while seeing much quicker growth over the last three years or so. Just like anything else, the more people that are interested in a certain pet, the more people that we see reaching out with various questions on how best to care for that particular pet as well as what they should be feeding them. We always see people reaching out and asking questions based around things like “What can guinea pigs eat?” but we have seen the more specific “Can guinea pigs eat strawberries?” being asked on a steadily increasing basis.
Due to this, we have decided to make this the subject of today’s article as we know a few of our readers own guinea pigs and we always try to help our readers as best we can no matter the question. Now, before we get any further into the article, yes, your pet guinea pig can definitely eat Strawberries without having any serious health issues provided they are done in moderation! Just like most things that guinea pigs can eat, moderation is most definitely key and Strawberries are no different.
Although we would not recommend that our readers give a guinea pig more than one single strawberry a week, we have seen some people report that they have been able to give their guinea pigs two or even three in one sitting but this can have issues, especially if their diet is not balanced. That said though, for a one-off treat, a strawberry can serve as a delicious, healthy treat that the vast majority of guinea pigs seem to really enjoy.
That said though, in our opinion, there are definitely better options out there, especially if you are looking for a treat to give your guinea pig each day. Due to the limited serving size of strawberries for your guinea pig and the short shelf life of strawberries, picking up another high-quality guinea pig treat is likely the better option. On top of the limited serving size, there are more balanced foods out there with a better nutritional profile than strawberries.
Although strawberries can definitely be used to supplement a diet and do have a ton of benefits, they are not nutrient complete and overfeeding your guinea pig on strawberries can end up actually causing issues. This is why we always recommend that our readers only offer their guinea pig one strawberry per week and don’t exceed this. Due to guinea pig owners loving their pets so much, we are now going to be taking a more in-depth look at strawberry and what they offer your guinea pigs when included as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Solid Fiber Content
In our opinion, one of the main advantages that strawberries offer your pet guinea pig is the quick and easy fiber content that is essential to help keep your guinea pig regular and encourage healthy bowel movements. Although plenty of different types of fruits offer humans fiber, some fruits such as apples have a fiber that is harder to process due to the structure of the apple skin where most of their fiber is located. On the flipside of this though, the skin of a strawberry is much easier for your guinea pigs digestion system to process offering some solid fiber.
The average strawberry is around two percent fiber helping top up the fiber offered for your guinea pig from the rest of sites diet to help ensure that it is as healthy as possible. Although two percent may sound like a low number, the seven percent of fiber from an apple is largely wasted due to being harder for your guinea pigs digestive tract to put to use. One a net basis, your guinea pig actually gets more usable fiber from a strawberry than the same amount of apple even though the percentile breaks down of the fiber on paper puts the apple ahead.
Although impaction is rarer in guinea pigs than some other pets, it can end up becoming a real issue for an older guinea pig and ensuring that your pet as plenty of fiber in their diet can help minimize the risk of this occurring. Although giving your guinea pig plenty of fiber does not offer any guarantee against impaction, it can definitely help prevent the condition and help prevent this potentially life-threatening issue from occurring in your guinea pig in its later years.
Although the vast majority of the reputable, commercial guinea pig foods on the market right now do offer suitable levels of fiver, we know that some guinea pig owners do like to feed their pets kitchen scraps of fresh food. Although there is generally nothing wrong with this and many people will do it, offering a balanced nutritional profile, especially when it comes to both fiber and vitamin b6 can be an issue. Thankfully, a single strawberry has decent helpings of both and can definitely help reach your guinea pigs recommended intake levels.
Contains Plenty Of Water
Although dehydration and water issues are not as prevalent in guinea pig as they are in some reptiles commonly kept as pets, some older guinea pigs or ones with health issues may not drink as much as they should be so the fact that a strawberry is just over ninety percent water can be a quick and easy way to top up their water intake without them knowing or fussing about it. Although this is by no means a substitute for their primary water source, the sweet taste of the strawberry can often get your guinea pig to wolf the strawberry down without even thinking about it.
If your guinea pig does have a health issue or is just generally not drinking much water then your local veterinarian will be able to offer specific advice for its situation. Depending on the situation though, a mixture of fresh fruits that include strawberries may be recommended to help get as much water into your guinea pig as possible. Again, unlike some of the reptiles that people keep as pets, over-hydrating a guinea pig is a much smaller issue but if your guinea pigs poop becomes watery or runny or if your guinea pig seems more dosile than usual or is having trouble with balance then they may be over hydrated.
Keep in mind that this is not the only possible cause for these symptoms but if you do suspect that it is due to overhydration then you should switch them to dry food and see if the symptoms improve over the source of a day or so. If the symptoms do persist then chances are that the issue is down to something else and assistance from your local veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible
Only Moderate Sugar Content
Unlike a pet such as a cat that is an obligate carnivore and has evolved to live from a diet based around meat and protein, guinea pigs have evolved to be herbivores and will eat pretty much any plant-based food that you offer them. Due to this, they have evolved to be able to process sugars and should have sugar as a key part of their diet. Although guinea pigs can have issues with foods that have too much sugar in them, a strawberry is around eight percent carbohydrate with only around five percent of that being actual sugar making them ideal for your guinea pigs recommended macronutrient break down.
As we touched on earlier, a strawberry should only be given to your guinea pig as a rare treat and as part of a balanced diet but the sweeter taste of the sugars in a strawberry can make a welcome break from the standard complex carbohydrates that most high-quality guinea pig food are based around. Although there is some debate around how much of the sugar in a guinea pigs diet should come from complex carbohydrates, it is generally agreed that it is usually agreed that ten to twenty percent of sugars from simple carbs like that in a strawberry is fine.
Very Low-Fat Content
As we mentioned earlier, guinea pigs have evolved to be strict herbivores and although a very small amount of fat is required in their diet, it is absolutely minimal when compared to their carbohydrate and protein requirement. Due to a strawberry being only 0.3% fat, this will not cause your pet any digestive upset if you offer your guinea pig a strawberry once a week or so. We have seen some people offer treats that have a much higher fat content that can then result in their guinea pig suffering from diarrhea but the minimal fat content in a strawberry is well below the limit for these issues to occur.
Low Protein Content
Although guinea pigs only require around twenty percent of their diet to be protein, as you may have guessed, a strawberry falls well short of this coming in with a protein content of around 0.7%. This is why we have stressed throughout the article that you should be offering your pet a balanced diet made up of a range of suitable foods to offer your pet a balanced and nutritionally complete diet to keep it as healthy as possible. The vast majority of high-quality guinea pig foods on the market these days offer a solid nutritional profile that you can then augment with treats as required to keep your pet’s diet interesting.
Plenty Of Vitamins And Minerals
Strawberries contain a ton of essential vitamins and minerals that are able to do your guinea pig the world of good with them including vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, various B vitamins, Potassium, Folate, Manganese, iron, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus. All of this comes together to help keep your pet as healthy as possible with some of the more prevalent vitamins and minerals in a strawberry being ideal for helping to fight the following issues in your guinea pig:-
- Heart Disease
- Oxidative Stress
- Cardiovascular Issues
- Low Lipid Profiles
- Harmful Oxidation Of Bad Cholesterol
On top of this, there are also a number of general health benefits that these vitamins and minerals in a strawberry can offer your pet guinea pig too. These include but are not limited to improve eye sight, healthier skin, a healthier coat, improved cognitive function, and healthier muscles to name a few. As you may have guessed, you can definitely get these vitamins and minerals from other sources but due to so many guinea pigs seeming to really enjoy strawberries, this may be one of the more enjoyable sources for some of these, especially Potassium that can be harder to find in sufficient quantities in some of the dry foods.