Can guinea pigs eat spinach?
Is it safe, and how much should they eat?
Which other green vegetables can they eat?
Join me as I answer these questions as well as give you some tips on guinea pigs’ diet.
Don’t forget to check our list of fruits and veggies safe for guinea pigs!
READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bell Peppers?
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat spinach, but only as an occasional treat.
This is because they contain too many oxalates and calcium which could lead to bladder stones.
I will discuss that in more detail below.
But first, let’s answer some questions about various forms in which the spinach should be fed to guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs eat spinach stems?
No, they shouldn’t. While they contain vitamins and minerals that could benefit piggies, spinach stems are a choking hazard.
The leafy part of the spinach plant is enough to give your cavies the nutrients they need.
Can guinea pigs eat baby spinach?
Yes, they can. Baby spinach contains the same nutrients as fully grown spinach, only in smaller amounts.
But it would help if you still fed them in moderation to avoid the bladder stones hazard.
Can guinea pigs eat frozen spinach?
Yes, they can, but the frozen spinach should be thawed (warmed) before being fed to your little friends.
Frozen food could cause severe digestive issues. Besides, frozen food may not be as nutritious, especially if it has stayed for too long.
So, if possible, stick to fresh food.
Can guinea pigs eat cooked spinach?
No, they shouldn’t. Cooking leads to the breakdown and the loss of nutrients.
It also involves additives such as salt, oils, or spices, which could harm your cavy.
Fresh vegetables are always the best option.
Is spinach suitable for guinea pigs?
Regular spinach is considered a superfood due to the nutrients it contains.
And partly due to the Popeye show, which popularized the eating of spinach to gain strength and “superpowers.”
Below are some of the nutrients it contains that are beneficial to your guinea pigs.
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, Spinach is a good source of Vitamins A, B2, B6, C, and K.
About 24% of 1 cup of raw spinach is Vitamin C, which is very important in a guinea pig’s diet since these pets can’t synthesize Vitamin C.
Vitamin C also helps heal wounds in guinea pigs, bone formation, and vascular integrity.
A lack of Vitamin C in the diet could lead to scurvy, which could lead to death. This is according to a report published by Sawnee Animal Clinic.
Vitamin A is essential for optimal growth. Vitamin B2 and B6 are essential for energy and the prevention of anemia in guinea pigs, respectively.
Spinach also contains a significant amount of magnesium, folate, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
These minerals help in growth, bone development, prevention of anemia, improved reproductive health, improved energy levels, and improve piggies’ skin health.
Spinach also contains a significant amount of fiber essential in digestion and improved growth rates.
Guinea pigs can also get enough proteins and amino acids from spinach. Protein is known for promoting overall growth, energy levels, and improved immune systems.
Older guinea pigs that aren’t lactating don’t need a lot of proteins, making spinach an excellent option to include in the diet or as a treat.
One serving of spinach can contain little to no sugars. Spinach is also known to be relatively low in calories.
This makes them a healthy food since you don’t have to worry about excessive weight gain if you feed them too much.
Below is a summary of the nutrients spinach has in a one-cup serving, courtesy of The World’s Healthiest Foods.
|Nutrient||Amount in 180 g.|
|Vitamin K||888.48 mcg|
|Vitamin A||943.29 mcg|
|Vitamin B2||0.42 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.44 mg|
|Vitamin E||3.74 mg|
|Vitamin C||17.64 mg|
Risks to Consider when Feeding Spinach to Guinea Pigs
So, if spinach contains all of these essential nutrients, why should it be fed only in small amounts?
It’s because it has too much oxalic acid (oxalates).
A significant presence of oxalates and calcium leads to the formation of bladder stones in guinea pigs.
What happens is that the oxalates bind with the calcium molecules to form these stones.
An article published by Dr. Marie K. Holowaychuk (See reference below) suggested that the consumption of too much oxalates could lead to renal (kidney) failure, and it’s also quite painful.
She studied an affected guinea pig who exhibited lethargy, lack of appetite, and less poop than normal, all symptoms of renal failure.
According to her, guinea pigs diagnosed with renal failure should be given lots of fresh water, leafy greens, and Vitamin C supplements.
They should also be monitored to ensure they don’t have access to plants that contain too much oxalates.
What happens if guinea pigs overeat spinach?
In some cases, the guinea pigs will be just fine even after eating a lot of spinach, but you shouldn’t risk it.
Watch them for some time, and if you notice lethargy, blood in the feces, aggression, and high-pitched shrieks which signify pain, or a lack of appetite, contact a qualified vet as soon as possible.
Too much spinach is not the only reason they may be showing these signs.
If you are letting them graze outside or collected some greens outdoors, you may have mixed tomato leaves, rhubarb leaves, or mushrooms, which are all harmful to guinea pigs.
Other foods that may make your cavies sick include potatoes, onions, corn, and beans.
How often can you feed spinach to guinea pigs?
Due to the risks posed by oxalates and calcium, you should only feed your guinea pigs one or a few spinach leaves, at least once a week and not more than twice a week.
Feeding them spinach daily speeds up the formation of bladder stones.
4 Tips for Preparing Spinach for your Cavies
Now that you know you can feed your guinea pigs spinach and how much to feed them, below are some simple steps to prepare this green vegetable for your pet.
1. Inspect the spinach
Select only fresh spinach and make sure it’s not contaminated. Some things to look out for include yellow sections, rotting sections, bug/aphid holes, discoloration, or black spots.
If you grow the spinach on your farm, it would be best to only feed the organically grown spinach. Some stores also sell organically grown spinach.
2. Get rid of the stems
As mentioned earlier, it’s not a good idea to feed guinea pigs spinach stems.
They’re a hazard and not very pleasant, and they’re also not easy to clean. You can cut from the base of the leaf or by prying. I find prying quite fun.
3. Clean the spinach
Use running water to clean the soil, pesticide residuals, if any, or any other impurities that may be on the surface.
After washing them, rinse the spinach and dry them with a towel or a salad spinner.
4. Chop the spinach leaves into smaller pieces
It’s easier for guinea pigs to eat smaller pieces. So chop them up and make sure the area they are feeding on is clean.
Don’t return any washed spinach into storage since it may facilitate rot.
Always replace uneaten food with fresh food every 24 hours.
Fun tip: To make “Spinach day” more fun, you can prepare a salad for yourself too. As you both feed on the same type of food, it gives you a chance to create a stronger bond.
Alternatives to Spinach in a Guinea Pigs Diet
According to PDSA, 80% of guinea pig’s diets should contain hay or grass.
Hay contains most of the nutrients they need, it’s low in fat and calories, and it helps improve their dental health.
They can munch on it all day without gaining excessive weight.
The rest of the percentage can be filled up with commercial pellets, fresh greens, and fruits.
To be precise, at least 1 cup of fresh vegetables daily will be enough. But we have already ruled spinach as part of daily food.
Now let’s review other leafy vegetables that can replace spinach to maintain a guinea [pig’s balanced diet.
This is one of the healthiest leafy vegetables you can feed your guinea pigs.
It’s the opposite of spinach in the sense that it contains lower amounts of calcium and oxalates, so you don’t have to worry about bladder stones and other risks associated with excess calcium.
However, there are different types of lettuce, and you need to be careful about which types you feed your pet.
The most nutritious types of lettuce are romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce.
The other types have an insignificant nutritional level for guinea pigs and may even cause a Vitamin C deficiency.
If you have access to romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce, you can feed them to your pet daily, or at least 5 times a week without hurting your pet. For an in-depth guide, check “Can Guinea Pigs Eat Romaine Lettuce“?
Cucumber is another excellent alternative to spinach and green vegetable that you can feed to your guinea pig daily.
It’s a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, and water. It also contains low amounts of sugar and calories.
However, it doesn’t contain that much Vitamin C, and it also contains too much water.
So, it’s best to combine cucumber with other leafy greens to achieve a balanced diet. All parts of the cucumber are safe for guinea pigs, including the seeds, flesh, and skin.
Zucchinis are good sources of antioxidants, Vitamin A, carotenoids, fiber, and water.
While they have considerable amounts of vitamin C, zucchinis are known for the higher concentrations of Vitamin A, which is essential in boosting the immune system.
Zucchinis have low concentrations of sugar and insignificant amounts of oxalates. Therefore, you can feed them as part of guinea pig food daily.
#4 Swiss chard
“Can guinea pigs eat Swiss chard?” is a common question in guinea pig pet owners’ circles.
Well, they can eat Swiss chard, but only as an occasional treat since it contains too much oxalic acid.
When fed in moderation, Swiss chard are good sources of Vitamins C, A, K, calcium, and phosphorus.
“Can guinea pigs eat broccoli?” is another common question we have covered in detail.
And yes, guinea pigs can eat broccoli, but as treats since they too contain oxalates.
Broccoli has considerable amounts of essential nutrients such as Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Since different vegetables have different nutrient levels, it’s best to mix various them in one cup.
- Make sure there’s fresh water in the cage’s water bottle daily.
- Don’t introduce new food at once. Start with small amounts and observe how they behave. You can also mix with their favorite foods. Once you’re confident they love them, you can feed them the appropriate amounts.
Can guinea pigs eat Spinach FAQS
Can too much spinach kill a guinea pig?
Most bladder stones can wash away as long as you give your pet lots of fresh water. But if they are not removed, they cause severe pain and could eventually lead to death.
Is spinach poisonous to guinea pigs?
No, it’s not. It contains significant amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, calcium, phosphorous, and many other essential nutrients. But they should be fed in moderation due to the high concentrations of oxalates.
What vegetables can guinea pigs eat daily?
Lettuce (romaine and green leaf varieties), cucumber, kale, parsley, cilantro, and zucchini are some vegetables that you can feed your cavies daily. But vegetables only form a small portion of their diet. They should mainly feed on hay.
Below is a summary of what I’ve just covered.
- Guinea pigs can eat spinach as treats.
- Spinach contains oxalates and high amounts of calcium. When these two compounds bind, they form bladder stones, also known as kidney stones.
- Mild kidney stones can be washed out with lots of fresh water. But for severe bladder stones, it’s best to visit a veterinarian.
- Always feed raw spinach. Avoid cooking since cooked spinach is less nutritious and may contain harmful additives. Frozen spinach is also an option, but make sure it’s thawed before feeding it to your guinea pigs.
- Some good alternative leafy greens that you can feed your pet daily include zucchini, cucumber, and lettuce.
- Holowaychuk, Marie K. 2006. “Renal Failure in a Guinea Pig (Cavia Porcellus) Following Ingestion of Oxalate Containing Plants.” The Canadian Veterinary Journal 47 (8): 787–89. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1524846/.
- “Spinach.” n.d. Www.whfoods.com. Accessed May 27, 2021. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43#nutritionalprofile.
- “Welcome to Sawnee Animal Clinic.” n.d. Sawneeanimalclinic.com. Accessed May 27, 2021. https://sawneeanimalclinic.com/.
- “Your Guinea Pig’s Diet.” n.d. Www.pdsa.org.uk. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/your-guinea-pig-s-diet.
Can guinea pigs eat spinach? What are your thoughts about it?