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Can Guinea Pigs Have Asparagus? Is it Healthy or Not?

If you are always on the lookout for a yummy new fresh vegetable to add to your guinea pig’s diet, you may be wondering, “Can guinea pigs eat asparagus?”

 Since cavies have sensitive dietary needs, one should never assume a vegetable or fruit like asparagus is safe or healthy for them.

All foods, including green leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage, should be investigated before being added to a guinea pig’s diet.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Asparagus?

fresh harvest of asparagus in a wooden basket

Suppose just the sound of chopping fresh vegetables can cause excited “wheeking” noises from your cavy.

In that case, you may be happy to learn that raw asparagus can be added to your arsenal of green treats.

For the most part, guinea pigs enjoy asparagus, and they can eat it in moderate portions as part of a range of vegetables in a healthy diet. 

However, there are some dangers in feeding too much asparagus or adding it to their diet too quickly. So it’s best to take an in-depth look at asparagus for guinea pigs.

What Part of the Asparagus Plant Can the Guinea Pig Eat?

Cavies are usually okay with the woody asparagus ends near the bottom of the plant. In fact, the fibrous texture of the ends is good for their dental health as it encourages more chewing.

Remember, cavys’ teeth are constantly “erupting” or growing, so they need to wear them down.

The asparagus spear made up of the asparagus stem and the tip is also good for them to eat. Cavies tend to love asparagus tips, but make sure they are fresh and have not changed color.

Be careful to wash all fresh food to remove pesticides and always remove any uneaten asparagus within a few hours before it goes off.

The one part of the plant that a cavy should never eat is the asparagus fruit. This can lead to food poisoning as the fruits are highly toxic and can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea for our pocket pets.

How Much Asparagus Can a Guinea Pig Eat?

chopped asparagus in a ceramic bowl

In general, a guinea pig should be offered about a cup of mixed fresh vegetables per day. Of that, about a quarter of the cup can be chopped asparagus.

This is usually safe for a guinea pig, but keep in mind that asparagus is high in phosphorus and calcium and has a moderate amount of oxalic acid.

All of these can result in different kinds of kidney stones or uroliths. So try to keep the overall amount of calcium, phosphorus, and oxalic acid in mind when you add the asparagus to the other fresh food.

READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raw Potatoes?

Can I Feed My Guinea Pig Asparagus Daily?

Because of the high levels of calcium, phosphorus, and other nutrients in asparagus, you don’t want to feed asparagus daily.

The bulk of a cavy’s diet should be pretty low in nutrients, such as timothy hay, and too many can cause a build-up in their bodies and create health concerns. 

Therefore, a nutrient-dense vegetable such as asparagus should instead be given as a treat once or twice a week.  

As perennial plants that are quite intensive to grow, asparagus is also more expensive than most vegetables, so feeding it less often may be more cost-effective.

Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Asparagus?

cute baby guinea pigs

Baby guinea pigs under six months should not eat asparagus. They need a carefully formulated diet of their mother’s milk and hay. Only introduce asparagus when they are adults. 

What Kind of Asparagus Can I Feed My Guinea Pig?

There are several types of asparagus you can choose to feed your guinea pig. The typical green asparagus is the one we are most familiar with in stores, and this is what we are focusing on in this article. 

However, there is also white asparagus that is grown entirely underground to prevent chlorophyll from forming. If you are lucky enough to find it, white asparagus is a perfectly good occasional treat.

It also has a milder taste than the standard green type.

You also get purple asparagus that has a higher sugar content, so your cavy may enjoy it more. It also has high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin. Anthocyanin has several health benefits:

  • It is antidiabetic
  • Anti-microbial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • And helps to prevent obesity.

All types of asparagus are fine for your cavy so long as you limit the portion size and only feed it from time to time.

Should I Feed Guinea Pig Asparagus Raw, Cooked, or Canned?

a guinea pig and tied asparagus

Always feed your guinea pig raw asparagus only. Cavies cannot digest cooked asparagus or any other cooked food.

Plus, the extra oils, garlic, and onions that often come with baked asparagus can be harmful and cause digestive troubles. 

Cavies should also not be given any frozen asparagus (or other frozen foods), as it may have pesticides.

At the same time, canned asparagus is steeped in preservatives, or brine is also bad for their health. Therefore, only fresh, raw asparagus is a viable option for a healthy adult cavy.

Health Benefits of Asparagus

Calcium to Phosphorus ratio

Guinea pigs fed diets too high in calcium and phosphorus are likely to develop kidney stones. These may be either calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, or calcium oxalate. 

One study shows that feeding cavies on a diet that is less than 0.5% calcium can bring the incidence of kidney stones down to less than 10%.

This isn’t to say that cavies should get no calcium since it is essential for bone health, nerves, muscle contractions, and blood clotting, but it should be limited.

One stalk of asparagus contains about 2.9 mg of calcium and 6.2 mg of phosphorus. This is important because the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in your guinea pig’s diet is also crucial.

It is generally thought that the ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio is 1.5:1. The ratio for asparagus is 0.4:1. This means by feeding vegetables higher in calcium, such as cilantro, chard, or celery, you can balance the overall ratio out and maintain your cavy’s overall urinary tract health.

READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Celery?

Essential Minerals

Potassium and magnesium seem to interact with phosphorus and calcium content in the guinea pig body.

In fact, they may prevent the effects of excess phosphorus. Potassium helps to regulate fluids, muscles contractions, and nerves. 

Potassium may also help to regulate blood sugar levels, keep bones healthy, and prevent kidney stones.

Magnesium is vital for muscle and nerve support and may also increase energy levels. 

Meanwhile, zinc and selenium are powerful immune system boosters and can keep your cavy fighting fit.

Zinc also helps in wound healing and reduces inflammation, while selenium protects against heart disease, cancer and acts as an antioxidant.

Vitamin C & Other Essential Vitamins

Vitamin C is a vital vitamin for your guinea pig’s health. Like humans, cavies can’t produce their own and need this to be supplemented into their diet.

A lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy, which can interfere with the body’s blood clotting ability, collagen manufacture and create problems for their skin and joints. 

Vitamin C also helps the absorption of iron, which makes for healthy blood.

Because asparagus does not contain enough to avoid a vitamin C deficiency, your cavy will still need a supplement. However, fresh vegetables like asparagus can help maintain the levels of vitamin C in their bodies.

Asparagus is also a good source of pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, which is crucial for your guinea pig’s metabolism, and it contains vitamin A, which is fantastic for your cavy’s eye health.

Finally, asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K. This is necessary to create prothrombin. This amino acid aids blood clotting and bone metabolism. Vitamin K also regulates blood calcium levels.

Antioxidants

Asparagus is loaded with antioxidants that fight potential health issues such as free radicals and oxidative stress.

Other than vitamin C, asparagus also has vitamin E, which is excellent for their skin and lowers inflammation in the body. 

It also contains polyphenols and glutathione. One major bonus is that asparagus is rich in flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin. These can help your cavy fight cancer, viruses, high blood pressure, and inflammation. 

Fiber Content

Asparagus is relatively high in fiber, which is excellent for cavies. Guinea pigs must have a high fiber diet, which is why most of their food should come from low-calcium hay. 

Fiber manages a healthy digestive system and balances the gut bacteria. The extra chewing that high-fiber foods need also wear down your cavy’s teeth. A high-fiber diet is also essential to maintain a healthy weight.

Low Sugar and Calories

Finally, asparagus is low in calories and sugar. This is crucial to prevent blood sugar spikes in your cavy’s system and to help them maintain appropriate body weight.

Keeping a guinea pig’s blood sugar level steady is essential because they are genetically predisposed to diabetes.

In general, their diets should be very low in carbohydrates and sugars, and they should be encouraged to be active.

Keeping your guinea pig from becoming overweight or obese can prevent a variety of health issues later in their life. The high protein in asparagus is also great means of building more lean muscle mass.

Risks of Feeding Asparagus to Guinea Pigs

As much as asparagus has many benefits for cavies, remember that it should only be fed in moderation. There are several potential risks that asparagus may have for your guinea pig.

Allergic Reaction

When introducing your cavy to a new food, always be on the lookout for an allergic reaction.

Start with one small piece of asparagus, and then monitor your cavy closely for any signs that it does not agree with them. This may include:

  1. Itchy skin
  2. sneezing
  3. wheezing or trouble breathing
  4. diarrhea

If your pet shows any of these symptoms, stop feeding asparagus immediately. If the symptoms persist, be sure to take your pet to the vet.

Oxalic Acid

Just like phosphorus and calcium needs to be monitored, so does oxalic acid. This is a chemical found in most plants and tends to increase as the plants get older.

Experts recommend that guinea pigs eat no more than 50 mg of oxalic acid a day, or it might result in uroliths and even death.

Unfortunately, asparagus is moderately high in oxalic acid, containing about 13 grams per 100 grams. This is one reason asparagus should not be fed every day.

Pesticides

Any commercial vegetable should always be washed and scrubbed under running cold water to remove any residual pesticides and bacteria that could poison your cavy.

Thankfully, asparagus is usually safe and was found to be one of the top 15 crops with the least pesticides in 2021.

Nevertheless, all crops should be treated with care for possible contamination, not just pesticides but of bacteria such as Salmonella. 

Always make good hygiene part of your food handling routine for both human food and guinea pig food. 

Diarrhea and stomach problems

Too much green vegetables such as asparagus or fruit can cause diarrhea in guinea pigs. It can also upset their tummies if they are not used to it. 

Make sure to introduce any new vegetable slowly and never allow them more than a cup of leafy greens a day.

FAQs

What foods cause bladder stones in guinea pigs?

Some foods to watch out for because of their high calcium or oxalate content include:
Alfalfa 
Parsley
Purslane
Spinach
Beet leaves
Dill
Mustard Spinach
Lambs quarters
Turnip greens
Dandelion greens
Collards
Chinese cabbage
Watercress
Endive

What should I feed my guinea pig daily?

A guinea pig’s daily diet consists of water, hay, pellets and up to one cup of fresh vegetables and fruits. Guinea pigs need about 10-50 mg of vitamin C per day to prevent scurvy. If they’re not getting enough through their diet, you may need a supplement as well.

What fresh food can my guinea pig eat?

two brown cavies eating lettuce

The bulk of your cavy’s fresh food should come from leafy greens such as romaine or red lettuce, cilantro, parsley, and kale. Iceberg lettuce should be avoided because its high water content can cause loose stools. Other safe fruits and vegetables can be alternated and fed in moderation.

What foods kill guinea pigs?

A number of foods are very dangerous for guinea pigs, especially any kind of process human junk food. Just like dogs, cavies can be made extremely sick by chocolate, too, while citrus fruit can cause mouth sores or cause tummy upsets because of their acidity. Other foods that are dangerous for cavies include:
Bindweed
Buttercup
Daffodils
Cereal
Dairy
Meat
Onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, or chives.

Conclusion

Asparagus is great for adult guinea pigs when fed to them in moderation. This means a few stalks 1-2 times a week.

It has some fantastic health benefits, but every pet owner should be aware of the drawbacks and monitor their guinea pig’s daily diet carefully.

With a properly maintained diet and plenty of fresh, clean water, guinea pigs can be the ideal pocket pet for many years to come.

References:

  • Bjornebo, Heather. 2016. “VITAMIN c RECOMMENDATIONS for GUINEA PIGS | Arizona Exotics | -Guinea Pigs Resources.” Azeah.com. August 14, 2016. https://azeah.com/guinea-pigs/vitamin-c-recommendations-guinea-pigs.
  • Environmental Working Group. 2021. “Clean FifteenTM Conventional Produce with the Least Pesticides.” Ewg.org. 2021. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php.
  • Hogan, Albert G., William O. Regan, and William B. House. 1950. “Calcium Phosphate Deposits in Guinea Pigs and the Phosphorus Content of the Diet.” The Journal of Nutrition 41 (2): 203–13. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/41.2.203.
  • Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals,. 1995. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/4758.
  • The Guinea Pig Vet. 2019. “Bladder Stones in Guinea Pigs.” Theguineapigvet. Theguineapigvet. June 14, 2019. https://www.theguineapigvet.co.uk/post/bladder-stones-in-guinea-pigs.
guinea pig walking towards the asparagus but can guinea pigs eat asparagus?

What do you think of asparagus for guinea pigs? Please share your thoughts below!

Andreea Juganaru
Andreea Juganaru

Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own mom blog.
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