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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage? Is it Safe or Not?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage?

It seems harmless enough, even healthy perhaps, so cabbage has to be one of the greens your guinea pig can eat, right?

But what if I told you too much of this healthy treat could be harmful to your guinea pig’s health?

Keep reading for everything you need to know about including this family of fresh vegetables in your guinea pig’s daily diet!

Don’t forget to also check our guide: What Lettuce Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage?

a black and white cavy eating a cabbage but can guinea pigs eat cabbage everyday?

The quick answer; yes, guinea pigs can eat all types of cabbage. It’s not toxic to them, and if your guinea pig has gotten hold of some accidentally, they will be fine.

However, Veterinary Dr. Leonie McKinlay advises that you should only feed cabbage to guinea pigs in moderation. Want to know why?

Large amounts of calcium, oxalates, and phosphorus can all contribute to your guinea pig suffering from kidney stones. 

Stick around to find out more…

How Much Cabbage Can You Give Your Guinea Pig?

Not all cabbages are created equal. For example, green and Chinese cabbage are low oxalate foods (0 – 2 mg per serving), while red and savoy varieties are moderate (2 – 10 mg per serving).

red cabbage cut in half

DVM Leonie McKinlay recommends the red variety is the best choice for guineas due to its balance of troublesome and beneficial essential nutrients.

More on benefits in a moment…

She advises feeding your guinea pig a few one-inch cubes of this low sugar snack once or twice a week for best results. 

READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Have Asparagus?

Health Benefits of Cabbage for Guinea Pigs

Vitamin C

Guinea pigs rely on dietary vitamin C as they are unable to produce it naturally in their bodies. This is why vets often recommend vitamin C supplements.

On top of supplements, it’s always beneficial to have a natural source of vitamin C from the guinea pig foods in their daily diet. A lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy in cavies. 

While fruit is an excellent source of vitamins for humans, its high sugar content makes it less than ideal for guinea pigs. So, vegetables such as cabbage are the next best thing.

No snack should become a substitute for proper supplementation or the proper guinea pig diet staples of Timothy hay and pellets. Still, it’s a better treat than some other leafy vegetables like lettuce. 

Vitamin A

Cabbage isn’t a very good source of vitamin A in general, but Chinese cabbage, aka bok-choi, has a lot more per gram than the other types.

Vitamin A is another essential vitamin for guinea pigs as it helps protect and maintain their eye health and support their immune systems.

Vitamin K

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin K, with green cabbage containing it in the highest amount and red having the least.

Vitamin K is actually a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in regulating and maintaining many vital functions in a guinea pig’s body.

These include bone metabolism, blood clotting, and regulating those all-important calcium levels in the blood.

Dietary Fiber

Guinea pigs require a lot of fiber in their diet. It helps maintain the balance of bacterial intestinal flora and keeps your guinea pig regular.

Fiber also plays a role in maintaining your cavy’s teeth, as chewing through it helps keep them worn down to an acceptable length. 

The Health Risks of Cabbage for Guniea Pigs

Calcium, Oxalates, Phosphorus, and Kidney Stones

All types of cabbage have a relatively high calcium content. To a certain extent, calcium is excellent for your guinea pig as it helps them develop strong bones and teeth.

You can often have too much of a good thing, and calcium is no exception to that rule when it comes to a guinea pig’s diet.

In combination with compounds and minerals such as oxalates (oxalic acid) and phosphorus, calcium can contribute to bladder stone formation. This is a common health problem in guinea pigs.

Veterinary Dr. Ellie Whitehead writes that reducing calcium alone will not prevent bladder stones. Additionally, we need to pay attention to oxalate content and the ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1.5:1 or greater.

Bloating and Indigestion

Cabbage is notorious for causing bloating and indigestion in guinea pig owners (ok, all humans), so it will come as no surprise that guinea pigs can have the same issues.

In mild cases, your guinea pig may experience some temporary discomfort, but they can suffer from digestive issues like diarrhea in more extreme cases and require veterinary attention. 

Cabbage Key Nutritional Content for Guinea Pigs

Green Cabbage

  • Calcium: 40 mg
  • Phosphorus: 26 mg
  • Vitamin C: 36.6 mg
  • Vitamin A: 5 µg
  • Vitamin K: 76 µg
  • Oxalates: Low

Red Cabbage

  • Calcium: 45 mg
  • Phosphorus: 30 mg
  • Vitamin C: 57 mg
  • Vitamin A: 56 µg
  • Vitamin K: 38.2 µg
  • Oxalates: Moderate

Savoy Cabbage

  • Calcium: 35 mg
  • Phosphorus: 42 mg
  • Vitamin C: 31 mg
  • Vitamin A: 50 µg
  • Vitamin K: 68.8 µg
  • Oxalates: Moderate

Chinese Cabbage (Bok-choi)

  • Calcium: 105 mg
  • Phosphorus: 37 mg
  • Vitamin C: 45
  • Vitamin A: 223 µg
  • Vitamin K: 45.5µg
  • Oxalates: Low

All data courtesy of the USDA.

Check out this cute video:

READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Peppers?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage FAQs

Can Cabbage Kill Guinea Pigs?

All varieties of cabbage are safe for guinea pigs, so eating it won’t kill them when eaten in moderation. However, there is a danger of guinea pigs developing longer-term health problems if they consume this vegetable in large quantities. These include kidney stones and diarrhea.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage Every Day?

Guinea pigs should not eat cabbage every day as the calcium, oxalic acid, and phosphorus in the vegetable can cause health problems. Vets advise feeding no more than a couple of one-inch cubes of it once or twice a week.

In Summary: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage?

Can guinea pigs eat cabbage? That’s the question I set out to answer in this article.

This green snack is low in sugar, calories, and fat while being a good source of essential vitamins A, C, and K. The lack of sugar makes it far more suitable than fruit for delivering these nutrients.

While it’s not toxic to your guinea pig, you will have read that it contains compounds that can cause long-term harm when eaten in large quantities.

Calcium and oxalates in this green treat contribute to kidney stones, a common disease in guinea pigs. So, it shouldn’t become a regular part of their diet.

As a result, vets advise feeding your guinea pig a couple of one-inch cubed pieces of cabbage up to two times a week. They recommend that the red variety is the best of the bunch for cavies.

By taking the time to research safe feeding practices, you have shown just how great a guinea pig owner you really are. If you still have any doubts, speak to your vet for advice.

Thanks for reading!

References

  • Hughes, E 2021, Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage? Vets explain the dangers, Feeding My Pet, viewed 25 June 2021, <https://www.feedingmypet.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-cabbage/>.
  • O’Connor, M (RD) 2015, The Oxalate Content of Food, Dr. Cheryl Kasdorf, viewed 25 June 2021, <https://drcherylkasdorf.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/OxalateContent092003.pdf>.
  • Guinea Pigs & Vitamin C Supplementation, n.d., Mariposa Veterinary Welfare Center, viewed 25 June 2021, <https://www.mariposavet.com/guinea-pigs-vitamin-c-supplementation-know/>.
  • Listing of Vitamins 2020, Harvard Health Publishing, viewed 25 June 2021, <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/listing_of_vitamins>.
  • Hébert, J (DVM) n.d., Nutrition for Guinea Pig, Centre Vétérinaire Laval, viewed 25 June 2021, <https://cvlaval.com/en/exotic-services/fact-sheet/nutrition-guinea-pig.html>.
  • Whitehead, E (MRCVS) 2019, Bladder Stones in Guinea Pigs, The Guinea Pig Vet, viewed 25 June 2021, <https://www.theguineapigvet.co.uk/post/bladder-stones-in-guinea-pigs>.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture n.d., viewed 25 June 2021, <https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html>.
guinea pig chewing a cabbage but can guinea pigs eat cabbage safely?

Can guinea pigs eat cabbage? We’d love to hear your thoughts about it below!

Barry Stingmore
Barry Stingmore

Barry Stingmore is a British content writer living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats and has a passion for writing about animals big and small.

Barry loves finding answers to your animal-related questions, the more research involved the better! You can rely on him to find the facts.
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