Can You Feed Guinea Pigs Cilantro?

Watching our cavies chow down on fresh fruit and leafy greens is one of the pleasures of having them, but can Guinea Pigs eat cilantro?

What about coriander seeds or the stem of cilantro?

We may enjoy giving our cavies loads of green treats, but it’s essential to understand that not everything good for us is good for them.

Some fruits and veggies contain harmful toxins for our pets, so we must educate ourselves on which leafy vegetables are safe for our pets.

READ MORE: Guinea Pig Diet List

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cilantro?

guinea pig smelling cilantro but can guinea pigs eat cilantro?

Yes, for the most part, Guinea Pigs can eat cilantro—also called coriander or Chinese parsley— in moderate portions.

It is one of the safest herbs to give them and can be added to their daily rations of fresh fruit and vegetables.  

This means small pieces of cilantro can be added to other fresh, well-washed, leafy, and colored greens.

These should only supplement the cavy’s main diets of unlimited low-calcium hay such as timothy and limited pellets. Not all vegetables or fruit are good, however, and many make your guinea pig sick. 

For example, fruit can be too high in sugar content and disrupt a guinea pig’s digestive tract.

Citrus fruit can also be too acidic and cause mouth sores. Vegetables that are high in oxalic acids, such as parsley or spinach, can cause kidney stones.

Although cilantro contains chemicals that keep it fresher for longer, it’s good to remember that younger plants have less oxalic acid in general, so always try to feed the freshest sprigs of cilantro you can and remove it before it wilts.

You should also wash it off with fresh water to remove any pesticides or harmful toxins from the plant. 

Which Parts of Cilantro Are Safe for Guinea Pigs to Eat?

fresh cilantros on a wooden chopping board

In general, every part of the cilantro plant is safe for a guinea pig to eat.

Unfortunately, not enough is known about the nutritional value of cilantro root to say for sure whether it is safe for cavies, so it may be best to avoid the roots.

However, cilantro leaves and cilantro flowers are perfectly safe in bite-sized pieces. 

Likewise, the stems of cilantro can be chopped up into medium-sized pieces for your cavy to nibble on.

It’s always good to exercise common sense and remember that dried cilantro or coriander seeds would not form a normal part of your cavy’s diet, so it’s best to avoid those. 

Can Cilantro Form Part of a Balanced diet for Guinea Pigs?

When given in moderate portions, cilantro can be beneficial and form part of your cavy’s balanced diet. In general, cavies should be allowed to feed on low-calcium hay such as timothy throughout the day. 

This will provide the majority of the roughage they need for a healthy digestive tract. They can also be given smaller amounts of high-fiber, timothy-based quality pellets as part of their diet.

Cavies do need a vitamin C supplement tablet or a squirt of liquid vitamin C every second day. This supplement should not be given in their drinking water as vitamin C is unstable and degrades quickly. 

While feeding your guinea pig cilantro and other fresh produce does supply them with vitamin C, they cannot get enough of it this way.

 So while cilantro does have health benefits, and feeding small amounts most days is usually fine, it should never form the bulk of your guinea pig’s diet.

READ MORE: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage?

Does Cilantro Have Health Benefits of Cilantro For Guinea Pigs?

Yes, there are many possible benefits to adding fresh cilantro to your pet guinea pig’s diet. A few of these include:

Vitamin C

According to Nutrition Data, about 9 sprigs of cilantro (0.7 ounces or 9 grams) contains about 5.4 mg of Vitamin C. Depending on a cavy’s age and health, they need between 10 and 50 mg of vitamin C per day. 

This means that a major benefit of cilantro a few sprigs of cilantro can help you get a decent proportion of your guinea pig’s daily count. 

A deficiency of vitamin C can cause scurvy. Scurvy in cavies interferes with the body’s ability to create collagen—essential for bone health and tissue formation. It can also skin and joint problems, as well as blood-clotting issues. 

But remember, there is usually not enough vitamin C in your cavy’s green treats alone to make up for their daily needs, so be sure to add that supplement and keep all their food fresh. 

Vitamin A & Vitamin K

Cilantro is also a good source of vitamin A, and vitamin K. Guinea Pigs need between 6 and 7 mg of vitamin A/kg, which is essential for their eye health and proper growth and weight maintenance. 

While cilantro is quite high in vitamin A, it’s not enough on its own to meet your cavy’s daily requirements. But it is a good start.

Likewise, cilantro is relatively high in vitamin K, even though they will likely need a bit more from other sources in their diets.

There isn’t an exact standard for how much vitamin K to give a cavy, but it does help with bone health and regulating blood calcium levels.

Low Sugar and Calories

One of the major benefits of cilantro for cavies is that it is pretty low in calories and sugar.

This means it can provide a healthy nutrient source while still managing steady blood sugar levels and preventing your cavy from gaining weight. 

In addition, studies on other rodents show these possible health benefits of cilantro:

  • May reduce seizures and improve brain health and memories
  • May lower blood sugar by stimulating an enzyme that removes sugars from the blood.
  • May have an antimicrobial effect that can reduce the chances of food poisoning.

The minerals in cilantro such as folate, potassium, and manganese can also have significant benefits in your cavy’s daily diet.

Check these cute guinea pigs:

Does Cilantro Have Health Risks for Guinea Pigs?

Unfortunately, cilantro is more than just a healthy, aromatic herb we can feed our pet to keep our cavy healthy.

While a few coriander leaves are usually good are part of their overall diet, there are some risks we need to assess first.

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid or oxalates is a chemical that occurs naturally in plants.

However, as a rule, guinea pigs should eat no more than 50mg (0.0018 ounces) per day, as more can be fatal to them. Luckily, cilantro only has about 0.01 mg per 100 grams. 

Foods that are high in oxalic acid and should be fed extremely sparingly include:

  • Sweet potato
  • Parsley
  • Chives
  • Spinach

Calcium & Phosphorus

Likewise, the levels of essential nutrients such as calcium to phosphorous need to be monitored.

There always needs to be higher levels of calcium than phosphorus to prevent the formation of phosphate stones.  The ideal ratio of calcium to phosphorus is 0.5:1, while in cilantro the ratio is 1.4:1.

This means is best to feed cilantro sparingly to avoid phosphate kidney stones.

Allergies

Anytime you introduce something new to your cavy’s diet, be on the lookout for an allergic reaction. Although rare, your guinea pig may display the following symptoms if they are allergic to cilantro:

  1. Skin issues and rashes
  2. Loose stools
  3. Labored breathing.

If you suspect your guinea pig has an allergic reaction, remove the cilantro immediately. If the symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian.

Pregnant Guinea pigs

Cilantro might be a risk for pregnant guinea pigs as it could slow down blood clotting and cause hemorrhaging in the guinea pig’s body. 

How Much Cilantro Should a Guinea Pig Eat (Portion Size)?

guinea pig eating cabbage and cilantro

A guinea pig should eat a total of about one cup of green leafy vegetables a day. Of this, only a small amount should be made up of cilantro.

Try to only feed a few bite-sized sprigs of cilantro leaves, or diced stems of cilantro along with other greens such as kale, romaine lettuce, or rocket.

FAQs 

What foods are poisonous to guinea pigs?

Several foods are poisonous for guinea pigs. Some include:
Cereals
Nuts
Avocadoes
Potatoes
Radishes
Rhubarb
Sweet Peas
Cabbage
Dried beans, corn, or peas
Alliums (garlic, chives, leeks, or onions)
Remember, many garden plants are poisonous too, so if in doubt, keep it out of your cavy’s sight!

Can you give guinea pigs cilantro every day?

So long are your adult guinea pig is no pregnant or allergic, it is safe to give them small amounts of cilantro most days. It should be considered a tiny green treat and mixed with other leafy green vegetables your guinea pig can eat.

What herbs are good for guinea pigs?

Aside from cilantro, other herbs you can consider giving your pet include:
Dandelion
Fennel
Dill
Rocket
Thyme
Endive
Mint
Basil
But careful of herbs like oregano that are very high in calcium and may lead to stones.

Conclusion

In short, yes, guinea pigs can eat cilantro, but with a few precautions. Ensure they only get a few sprigs of coriander leaves added to other leafy green vegetables suitable for cavies to eat.

Remember, the bulk of their diet should always come from low-calcium hay. All vegetables should be researched before feeding them to your cavy. 

References

  • “Coriander (Cilantro) Leaves, Raw [Chinese Parsley, Raw, Cilantro, Raw] Nutrition Facts & Calories.” 2018. Self.com. 2018. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2414/2.
  • “Guinea Lynx ::Oxalic Acid in Selected Vegetables.” 2021. Guinealynx.info. 2021. http://www.guinealynx.info/diet_oxalic.html.
  • National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition. 2021. “Nutrient Requirements of the Guinea Pig.” Nih.gov. National Academies Press (US). 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK231932/.
guinea pig with a bunch of fresh cilantros

Can guinea pigs eat cilantro? 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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