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Humans may enjoy some cashews and peanuts in our trail mixes of choice, but can our guinea pigs enjoy nuts as well? While nuts aren’t necessarily toxic for guinea pigs, they really shouldn’t have any—in fact, guinea pigs should avoid nuts in general!
Read on to learn more about why guinea pigs should avoid nuts, and for some ideas on other foods that they can munch on instead! It’s important to make sure that your guinea pig is eating a healthy, balanced diet that provides all the nutrients that they need to be in their best shape!
Why should guinea pigs avoid nuts?
As you may know, for humans, nuts are pretty nutritious! They have a multitude of health benefits for us, but not so much for our piggies. Generally, nuts are high in carbohydrates, as well as fats—this is unideal since guinea pigs are healthier and live longer when their diets consist of low carbohydrates and high fiber contents to keep their digestion regular and functioning. This is why nuts aren’t the ideal choice for guinea pigs.
Again, nuts aren’t toxic, but they simply don’t add any good things to a guinea pig’s health and their diet. The consumption of too many nuts can lead to some health problems that your guinea pig would have less exposure to if nuts had been excluded from their diet. Don’t even get us started on things like peanut butter, or nut butters in general! Don’t feed your guinea pig nut butters—save that for your own apples and sandwiches.
Guinea pigs’ bodies aren’t exactly the best at digesting certain elements of food—one common example is sugar. They can’t process and break it down as well as their humans can, and it’s the same idea with the fats and salt that nuts contain. Because they’re unable to digest these components well, consuming nuts and other similar foods with things like fat and salt can cause some pretty uncomfortable and serious digestive issues, such as diarrhea.
Guinea pigs are pretty similar to humans in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to health! Just like humans, it’s possible for guinea pigs to have allergies to nuts, and they can show some symptoms that are similar to human allergies. These symptoms include some difficulties breathing and some itching.
Obviously, breathing issues are pretty serious and can be not only dangerous, but can become fatal in some cases. It’s important that if you encounter this that you call and consult your veterinarian right away.
As you know, these stones can come from the overconsumption of foods with calcium, and some nuts do contain calcium! Bladder stones can accumulate and form in the bladder as well as the kidneys, and sometimes form large enough that they can clog up the urethra. This is especially the case in male guinea pigs, but can also happen to females.
If the stones are small enough, your guinea pig will be able to pass it whenever they urinate, but there are cases where the stones are so large that they clog the urethra and get stuck. This can be very painful for your guinea pig, especially because it keeps them from being able to urinate properly.
It’s cases such as these that bladder stones can be fatal. In order to remove the larger stones, your guinea pig will have to go through surgery to get them removed. If untreated and unremoved, the stones can cause kidney failure, which is detrimental to their health, and even fatal.
Excessive calcium doesn’t just cause stones to form, but it can lead to there being blood in the urine, as well as cause pain during urination due to overall infection.
One of the more common symptoms that appears because of the consumption of nuts by guinea pigs is the development of digestive issues. These digestive problems occur because the unfamiliar components of high fats and salt can throw their digestive process off due to the inability to properly break them down.
When your guinea pig’s body is unable to digest different components of their foods, it can cause them to suffer from diarrhea and stomach pains. With diarrhea comes its own issues, such as dehydration due to losing their body’s water content.
As mentioned several times before, nuts contain fats and even sugars in some cases, and both of these are a double whammy to your guinea pig’s health. It can cause your guinea pig to gain weight and even become overweight or obese. When a guinea pig is overweight or obese, they tend to be susceptible to more health issues, which you can read about here.
It’s important to keep your guinea pig as healthy as possible because you want to avoid secondary health issues that stem from others, which renders your guinea pig’s body weaker than it needs to be.
Are nuts good for guinea pigs in any way?
As mentioned above, nuts have very few health benefits for guinea pigs. However, some nuts contain fiber, which is always good for guinea pigs. Fiber ensures that your guinea pig is able to properly digest all the different foods that they consume in their diet, but there are other ways that your guinea pig can get fiber without munching on some peanuts!
It’s well known that guinea pig diets should largely consist of hay because it not only helps them maintain their teeth, but it also helps with the fiber content of their diet. Fiber helps with digestion, obviously, but why is it so important for guinea pigs?
Guinea pigs are one of the kinds of animals that eat their own poop! You may be thinking, yuck, but this is a very necessary part of their digestive process! The first time that guinea pigs eat their food, they’re not able to fully absorb all the nutrients, so the first round of poop they excrete contains the rest of the nutrients they need.
By eating this poop, they’re able to absorb the rest of the nutrients. You may not catch them doing this with your own eyes because they eat it as soon as the poop comes out!
Nuts also have high magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and copper content, but your guinea pig is able to get what they need from their other foods. Nuts aren’t necessary, even for this purpose!
What should guinea pigs munch on instead?
Guinea pigs love munching on their foods, which is why many piggies' favorite fresh vegetables are crunchy! These favorite guinea pig vegetables include ones like lettuce, carrots, cucumber, and other munchable produce. Check out our Vegetable Master List.
So we recommend GuineaDad Hay and GuineaDad Treats, which provide the perfect texture and crunch for your guinea pigs. Let your guinea pig munch on their veggies and hay instead, or even let them have a chomp on their hideys—There are so many other options, and they don't have to include nuts!
Guinea pigs shouldn’t eat nuts!
Again, nuts aren’t necessarily toxic for guinea pigs, but they aren’t nutritionally beneficial either—at least not enough that they’d be worth eating even with the risks in mind. Remember, there are a lot more risks than there are benefits, so it’s best if your guinea pig steers clear of the nuts!
Have them munch on their delicious hay instead, or on their fresh fruits and vegetables. Those are so much better for them!
If you’d like more information on what you should be feeding your guinea pig, you can read more here! It’s important that you’re feeding your guinea pig a healthy, balanced diet because it’s one of the easiest ways to ensure that your guinea pig is going to live a long, happy life! Not only are they going to be healthy, their lifespan will also be increased!