The short and sweet answer is yes! Guinea pigs can eat watercress in moderate amounts. However, there are several health benefits, as well as drawbacks to consider before you head to the grocery store to buy it for your piggy.
We've also got a Vegetable Master List that lists common veggies that your piggy can and can't eat!
What vitamins and other nutrients does watercress contain?
This helps boost their immune system! It strengthens their white blood cells so they can fight off illnesses, and helps them absorb iron. Whether you’re a new piggy parent or an experienced one, you should know that maintaining your guinea pigs’ immune system is one of the best ways to keep them healthy.
Guinea pigs are so susceptible to infections, and their body needs to be equipped to fight them off if they ever get sick! Vitamin C is also vital in your guinea pig’s ability to absorb iron—this is important because iron aids in the formation of the proteins in your guinea pigs’ blood that are responsible for oxygen transportation. There is 43 mg of Vitamin C per 100 g portion of watercress.
This helps promote bone growth and development! However, foods containing calcium should be consumed with careful moderation to prevent overconsumption and side effects. Calcium needs in guinea pigs can vary as well, depending on whether they’re young, old, or pregnant!
These three groups of guinea pigs tend to need more calcium because they need to strengthen their bone health for various reasons. For example, a pregnant guinea pig will need more calcium because she needs calcium for her babies and nursing, and for her own recovery after the birth! For more information on why calcium is important for guinea pigs, check out this post. Watercress contains 120 mg of calcium per 100 g portion of watercress.
This also helps with bone growth, but also aids balancing out their calcium consumption. Calcium and phosphorus work hand-in-hand when it comes to bone formation and growth, and it’s important that both levels are balanced so they can work properly, without any of the side effects to your guinea pig’s urinary tract.
Your guinea pig’s vegetable consumption has an ideal calcium-to-phosphorus ratio (Ca:P), which you can read more about here. There’s 60 mg of phosphorus in a 100 g portion of watercress.
What other benefits does watercress provide for your guinea pig?
Watercress has several benefits for your piggy aside from the vitamins listed! As the leafy green’s name suggests, watercress is high in water content. This means that it’ll help with hydration aside from the regular water that they drink as part of their diet. The leafy green is also rich with antioxidants, which helps prevent chronic diseases! Studies have also shown that they can contribute to reducing cancerous growths. Watercress also helps guinea pigs maintain cardiovascular health.
What are the downsides about watercress for guinea pigs?
Even with all the wonderful health benefits that watercress provides to your piggies, there are a few drawbacks. Eating too much watercress can lead to some digestion problems, such as bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting.
If any of these occur, it’s recommended that you reduce the amount you’re giving them. If the problems persist, you should stop feeding it to them altogether. Watercress also has an acidity to them, which can cause some discomfort and pain in their little stomachs.
How should you go about feeding your guinea pig watercress?
Watercress can be given to your guinea pigs one to two times a week in small amounts, such as two or three stalks and leaves as part of their regular one cup of fresh fruits and veggies. Remember that guinea pigs need a cup of fruits and vegetables per day, in addition to their regular hay and pellets. This ensures that they get their nutrients from a variety of sources and balances out the positives and negatives of all food.
Overall, it is OK to feed your guinea pigs watercress!
Just like with all foods, it’s important to monitor your piggy to ensure that they’re responding well to the introduction of a new veggie, and to make sure there aren’t any harmful side effects.
What else can guinea pigs eat?
Check out our Vegetable Master List for an extensive list of vegetables for guinea pigs!