Guinea pigs are by far one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding these cute furry friends some sweet treats like a crisp apple? But not all human foods are safe for guinea pigs. Can guinea pigs eat apple?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
WHAT IS A GUINEA PIG?
A guinea pig is a type of pocket pet that resides in the cavie family of animals.
They are small animals that grow to a maximum of approximately 10-11 inches long, and can weigh up to 2.5 pounds as an adult.
In captivity and with proper care it is fairly common to see these pets live to 8 – 10 years of age.
One of their main anatomical (body) “quirks” is that they are constantly needing to chew in order to file down their teeth, as their teeth are constantly erupting (growing longer).
They are quite playful animals and love to socialize with the ones that they know and love.
They make great pets for responsible pet owners, and those living in small dwellings wanting a loveable pet that comes in a small package.
What Do Guinea Pigs Typically Eat?
Guinea Pigs eat an assortment of things to keep them healthy and happy.
- High-quality guinea pig food and Timothy hay should be the main staples of their diet.
- Up to about 10% of their diet can be made up of an assortment of vegetables and fruits, with fruits and vegetables over 12-24 hours old being discarded as soon as possible.
- They require 30 – 50 mg of vitamin C daily from their diet, either in their guinea pig food, a vitamin supplement, or from fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C. I’ll get to this more here in a sec…
- Guinea pigs do best with diets low in fats and sugars.
- Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water. ‘Fresh water‘ means that is is changed daily. ‘Changed daily‘ means that new water is placed into a CLEAN water dispenser!
Let’s Talk Apples…
Apples are a common type of fruit here in the U.S.
Apples are a rounded fruit with a green or red exterior skin that can be thick or delicate, depending on variety, and a crisp fruit center that is juicy and watery.
Apples come in many different varieties, sizes, flavors, and therefore has been used in cooked for many different uses. Apples come from apple trees and have an internal core with apple seeds at the very center of its fruit.
Just like with any other fruit, apples have their nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of! Here are some of the highlights of an apples nutritional profile [source]:
Vitamin C is essential to your bearded dragon staying happy and healthy and an apple has a healthy amount of this vitamin.
Apples have a decent sugar and carbohydrate content as well.
Something to take note on and to keep in mind when feeding to bearded dragons who can come down with digestive upset with increased amounts of sugar!
An apple also contains a high percentage of water, which is great when looking to maintain hydration. But too much water can be troublesome!
Apples contain a high percentage fiber too!
Apples provide fiber which helps in constipation and improves gut motility. It is also why you feel full after eating an apple – that increased fiber helps keep you feeling full for longer, or “satiated”.
Too much fiber however, can lead to too much gut motility… and that’s not a good thing either!
Other Vitamins & Minerals:
It should be noted that apples contain other vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that is needed for healthy body function.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Apple?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of apple brings with it, wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your piggy?
Well, you can…. in moderation. This means – in SMALL amounts.
That’s right, feeding a small amount of apple as a treat to your guinea pig on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = A couple little cubes of apple is enough apple for one guinea pig.
In total, your guinea pig should have around 1/4 – 1/2 cup of fresh fruits and vegetables combined everyday, and no more than that.
If your pet does not eat all of their 1/4 – 1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables within 12-24 hours, then you need to dispose of it for them.
And that 1/4 – 1/2 cup should not consists solely of apple!
If your piggy does not eat the apple, it will only sit in their cage and get old and eventually become unsafe to eat.
The rest of their diet, the other 90% or so, should be made up of guinea pig food and hay.
You should feed this amount no more than 1-2 times per week and no two days in a row.
How About Apple Skin or Leaves?
The leaves and tough skin of the apple can be harsh and difficult to break down for your guinea pig and should not be offered to them.
These also can be a choking hazard so do not try it!
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Apple Cores?
Great question! Guinea pigs should not eat apple cores. Not only are they not the most appetizing part of the fruit, but they can become a choking hazard.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Apple Filling or Dried Apple?
No – only serve your guinea pig fresh, ripe apple!
Can Guinea Pigs Have Apple Juice?
Absolutely not. Apple juice contains high concentrations of sugars which can be detrimental to your guinea pig’s health.
Certain apple juices also contain additives and chemicals to preserve the product and increase its shelf life. These added chemicals have the potential to cause harm to your pet.
Can They Have Apple Pie or Apple Muffins?
Guinea pigs should not have any baked goods or pastries, even those that have apple in them.
Baked goods such as pies have flours, sugars, and fats in them that are harmful to your guinea pig.
How To Feed Apple To Guinea Pigs:
Some Guinea Pigs will love the taste of apple and other piggies will find the flavor too strong and may not be willing to eat it when put out in front of them.
For starters, make sure to wash the apple thoroughly, removing any possible dirt, chemicals, or pesticides. Then remove the tough, waxy skin from the crisp, tender flesh inside.
Then you should cut the apple into guinea pig bite-sized pieces. Make sure to use a clean knife and cutting board that are food-safe to do the cutting.
How Much Apple To Serve To Guinea Pigs?
Start off by offering your pet just a single small apple piece the first time, and then watch for about 12-24 hours for any adverse reactions, such as digestive upset, diarrhea, decreased energy, not eating, etc.
If your guinea pig shows any signs of distress or discomfort, then you’ll want to stop feeding the apple bites and contact your veterinarian about the current situation for further guidance.
As long as your guinea pig shows no signs of an adverse reaction, you can gradually increase the amount of apple bites you are offering until they’re enjoying a full guinea pig-sized serving- which still isn’t a lot of the fruit!
You should serve no more than 1 – 2 small bite-sized pieces of apple to your guinea pig a day and no more than around twice a week.
Those few times a week also need to be spaced out – no two days in a row!
- 1 fresh, store-bought apple
- kitchen fruit/vegetable knife
- cutting board
- You will need to have a visual inspection done to make sure that you are giving your guinea pig a ripe, healthy apple to eat.
- Next, you will need to remove the skin/peel, the core, and any seeds. Then cut, slice, chop, or dice up the apple so that your piggie can safely eat it, in bite-sized pieces.
- Offer your guinea pig one small piece of apple and observe for at least 24 hours for adverse signs. If no adverse signs arise, you can continue to give your guinea pig apple in moderation and according to your veterinarian's recommendation.
Contact your veterinarian before changing or modifying your pet's diet.
Are Apples Harmful To Guinea Pigs?
Yes, it can be harmful if not prepared, served, and monitored appropriately.
Remember that too much apple fed to guinea pigs can led to some negative side effects like upset stomach and GI tract, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
This can lead to a multitude of problems including things like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that could impart a trip to the veterinary clinic for your pocket pet vet to fix.
Also remember that apple is high in sugar – sugar is one of those items to limit in the guinea pig diet, espcially if your pig has metabolic issues or diabetes.
Due to the high acidic content from the natural acids in the apple, you will want to limit the amount of this fruit given to your pet to prevent mouth sores.
ALTERNATIVE FRUITS FOR GUINEA PIGS:
- Butternut Squash
So weigh the pros and cons of feeding apple to your pet before tossing them a sweet sweet snack, and if you do decide to give them a juicy treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.
If you have any questions or concerns with feeding your guinea pig apple, contact your veterinarian before attempting to feed it to your beloved pet.