Guinea pigs love sweet juicy produce as treats. But as many cavy owners know, not all produce that is safe for us to consume, is safe for our little furry buddies to eat. So what about ripe juicy oranges and orange-flavored products? Can guinea pigs eat oranges? Read on to find out!
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Let’s Talk Oranges:
Oranges are a orange-colored citrus fruit.
This round fruit has a tough, thick peel or rind, and juicy sweet edible fruit inside.
Oranges are used in many recipes, both food and in drinks, and even as garnishes on the rim of your favorite cocktail.
Oranges have a list of health benefits, but also have some health drawbacks too.
Orange Health Benefits:
Let’s take a look at an overview of the contents, nutrients, and minerals of oranges:
- High Sugar Content: This is not that surprising as it’s a fruit, and most fruit have a fairly high sugar content.
- Lower in Fiber: content is fairly low. Fiber is important because it helps with digestion and makes blood sugar release slow down.
- High in Potassium: This is great but fact of the matter is that you are not going to feet it that but orange. So you’ll still need to look for other foods for potassium.
- Low Fat: Guinea pigs are predisposed to obesity, so foods lower in fat are often a good choice for these furry friends.
- High Source of Vitamin C: The vitamin C content is extremely high compared to most other fruits and vegetables. Remember – guinea pigs require vitamin C in their diets.
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!
The Importance of Vitamin C For Guinea Pigs
Like humans and certain other animals like birds and bats, guinea pigs do not have the ability to make vitamin C.
Instead, guinea pigs must get this essential nutrient from the foods they eat in their diet.
Guinea pigs in the wild get their vitamin C from fresh grass sources.
Pet guinea pigs receive supplemental vitamin C from leafy greens, fruit and veggies, specialty fortified pellets or supplemental droplets placed in their water bottles.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oranges?
After reading up on some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of oranges can bring with it, wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your pet guinea pig?
Well, you can feed your guinea pig oranges…. but only in moderation. This means – in SMALL amounts!
Moderation = 1-2 bites of orange is enough of this fruit for one guinea pig.
Because oranges have high acidity, you should not feed it them excess to guinea pig because serious health issues can arise.
Feeding Tip: feed the orange pieces with other vegetables to lower the acidic impact on your guinea pig’s stomach and the rest of the digestive tract.
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.
And that 1/4 – 1/2 cup should not consists solely of pieces of orange!
Remember, orange pieces are an acceptable treat to feed to guinea pigs as long as it is an occasional treat.
If your piggy does not eat the orange, it will only sit in their cage and get old and eventually become unsafe to eat.
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.
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.
Is It Healthy For a Guinea Pig to Eat Oranges?
Even though oranges are highly acidic, they do have some health benefits.
Oranges contain some essential nutrients including calcium and Vitamin C that can be helpful in keeping your cavy healthy.
Oranges also have some other potential health benefits for your pet guinea pig too:
Like I mentioned above, the main advantage of oranges are that they contain high amounts of vitamin C [source].
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning that guinea pigs MUST have it in order to be healthy and for their body systems to function properly.
Vitamin C helps support a healthy immune system and is in general “essential” because your guinea pig cannot produce it themselves.
Scurvy is just one example of a disease or health concern seen among guinea pigs which occurs due to lack of vitamin C in their systems.
Oranges also contain a considerable amount of vitamin A and vitamin B-6 which aid in overall growth and contribute towards a healthy metabolism for your guinea pig.
Oranges have some other lesser-known health benefits too.
Oranges are high in sugar and calories, which is usually thought of as a negative effect.
However, these extra calories may give your furry friend the calorie intake that they need for an energy boost.
Oranges also contain high calcium and other minerals.
Calcium and phosphorous are an integral part of a diet which is necessary for proper bone development, Teeth growth, and other nervous system needs.
Too much calcium in your guinea pig’s diet has the potential to lead to the formation of bladder stones, so it must be consumed in small amounts.
How About Orange Peels?
Guinea Pigs love having little things in their mouths to chew on and to keep them busy and entertained throughout their days!
Your guinea pig can safely eat orange peels if properly prepared for your pet.
The orange’s peel contains high amounts of vitamin C, so it’s important not to overdo it on feeding your pig the peel.
Feed them just a few small pieces of the peel to prevent any unwanted health issues from unintentionally erupting.
Peels could contain pesticides, so if serving your pig orange peels, make sure to wash them thoroughly before serving it.
Many guinea pigs don’t like the taste of the peel so don’t worry if your piggie doesn’t eat the rind.
Can they Eat Orange Seeds?
No, guinea pigs should not be offered orange seeds to eat.
The reasoning behind this is that the seeds are hard, slippery, and large in comparison to the guinea pig’s small size.
This equates to a choking hazard for you pet, so it’s best to remove the seeds before offering your guinea pig a sweet taste of this fruit.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Oranges?
No, guinea pigs can not eat canned oranges because they contain high amounts of acid, sugar, sodium and preservatives that have been added to stretch out the shelf life of the oranges.
They come in a sugary syrup and all of this can create huge problems for your guinea pig.
Do NOT feed your pet canned oranges… ever.
Can Guinea Pigs Drink Orange Juice?
You also do not want to give your guinea pig orange juice.
Orange juice has too much sugar for their digestive systems to handle, and some juices even contain additional ingredients that may be harmful for them as well.
Can Guinea Pigs Have Orange Marmalade?
No, no, no. On top of the orange in the marmalade, but the added sugar is dangerous for your guinea pig.
Can They Have Orange Juice Concentrate?
Nope – Guinea pigs shouldn’t have orange juice and they should have orange juice concentrate for the same reasons.
How To Feed Oranges To Guinea Pigs:
Some Guinea Pigs will love the taste of oranges and other piggies will find their favorite citrus flavor elsewhere.
However, it is most often one of their favorite fruits to snack on.
So how do you safely feed oranges to your pet guinea pig?
- Fresh, store-bought oranges
- kitchen produce knife
- cutting board
- Clean and wash your oranges to rid them of chemicals and pesticides.
- Remove the orange peel from the orange.
- Slice the orange into small pieces or slices so that they’re easy to swallow and ingest.
- Diligently remove any seeds that may be in the orange pieces.
- Offer your guinea pig one small slice to see if your guinea pig likes the fruit. Wait 24 hours or more to see how your pet does after being introduced to this new food. If no signs of diarrhea, inappetance, lethargy, etc., then you can feed your guinea pig another piece of orange in a few days.
- Remove any uneaten fruit from the guinea pigs cage to prevent bacteria bloom in the food and decrease the attraction of flies.
Consult with your veterinarian before changing or adding new foods to your pet's diet. Contact your vet immediately if you note any adverse effects after introducing your guinea pig to a new food.
Make sure to use a clean knife and cutting board that are food-safe to do the cutting.
Then you can cut the orange into small bite-sized pieces, seeds removed, before offering your piggie one piece of orange.
How Much Orange To Serve To Your Guinea Pig?
When introducing your guinea pig to anything new, you’ll always want to take it slowly and be very careful.
Start off by offering your pet just a single bite of orange 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 cavy shows any signs of distress or discomfort, then you’ll want to stop feeding the orange pieces and contact your veterinarian about the current situation for further guidance.
That being said, most guinea pigs take to oranges very well.
As long as your guinea pig shows no signs of an adverse reaction, you can gradually increase the amount of oranges you are offering until they’re enjoying a full serving- which still isn’t a lot of the fruit!
It’s best to give oranges once or a few times a week and to not exceed that.
You should serve no more than 1 – 2 small bite-sized pieces of orange to your guinea pig a day and no more than once or twice a week.
Those few times a week also need to be spaced out – no two days in a row!
Are Oranges Harmful To Guinea Pigs?
Yes, it can be harmful if not prepared, served, and monitored appropriately.
Too big of pieces could lead to the potential of being a choking hazard. Not good!
Feeding too many oranges has its own set of issues to.
Guinea pigs can show digestive upset like diarrhea, decreased eating or anorexia, dehydration, lethargy, etc., that can lead to more dangerous health issues of not treated by your veterinarian.
Due to the sugar content and the small bodies of the guinea pig, guinea pigs are prone to becoming overweight (and also diabetes!) from eating too many fruits and snacks, such as oranges, which have quite a bit of sugar.
Fruits, especially citrus like oranges, contain acids which can give your guinea pig some uncomfortable side effects.
Increased acidity can lead to teeth problems, mouth sores, and a slew of other medical issues.
If your guinea pig shows signs of any of these after introducing them to any new food in their diet, contact your local veterinarian immediately for more help.
There are some major health risks to consider before feeding your guinea pig any citrus fruits.
Oranges can be unhealthy in large amounts, despite their many health benefits.
Alternative Foods For Guinea Pigs:
There are many fruits, veggies, and herbs that are good for your guinea pig and for you!
Unfortunately, some foods are toxic to guinea pigs that are not harmful to us.
For this reason, it is very important to research every new food you plan to give your guinea pig and its corresponding serving size.
Find out about other common foods that you may find in your kitchen.
Are these foods safe to feed your guinea pig?
Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of feeding oranges to your guinea pig before tossing them a delicious fruity snack, and if you do decide to give them a yummy treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.
Moderation is small amounts on every once in a while.
If your pet experiences a change in their everyday activities, such as activity level, sleeping patterns, elimination patterns, or behavior, after eating a new food such as oranges, contact your veterinarian immediately for assistance on what to do next.
If you have any questions or concerns with feeding your guinea pig this juicy citrus, contact your veterinarian before attempting to feed it to your loved pet.