Guinea pigs are one of the most cutest of all pocket pets. As cute as they are, it is easy to want to give them all the delicious human foods we enjoy, like pumpkin! Nonetheless, numerous human foods aren’t safe for your guinea pig to eat. So, can guinea pigs eat pumpkin?
Dr. Jess will answer all the details of this question 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 a healthy adult.
In captivity and with proper care it is quite common to see these pets live up 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 their teeth down, as their teeth are constantly erupting (growing longer and 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?
These little buddies 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!
What is Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is a winter squash that grows along a vine on the ground.
It is in the Cucurbitaceae plant family and is actually considered a fruit just like spaghetti squash, melons, and cucumber.
It can range in color from yellows to vibrant tan, orange, greens, whites, and creams on the outside and a softer pulp and slippery seeds on the inside.
The typical pumpkin is round or oval in shape, with a curved stem still attached to the top of the squash.
This variable-shaped squash is treated as a vegetable in most U.S. cooking groups and is a popular “vegetable” served alongside main courses, typically canned, pureed, or roasted for human consumption.
According to Wikipedia’s description of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin:
In a 100-gram amount, raw pumpkin provides 110 kilojoules (26 kilocalories) of food energy and is an excellent source (20% or more the Daily Value, DV) of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A (53% DV) (table). Vitamin C is present in moderate content (11% DV), but no other nutrients are in significant amounts (less than 10% DV, table). Pumpkin is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrate, 0.1% fat and 1% protein (table).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin
Pumpkin has quite a large supply of vitamin A that can help support vision and your pet guinea pig’s immune system.
It also contains another important vitamin, vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an extremely important vitamin for guinea pigs to have in their diets as they can not make it in their bodies and must get it from outside sources in their diet.
Pumpkin is also rich in different antioxidants [source].
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help protect the body from damage by free radicals, which can cause degenerative diseases.
Pumpkin also has a decent amount of fiber to help with digestion and can sometimes help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Pumpkin?
Most guinea pigs like the softer, tender inside of the pumpkin. Many guinea pigs don’t tend to favor the outer thin skin of the fruit.
Is Pumpkin Healthy For Guinea Pigs to Eat?
Pumpkin contains a low amount of sugar and salt so it a better snack if your pet is overweight or has diabetes than other treats with higher sugar content.
Pumpkin also has a high water content to help keep your little friend hydrated.
As mentioned in the nutritional content of pumpkin section, pumpkin has a high amount of vitamin A in it – a vitamin that helps with the protection of the immune system and with a healthy vision profile.
Pumpkin has a fiber content that will help your cavy keep their digestive system running smoothly and can also help with keep blood sugar level stable if you have a worrisome diabetic guinea pig.
Pumpkin is packed with a multitude of nutrients which are great for the health of your pet guinea pig.
Can Pumpkin Skin Be Served To Guinea Pigs?
While guinea pigs may not like is the skin, it is not toxic and you can feed it to your cavies safely if they chose to eat it.
It is entirely possible for your personal pet not to like pumpkin altogether, so you will have to experiment with your pet’s affinity for the fruit.
How To Serve Pumpkin to a Guinea Pig:
Serve only fresh, raw pumpkin to your pet guinea pig.
Begin by washing the pumpkin thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the pumpkin.
Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem.
You don’t have to peel the pumpkin but if you have a pickier piggie that eats around the skin then you can peel it if you feel compelled.
Cut the pumpkin into thin slices or small bite-sized cubes.
You may want to remove the seeds present for the sake of tidiness or pickiness.
Remove any uneaten pumpkin from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on it.
- store-bought fresh pumpkin
- kitchen vegetable knife
- cutting board
- Begin by washing the pumpkin thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the squash.
- Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem and any hard, thick outer peel or shell should be removed from the pieces you are planning to offer your guinea pig.
- Cut the pumpkin into bite-sized pieces.
- You will want to remove the seeds present for the sake of tidiness, pickiness, and most importantly because they are a choking hazard.
- Remove any uneaten pumpkin from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on the uneaten squash.
Contact your veterinarian to discuss any changes in your pet's diet before adding or making changes to their food routine. Monitor your pet for adverse reactions and side effects - if observed, contact your local veterinarian immediately.
Can Pumpkin Be Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Pumpkin is a relatively safe treat to feed your pig in moderation.
One worry that comes up from time to time is the unfortunate allergic reaction, which can happen when any pet eats something for the first time, not just pumpkin.
It usually catches everyone by surprise when it does happen so contact your veterinarian if you sense that your pet is not themselves after ingesting something new or different to be on the safe side.
Another worry is the choking hazard which also exists with everything that a guinea pig puts into their mouth. Guinea pigs are fully capable of consuming the skin, the inner fruit, and the seeds of pumpkin.
Too much of a good thing should be another warning to guinea parents. Feeding too much squash to your pet can lead to gastric upset with signs of vomiting or diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and other health issues.
Other concerns are the amounts and ratios of minerals in certain fruits and vegetables, including pumpkin.
Because we need to keep balanced mineral ratios in our guinea pig’s diet, it is highly recommended that you do not go overboard with feeding pumpkin to them, only in moderation please!
How Much Pumpkin Can a Guinea Pig Have?
Like with every type of food you should never go overboard.
Fruits, like squash, and vegetables are only supplements in their diet (see “Guinea Pig Diet” section above for reference).
If you increase the intake of vegetables and fruits too much, their diet of mainly of hay and feed will become disproportionate, giving your guinea pig the chance of suffering from various disorders discussed later.
If you are thinking about introducing pumpkin or any other new food into your pet’s diet, make sure that you do so gradually.
Start out with a small bite-sized piece and wait 24 hours to see how the guinea pig reacts.
If your furry friend enjoys the pumpkin treat and doesn’t show signs of abnormal behavior, then try a second small piece of squash in the next day or two.
A common rule of thumb is to serve no more than approximately 100 grams of squash to our guinea pig in a day. That is about 2 small bite-sized pieces per offering.
Try to mix up the offered squash pieces with other vegetables and prepare a salad for your guinea pig.
The right combination of pumpkin and other safe vegetables such as pieces of cucumbers, bell peppers and lettuce would be a great addon to your guinea pigs diet.
How Often to Feed Guinea Pigs Pumpkin:
It is pretty safe to say that pumpkin can be used as a more frequent treat for your guinea pig over many other choices of fruit and vegetable treats.
You can safely feed a snack-sized portion of pumpkin to your guinea pig 1-2 times per week but remember to gradually work up to this frequency.
Strict monitoring should be done to avoid negative effects because too much of this food could lead to gastrointestinal (GI) upset with symptoms such as decreased appetite and energy levels as well as diarrhea and/or vomiting.
No fun, right?!?
For instance, if you are serving your guinea pig squash 3 times per week but your furry friend doesn’t eat the offered squash 3 times per week, then back down the offerings to 2 times per week and see how they react to the fruit at a decreased frequency.
This may help with ‘the desire’ to eat the pumpkin pieces.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Because the seeds as slippery and small, they tend to become a choking hazard for guinea pigs. Therefore I highly recommend steering away from offering your guinea pig pumpkin seeds. Just don’t do it.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Pumpkin?
It’s not the best choice! It may contain things besides pumpkin itself, including preservatives to keep it from spoiling, which is not the best for your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Pumpkin Pie Filling?
Absolutely not! It is full of things besides just pumpkin itself, including sugar, which is not a good choice for your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Pumpkin?
Not only does the heat used to cook the cooked pumpkin decrease the amounts of nutrients your guinea pig will get out of the treat, but it will be less appetizing to your guinea pig as well.
Fruit & Vegetable Alternatives For Guinea Pigs:
- Butternut Squash
Your cute little guinea pig deserves the best – best home, best health, and best treats.
Treating your pet to some of your favorite snacks, like pumpkin, is just fine as long as that store-bought and properly-cleaned pumpkin is prepared properly, served correctly (correct amounts and correct frequency), and only fed to healthy piggies.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local vet before feeding pumpkin to your buddy.