Guinea pigs are one of the most loved 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 radishes! Nonetheless, numerous human foods aren’t safe for your guinea pig to eat. So, can guinea pigs eat radishes?
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!
Let’s Talk Radishes:
Radishes are a type of root vegetable that are pulled from the ground when harvested for food.
Radishes come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes.
Here in the United States, the popular radish is about the size of a golf ball, is round, and typically red. Other radishes take on a white/cream color or can be purple or black-looking as well.
Some radishes give off a light sweet taste, while others have a more unami or earthy-peppery flavor profile to them.
Radish have many well-known health benefits associated with them. But let’s start with their nutritional profile. According to Wikipedia a radish contains:
“In a 100-gram (3 1⁄2-ounce) reference serving, raw radishes provide 66 kilojoules (16 kilocalories) of food energy and have a moderate amount of vitamin C (18% of Daily Value), with other essential nutrients in low content (table). A raw radish is 95% water, 3% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and has negligible fat.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radish
Good Source of Vitamin C:
Radishes have a nice amount of vitamin C in them – a vitamin that helps with the protection of important body systems that keep the body running and functioning appropriately.
Low in Calories:
Too many calories can lead to weight gain – that’s a well known fact. So if you have an overweight bunny, this treat may be a good option for you!
Radishes are rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium.
Put that all together and radish can help lower things like blood pressure – therefore decreasing some of the risks that predispose to heart disease and high blood pressure
Helps Digestive Function:
Contains fiber to help aid in digestion.
As hindgut fermenters, rabbits need a large amount of fiber in their diets to keep their gastrointestinal tract healthy and moving and digesting food appropriately.
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Radishes contain glucosinolate and isothiocyanate, chemicals that may help regulate blood sugar levels. This will come in handy if you have a diabetic pet!
Do Guinea Pigs Like Radishes?
Some guinea pigs like radishes.
Most guinea pigs prefer the greens coming off of the top of the radish over the actual root vegetable itself.
Are Radishes Healthy For Guinea Pigs to Eat?
Radishes contain a low amount of calories and fat so it a better snack if your pet is overweight or has diabetes than other treats with higher caloric content.
Radishes also have a high water content to help keep your little friend hydrated.
As mentioned in the nutritional content of radishes section, radishes have a high amount of vitamins, like vitamin C in it – a vitamin that helps with the protection of important body systems that keep the body running and functioning appropriately.
Vitamin C is essential in preventing a disease termed scurvy in guinea pigs. Scurvy typically shows up in guinea pigs as lameness, joint pain, weight loss, or hair coat issues.
Radishes have 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.
Radishes are packed with a multitude of nutrients which are great for the health of your pet guinea pig.
Can Cooked Radishes Be Served To Guinea Pigs?
It is not advisable to serve cooked radish to guinea pigs.
Not only do nutrients leave the radish if overcooked, but cooked radish is also difficult for guinea pigs to digest properly, leading to gas and bloat, and other symptoms of gastric upset, such as anorexia, constipation, diarrhea, and/or vomiting.
How To Serve Radishes to Guinea Pigs:
Serve only fresh, raw radishes to your pet guinea pig.
Begin by washing the radish thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the asparagus.
Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem.
Cut the radish into small bite-sized pieces. Do not add any fats or oils or spices of any kind to the radish!
Remove any uneaten radish from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on it.
- fresh, ripe radishes
- kitchen vegetable knife
- cutting board
- Inspect the vegetable for rot, debris, or pests.
- Wash the radish to rid it of chemical or pesticides
- Slice or chop the radish into bite-sized pieces.
- Give your pet one small piece of radish and observe for adverse signs for 24 hours.
- Contact your vet if any signs appear.
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 Radishes Be Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Radishes are 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 radishes.
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, including radishes.
Too much of a good thing should be another warning to guinea parents.
Feeding too much radish to your pet can lead to gastric upset with signs of vomiting or diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and other health issues.
Too much radish can also act as a diuretic, which too much of a diuretic can lead to too much fluid loss, and can become dehydrated.
As discussed in one of the previous sections of this article, gas and bloat can be a product of eating too much radish or for ingesting cooked radishes, for some guinea pigs.
Lastly, radishes contain small amounts of certain chemicals, termed oxalates, which can lead to stones that are collected in the kidney or bladder. Bladder or kidney stones are a health concern for your pet and can also lead to discomfort.
Kidney and bladder stones in a guinea pig can lead to a multitude of problems, especially if not treated, ultimately leading to death if not addressed and allowed to go without veterinary help.
How Much Radish Can a Guinea Pig Have?
Like with every type of food you should never go overboard.
Vegetables, like radishes, and fruits 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 radishes 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 radish treat and doesn’t show signs of abnormal behavior, then try a second small piece of radish in the next day or two.
A common rule of thumb is to serve no more than approximately 100 grams of radish to our guinea pig in a day. That is about 1-2 small bite-sized pieces per offering.
Try to mix up the offered radish pieces with other vegetables and prepare a salad for your guinea pig.
The right combination of radish 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 Radishes:
It is pretty safe to say that radishes 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 radish to your guinea pig up to 1-3 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 radishes 3 times per week but your furry friend doesn’t eat the offered radishes 3 times per week, then back down the offerings to 2 times per week and see how they react to the veggie at a decreased frequency.
This may help with ‘the desire’ to eat the radish pieces.
Fruit & Vegetable Alternatives For Guinea Pigs:
- other squash
- Butternut Squash
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Radishes?
Guinea pigs should not eat canned radishes due to the preservatives and the processes involved in canning the root vegetable.
Steer clear of canned radishes for your cavy.
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 radishes, is just fine as long as that store-bought and properly-cleaned radish 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 radishes to your buddy.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.