Guinea pigs like to snack on a lot of different tasty treats, many of which you can find in your kitchen and fridge. One of those tempting foods may be the raspberries hanging out in your produce drawer of your refrigerator. But can guinea pigs eat raspberries?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
It turns out, that guinea pigs CAN have raspberries, but they must be served safely and in the right amounts and frequency. Please read about these specifics below, before sharing a raspberry with your pet guinea pig.
Let’s Talk Berries… More Specifically Raspberries:
The raspberry plant is a flowering plant that is perennial, can survive and come back year after year.
The plant produces small round berries that are either a shade of red, black, gold or purple.
The berry itself actually starts out very small and green and becomes larger and it’s true color once ripe.
When ripe, they have a sweet taste and once punctured, a juicy fruit inside.
Raspberry Health Benefits:
Raspberries are a very popular fruit because of their sweet flavor, compact red-to-purple exterior, and its many uses in cooking, especially in desserts.
Raspberries have many nutritional benefits as well as delicious benefits.
According to a recent Healthline article,
1. Vitamins and Minerals:
Raspberries contain many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, E, and K. They also contain potassium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.
Raspberries contain antioxidants [source] that may help to prevent cell damage that harmful free radicals can cause. These antioxidants can help with things like preventing certain cancers and diseases.
3. Sugar Levels:
With how sweet their taste is, it shouldn’t come to you as a shock, that a raspberry contains a high amount of sugar, just like many other sweet fruits.
This means that raspberries need to be fed carefully to those pets that have metabolic conditions such as diabetes in which blood sugar levels can be an issue.
4. Water Content:
Juicy raspberries have a healthy concentration of water that can help keep small bodies more hydrated. Just make sure not to over-indulge your little critter, because too much water is not a good thing either!
Raspberries also have a fiber content that is larger than many other common fruits.
This is great because fiber helps with satiety, keeping the pet feeling full after eating for longer as well as helps keep the gastrointestinal tract moving and flowing smoothly as it should.
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!
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raspberries?
After reading up on some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of raspberries brings 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 raspberries…. but only in moderation. This means – in SMALL amounts!
Moderation = 1-2 raspberries are enough berries for one guinea pig.
Because raspberries are high in sugar, you must not feed it in excess to guinea pig or obesity and other health issues can arise.
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 raspberries!
Remember, raspberries are an acceptable treat to feed to guinea pigs as long as it is an occasional treat.
If your piggy does not eat the berries, 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 Raspberries?
A raspberry contains some essential nutrients including calcium, iron, and Vitamin C that can be helpful in keeping your cavy healthy.
Calcium and phosphorous are an integral part of a diet which is necessary for proper bone development, Teeth growth, and other nervous system needs.
Vitamins and minerals also has some other potential health benefits for your pet guinea pig:
- Inflammation/Antioxidants: Multiple studies show that raspberries are a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds that help in fighting against inflammation.
- Vitamins: A raspberry contains vitamin C, E, and K. Guinea pigs need vitamins to stay healthy and to allow their bodies to function properly. Vitamin C helps guinea pigs stay safe and adequately protected from diseases and strengthens their immune system.
- Diabetes/Blood Sugar: Raspberries may help with glucose levels and glucose metabolism in the bloodstream.
May Reduce Inflammation
Multiple research studies have shown that raspberries are a source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which effectively can help fight different forms of inflammation found inside the body.
As mentioned above, raspberries are packed with these potential anti-inflammatory molecules called antioxidants.
Antioxidants are thought to help reduce inflammation inside the body by binding (attaching) to and suppressing (decreasing) inflammation-promoting molecules known as free radicals. [source]
Source of Fiber:
Raspberries also contain a large amount of fiber, 8 grams in one cup of fresh raspberries [source], which is an essential part of a guinea pigs diet as it helps in maintaining their digestive tract and gastrointestinal health.
Raspberries only have on average, 64 calories in one entire cup! [source]
How About Raspberry Stems and Raspberry Leaves?
There’s no reason your guinea pig can’t enjoy chewing on raspberry stems and leaves unless they just don’t like raspberries at all.
They love having little things in their mouths to chew on and to keep them occupied and entertained throughout their busy days!
The stem texture is not too tough, so as long as the stem is short and thin, then it’s okay for a small bit of stem to still be attached to the raspberry for them to nibble on.
But just like anything else that they can stick in their mouths, these can be a choking hazard so monitor your piggie while snacking on this berry treat!
Can They Eat Raspberry Seeds?
They sure can eat raspberry seeds!
Raspberry seeds are quite small and since we are feeding our guinea pig raspberries in moderation, there shouldn’t be any concern as to overdosing your pet with too many raspberry seeds.
Can They Eat Dried Raspberries?
The higher sugar content of dried fruit such as dried raspberries makes me always say a resounding no.
Do not feed your guinea pig any dried raspberry pieces, stick with the fresh fruit.
Can They Eat Frozen Raspberries?
Frozen raspberries are quite hard and are a potential choking hazard, so I do not recommend offering your pet any frozen raspberries, even if they are already in smaller pieces.
Can They Eat Raspberry Jam or Preserves?
No, no, nope.
Do not ever feed your guinea pig jelly or jam as these are high in sugar.
High sugar content is not good for your little friend, so please stay away from the jellies and jams!
How About Eating Blueberry Muffins?
Muffins, even those with raspberries in them, are unsafe to feed your guinea pig.
Muffins contain added sugars and other ingredients that are not safe and can be harmful to your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raspberry Juice?
You should not offer your guinea pig raspberry juice or raspberry flavored foods.
This is because raspberry juice has a high sugar content, which is not going to be good for your pet.
High sugar content can cause diarrhea, obesity, etc., creating more problems than good. No raspberry juice for your guinea pig please!
How To Feed Raspberries To Guinea Pigs:
Some Guinea Pigs will love the taste of raspberry and other piggies will find their favorite flavor elsewhere.
However, it is most often one of their favorite berries to snack on.
So how do you safely feed raspberries to your pet guinea pig?
- fresh store-bought raspberries
- kitchen knife
- cutting board
- All fruits and vegetables will need to have a visual inspection done to make sure that you are giving your pet a ripe, healthy food to eat.
- Next, you will need to clean, cut, slice, chop, dice, or smash up the raspberries so that your guinea pig can safely eat it. They will need food in bite-sized pieces or small amounts of mashed raspberry.
- Watch for any adverse side effects of introducing this new food, before allowing them to have more of it at a later date.
Do not change or add new items to your pet's diet without talking with your veterinarian about it first. Contact your veterinarian immediately if adverse side effects arise after ingestion.
For starters, make sure to wash the raspberries thoroughly, removing any possible dirt, chemicals, or pesticides.
Then you can cut the raspberries into bite-sized pieces.
Make sure to use a clean knife and cutting board that are food-safe to do the cutting.
How Many Raspberries 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 small raspberry 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 raspberries and contact your veterinarian about the current situation for further guidance.
That being said, most guinea pigs take to raspberries very well.
As long as your guinea pig shows no signs of an adverse reaction, you can gradually increase the amount of raspberries you are offering until they’re enjoying a full serving- which still isn’t a lot of the berry!
It’s best to give raspberries once or a few times a week and to not exceed that.
You should serve no more than 1 – 2 small bite-sized raspberries 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 Raspberries 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!
If the raspberries are not cleaned properly, then you leave your pet vulnerable to whatever was left on the herb, dirt, chemicals, pesticides, etc., which could potentially have harmful side effects.
Feeding too many raspberries 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 raspberries.
Fruits, even berries, contain acids which can give your guinea pig some uncomfortable side effects. Increased acidity can lead to mouth sores and 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.
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?
- Butternut Squash
Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of feeding raspberries 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 raspberries, contact your veterinarian immediately for assistance on what to do next.
If you have any questions or concerns with feeding your guinea pig these juicy berries, contact your veterinarian before attempting to feed it to your loved pet.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.