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 strawberries hanging out in your produce drawer of your refrigerator. But can guinea pigs eat strawberries?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Let’s Talk Berries… More Specifically Strawberries:
The strawberry plant is a flowering plant that is perennial, which means that it can survive and come back year after year.
The strawberry plant produces heart-shaped red berries that are coated on their exteriors with small, hard strawberry seeds.
The top of each strawberry has a stem and strawberry leaves attached it’s strawberry top.
When ripe, they have a sweet taste and once bit in to, a sweet, juicy fruit inside.
Strawberry Health Benefits:
Strawberries are high in water content and fairly low sugar content (compared to water content) low in calories, high in vitamin C and antioxidants. According to a recent Healthline article,
They’re an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, which may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.”https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/strawberries
Strawberries also contain a notable amount of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and folate.
According to other studies, strawberries may also be good for lowering your blood pressure and may also be good for your heart [source].
Another study even concluded that strawberries may be beneficial when it comes to diabetes and glucose metabolism [source].
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 Strawberries?
After reading up on some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of strawberries 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 strawberries…. but only in moderation. This means – in SMALL amounts!
Moderation = 1 strawberry is enough berries for one guinea pig.
Because strawberries contain sugar, you must not feed it in excess to guinea pig or obesity and other health issues can arise.
Strawberries also contain acid, like many fruits do, that can lead to health concerns if given in too high of quantities or for too long a period of time.
In total, your guinea pig can 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 strawberries!
Remember, strawberries 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 Strawberries?
A strawberry contains some essential nutrients including calcium, phosphorus 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.
They also has some other potential health benefits for your pet guinea pig:
- Inflammation/Antioxidants: Multiple studies show that strawberries are a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds that help in fighting against inflammation.
- Vitamins: A strawberry contains a high amount of vitamin C and smaller amounts of other notable vitamins such as vitamin B9. 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: Strawberries may help with glucose levels and glucose metabolism in the bloodstream.
May Reduce Inflammation
Multiple research studies have shown that strawberries are a source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which effectively can help fight different forms of inflammation found inside the body.
As mentioned above, strawberries 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:
Strawberries also contain a good amount of fiber, which is an essential part of a guinea pigs diet as it helps in maintaining their digestive tract and gastrointestinal health.
How About Strawberry Leaves?
There’s no reason your guinea pig can’t enjoy chewing on strawberry leaves unless they just don’t like strawberries 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 strawberry 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 Have Strawberry Tops?
Guinea pigs can eat strawberry tops, but they may very well prefer the sweetness of the berry over its top. The strawberry top has much less sugar than the rest of the berry, which is good for your pet’s health, but not good in respect of flavor.
Can Guinea Pigs Have Strawberry Juice?
Fruit juices typically contain high amounts of sugars as well as other additives in some juices. This added sugar content is not safe or healthy for your pet piggie. Don’t offer your guinea pig strawberry juice.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberry Seeds?
Your guinea pig should have no problem munching away on a fresh slice of strawberry with the seeds intact.
There is no reason why these small strawberry seeds need to be removed before serving strawberry pieces to your pet piggie.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberry Jam or Jelly?
Jellies and jams have added sugars, spices, and/or preservatives or additives in them.
Therefore, it is not advised to feed your guinea pig any fruit jam or jelly, including the strawberry varieties.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dried Strawberries?
No, guinea pigs should not be given dried strawberries. Dried fruits such as strawberries contain a high amount of sugars, which are not healthy for your guinea pig to be consuming.
Can They have Frozen Strawberries?
No, guinea pigs should not be given frozen strawberries. Frozen fruits such as strawberries are a choking hazard, something that your guinea pig should not be offered.
How To Feed Strawberries To Guinea Pigs:
Some Guinea Pigs will love the taste of strawberries 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 strawberries to your pet guinea pig?
- 1 medium fresh store-bought strawberry
- cutting board
- vegetable knife
- Make sure to wash the strawberries thoroughly, removing any possible dirt, chemicals, or pesticides.
- Then you can cut the strawberries into bite-sized pieces or thin slices.
- Make sure to use a clean knife and cutting board that are food-safe to do the cutting.
Consult with your pet's veterinarian before introducing a new feed into your pet's diet, and ask them any questions or concerns that you may have.
For starters, make sure to wash the strawberries thoroughly, removing any possible dirt, chemicals, or pesticides.
Then you can cut the strawberries into bite-sized pieces.
Make sure to use a clean knife and cutting board that are food-safe to do the cutting.
How Many Strawberries 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 strawberry 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 strawberries and contact your veterinarian about the current situation for further guidance.
That being said, most guinea pigs take to strawberries very well.
As long as your guinea pig shows no signs of an adverse reaction, you can gradually increase the amount of strawberries you are offering until they’re enjoying a full serving- which still isn’t a lot of the berry!
It’s best to give strawberries once or a few times a week and to not exceed that.
You should serve no more than 1 – 2 small bite-sized strawberries 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 Strawberries 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 strawberries 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 strawberries 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 strawberries.
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.
Allergic Reactions to Berries:
A guinea pig can develop an intolerance or an allergy to any food, so there is always the possibility that your pet is allergic to strawberries.
If you suspect your piggie is allergic to strawberries, do NOT feed this food to your pet.
If your fur baby is allergic to berries and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to foods:
- Itching/Increased grooming
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 strawberries 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 strawberries, 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.