Apples make great snacks for us humans, but what about guinea pigs? Can guinea pigs eat apple, or could it harm them in some way?
The good news is that these cute animals can enjoy apples, but should only be served as a special treat. Read on to discover how you can serve your guinea pig apples as a special treat, the benefits of apples, and how to prepare them for your guinea pig.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Apples?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat apples. Apple skin is safe for guinea pigs, but the seeds should be avoided because they are a choking hazard and contain amygdalin, which deteriorates into hydrogen cyanide. Apples contain Vitamin C but follow our vet-approved feeding instructions to avoid health issues like obesity and diabetes.
Guinea pigs can enjoy apples when they are correctly prepared, washed up, cut up into bite-size chunks, and, of course, served in moderation.
The sweet taste and sugar contained within the apple can easily lead a guinea pig to overeat the fruit, leading them to consume far too many calories for one day. They may gain weight due to overeating, which can lead to diabetes, and other health problems.
Some of the most popular kinds of apples in the world are Gala, Red Delicious, and Fuji. While you may not be able to find these specific kinds all year round, or in your local region, you can almost certainly find some varieties of apples in every grocery store throughout the year.
Hay should make up 80% of your guinea pig’s diet. High-quality hay will support digestive and dental health and keep your piggy strong and healthy. Check out our guide on how to pick the best hay for your piggie.
Health Benefits: Are Apples Good for Guinea Pigs?
To make the answer short and sweet, yes, but only when served in moderation.
Guinea pigs have very specific nutritional needs that must be met - one of which includes vitamin C, and apples happen to be quite rich in vitamin C.
Apples are great for getting this much needed Vitamin C
Guinea pigs and humans are alike in the sense that they cannot make their own vitamin C. Thus, we have to make sure our guinea pigs are getting adequate amounts of this vitamin.
The most common method, in the form of nutritional pellets for cavies to eat or extra supplements . It can also come in the form of treats like fresh fruit and veggies.
Vitamin C is essential for guinea pigs because it promotes the health and wellness of their skin, mucosal surfaces such as the gums, and their joints. It is also critical in helping your guinea pig heal in the event he or she sustains an injury.
Without adequate Vitamin C, guinea pigs are more susceptible to infections, skin problems, and of course, scurvy. Signs that your guinea pig is lacking in vitamin C include:
- swollen joints or feet
- not eating properly
- has rough hair coat
- bleeds/bruises easily
- has ulcers on the skin or the gums
- reluctant to walk
If your pig has any of these signs they need help from a vet as soon as possible.
Depending on your cavy's health, he or she needs at least 20-40 mg of Vitamin C each day. This depends on your pig - for instance, a pregnant or stressed guinea pig will need more than a piggy who is in optimal health condition.
Indeed, apples are great for getting this much needed Vitamin C. However, guinea pigs shouldn't consume fresh fruit and veggies every day, as this puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or developing diabetes.
For a great diet and to ensure your guinea pig gets enough vitamin C, you should provide your guinea pigs unlimited timothy hay, occasional fresh produce or daily vitamin C supplements.
You should also offer high-quality nutritional pellets as a means of giving your pet a complete diet, but be warned that oxidation occurs, which diminishes the integrity of the vitamin C contained inside the pellet. As a result, make sure you have plenty of different ways for your cavy to get his or her daily recommended amount of Vitamin C.
Health Risks: Are Apples Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Apples themselves are not bad for guinea pigs. They will certainly not harm the animal if eaten. The risk of feeding apples to guinea pigs lies in the amount you feed to your cavy.
- A guinea pig cannot eat a whole apple – this is far too much sugar for the cavy to handle.
- The guinea pig also cannot get the appropriate amount of other important nutrients from simply eating apples.
- Apples should be offered in small quantities just once a week to ensure the guinea pig avoids consuming too much sugar, becoming bloated, or developing diarrhea.
Some varieties of apple that are quite acidic - such as Granny Smith or Pink Lady, and should be avoided. Acidic fruits can cause discomfort and irritation in guinea pigs' mouths. Red Delicious is a safe variety that is sweet and not too acidic.
Guinea pigs also should avoid eating the seeds of the apple, since large seeds could propose in a choking hazard for small animals. This is why you should cut the apple into small, bite-size chunks and remove the seeds before serving.
Apple seeds must be avoided for another reason as well. There is a compound called amygdalin in the seeds, which is harmless when seeds are intact, but when the seeds become damaged- such as by chewing- amygdalin deteriorates into hydrogen cyanide.
It is lethal when consumed in high doses. Cyanide is well known as a poison through history, and it works by disrupting the oxygen supply of cells, which can lead to death in a matter of minutes when consumed in large doses. Remember, a large dose for a cavy isn't much.
While one apple seed may not harm your guinea pig, it's better not to take the risk. Just cut the apple or core it so that no seeds end up onto the food dish, and let your piggy enjoy.
At this point, you're probably wondering how you can go about feeding your guinea pig an apple safely. Let's go through step by step and learn how to give your guinea pig apples in a safe and healthy way.
A half a cup of apple is all your guinea pig needs
1. Begin by selecting ripe, fresh apples that are free of spots and rotted parts. If you would not eat the apple, then you should not feed it to your guinea pig, either.
2. Make sure to wash the apple thoroughly. Even apples purchased at local markets may contain harmful pesticides that could harm your piggy. So, make sure to give fruits a thorough rinse before cutting up.
3. Place the apple on the cutting board and slice away from the core. (Kids-make sure an adult helps you!)
4. Now cut up less than a half cup of apple. It is all your guinea pig needs to enjoy the fruit safely. It is an amount that is not too small but not too large. Keep this treat to once per week (at most) or once every two weeks to exercise moderation.
Nutritional Value per 100g of an average Red Delicious Apple (The most widely consumed apple):
- 33 Calories - This makes a tasty, low-calorie snack for your guinea pig to enjoy.
- 8.63 g carbs- Carbohydrates provide energy for your guinea pig to play and carry out normal bodily functions.
- 3 mg Vitamin C - Vitamin C is critical in making sure your cavy is free from scurvy and has a strong immune system.
- 67 mg Potassium- This helps regulate fluid balances and nerve signals.
- 6 mg Calcium- Calcium is needed to maintain strong and healthy bones in your guinea pig.
Apples make an excellent treat for your guinea pig to enjoy on a once in a while basis. They are plentiful and inexpensive, making them ideal and fun to give your piggy. They don't require refrigeration, which is another huge plus.
You can even buy them in single servings or in bags, which is excellent for those of you that own multiple guinea pigs.
When feeding fruit, be sure to remove any uneaten pieces to prevent mold from growing in the enclosure. And, remember only to feed your guinea pigs apples or any other fruits in moderation to keep your piggy happy and healthy.
Can guinea pigs eat apples with skin?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat apples with the skin. The flesh of the fruit, core, and skin are all safe for your guinea pig to digest. The seeds should be avoided because they pose a choking hazard and contain a compound called amygdalin, which deteriorates into hydrogen cyanide. Although the apple's skin is edible and safe for your guinea pig to eat, remember to wash the fruit before serving to remove any pesticides.
Like most of us, guinea pigs love a sweet treat, and apples delight their sugar-loving tastebuds.
While we consider apples a healthy alternative for people, there's not as much nutritional value for our cavy buddies. Apples provide some vitamin C, calcium, and fiber, but the amount of sugar outweighs the benefits, so they should only be given as an occasional treat.
Chopped up into bitesize pieces, any apple offerings to your pig should have the core and all seeds removed. Apple seeds contain amygdalin, which is metabolized into hydrogen cyanide, a well-known poison. Small amounts won't cause death, but if the seeds are broken up through chewing and digestion, then it can be fatal.
Alongside this, apple seeds can pose a choking hazard or cause an obstruction in your little fur-friend's belly. Well-prepared apple chunks are a yummy treat for cavies, just in moderation.
- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Edele Grey, BSc, MVB, PGCertESM, MRCVS was born and raised in Ireland on a farm, so she was destined for veterinary-related work from a young age. Dr. Grey attended the only veterinary university in Ireland, the University College Dublin, and graduated in 2013. Since graduation, Dr. Grey has worked with a range of exotic, companion, and production animal species.
NOTE: Advice provided within this article is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your guinea pig's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.