Guinea pigs are tiny little creatures that make great pets. These furry animals are pure herbivores eating grasses with whatever leafy greens and fruit they can forage.
To keep our piggy friends healthy, we need to mimic their natural diet as best as possible. They need to eat mainly hay with a regular helping of leafy greens. Fruit is best left as an occasional treat. But guinea pigs are known for their delicate tummies, and not all greens or fruit is good for them.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cucumbers?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat cucumber, including the flesh, skin, and seeds. Cucumber can be a healthy and hydrating low-calorie treat for your guinea pig. However, see our vet-checked recommendations on how often to feed cucumber, as overfeeding may cause digestive issues such as diarrhea and bloating, and cucumber also contains some calcium.
Cucumber is a safe vegetable for guinea pigs to eat. There is nothing toxic in it. The skin, flesh, and seeds are all edible, and most guinea pigs love the taste. Some guinea pigs can be a bit picky and will leave the seeds out, though.
Cucumber can be a great low-calorie treat for your guinea pig.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
Just as with any fruit or vegetable, cucumber needs to be fed in the right amount. Guinea pigs can be greedy and will eat almost anything you give. It is up to you to regulate what and how much they consume to keep them healthy.
Eating hay has many important benefits for your guinea pig and supports their overall health. However, you need to choose the right type of hay to ensure your piggy gets all the right nutrients. Learn more on Why do guinea pigs need hay?
Health Benefits: Is Cucumber Good for Guinea Pigs?
Cucumber is not a particularly nutrient-rich food, but it does contain some useful elements. The fact that it's non-toxic makes it an easy addition to your pet's serving of greens.
With their low sugar and fat content, they can be safely added to your pet's diet more frequently.
1. Low-calorie, Low-Carb
Guinea pigs are prone to putting on weight. Their digestive systems were also not designed to handle much fat, starch, or sugar. These two facts combined mean that guinea pigs shouldn't be allowed to eat foods rich in carbs and fat.
Cucumber is a very low-calorie food, containing almost no fat and starch. In this respect, it is an ideal veggie for your guinea pig. Eating it more frequently won't raise the risk of developing sugar- and fat-related problems like diabetes and obesity.
2. Good Hydration
The reason cucumbers are so low in calories is their high water content. At 95%, they are mainly water. It makes them a good source of hydration for your guinea pig, although your pet needs to have clean drinking water available 24 hours a day. Cucumber has a sweet, refreshing taste, and many guinea pigs enjoy nibbling on it, especially on a hot summer day.
3. Some Vitamin C
Vitamin C is of special importance to guinea pigs. They cannot manufacture this vitamin in their bodies, so their only way of obtaining it is as a part of their diet. Vitamin C is essential to their bodies and plays a vital role in boosting the immune system.
A lack of vitamin C can lead to a disease known as scurvy, requiring attention from your vet. Cucumbers, while not nutrient-dense, do contain some vitamin C. With their low sugar and fat content, they can be safely added to your pet's diet more frequently. It makes them a good, regular source of vitamin C for your pet.
4. Good Amount of Copper
Copper is an essential mineral, without which the body cannot survive. It is a part of all body tissues and has a host of functions. It contributes to energy production and helps the body absorb iron and form collagen. It is also needed to maintain the immune system and make red blood cells.
Cucumber contains a fair amount of copper, making it an excellent addition to your guinea pig's diet. Again, cucumber can be fed more frequently than many other veggies and fruits. It makes it a constant source of copper that you can rely on.
Health Risks: Is Cucumber Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Cucumber is not at all toxic to guinea pigs. The skin, flesh, and seeds are all safe for your pet to eat and shouldn't cause any problems. But there are a few things to consider when adding it to your guinea pig's diet.
1. Cucumber Does Contain Some Calcium
Calcium is a nutrient that is essential to guinea pigs but can be a massive problem in excess. They do need it to form healthy bones and teeth. But unlike most other animals, guinea pigs cannot regulate their calcium intake. They absorb most of the calcium they consume.
Excess calcium in the body combines with oxalates and build up to form kidney and bladder stones. It is a very painful condition for guinea pigs, and deadly if left untreated. Cucumber isn't high on calcium, but it does contain some.
You have to be careful when combining cucumber with other veggies that may also contain calcium. Always check that you're not giving too much.
2. Overfeeding Can Cause Digestive Issues
Cucumber is mostly water. While this can be a good thing in terms of keeping your pet hydrated, don't overdo it. Guinea pigs are known to have delicate, sensitive tummies. It is easy to upset the balance of bacteria in their gut systems.
Excess water from cucumber may give your pet diarrhea and bloating. Cucumber is generally safe and an excellent addition to your guinea pig's diet, but it's important to keep the quantity within limits to avoid tummy trouble.
3. Risk of Pesticides
While cucumbers are safe in and of themselves, it's worth considering how they were grown. Most cucumbers available in supermarkets come from commercial farms. It means they are subjected to several pesticide applications before reaching your table. Traces of these chemicals can easily remain on the cucumber.
It's always a good idea to wash cucumber under clean, running water before feeding your pet. It's a shame to remove the skin as it has more nutrients than the flesh, but the skin is also where pesticide residue will be. So if you're feeding regular, commercially grown cucumber, perhaps peeling the skin off is the better choice.
If you want to be sure you and your guinea pig aren't eating anything you shouldn't be, go organic. It's more expensive, true, but it's the healthiest option. With an organic cucumber, you can safely feed the whole thing to your pet after a basic wash.
Serving Size and How to Feed?
Cucumber is generally a safe food for your guinea pig. You don't have to limit it as much as you would fruit or something very high in calcium. But there are still some guidelines to follow to help keep your guinea pig healthy.
A slice or two fed a few times a week is a good addition to your pet's diet.
Mix With Other Veggies
Guinea pigs love the taste and will eat as much cucumber as you give them. But cucumber is not very nutrient-rich. Any time you choose to give your pet some cucumber, mix it in with other veggies. Cut a thin slice or two. The skins and seeds are safe, too, so you don't have to remove them.
Not A Daily Food
Cucumber is generally safe for guinea pigs, but it shouldn't be their staple food. It's a good idea to skip a day or two without. You can add the cucumber to your pet's food 3-4 times a week. Remember to double-check that you're not giving too much calcium when combining with other veggies.
Cucumber is not nutrient-dense food. Then again, neither is it calorie-rich. It does taste very refreshing, though. And chances are your guinea pig feels the same.
Low-calorie, Mostly Water
At 95%, cucumber is basically glorified water. It contains only 0.6 grams protein and 0.2 grams fat for every 100 grams, which is negligible. The carbs also come in at a low 2.2 grams out of 100 grams. Of these, sugar is 1.4 grams.
The dietary fiber is insignificant, with only 0.7 grams. But there is hardly any sugar, so it doesn't really pose a problem.
All this makes for only ten calories per 100 grams. From this point of view, cucumber is an excellent food for guinea pigs. They are prone to diabetes and obesity and don't do well on sugary, fatty foods.
A Smattering of Vitamins and Minerals
Cucumbers are not especially high on any one particular nutrient. But they do contain a whole set of them in smaller amounts. Besides vitamin C, cucumbers contain vitamin K and A. Several of the vitamins from the B complex, including B6, are also present. [1.]
When it comes to minerals, copper has the highest amount. Magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc also make an appearance. And there are 14mg of calcium for every 100 grams of cucumber. We've mentioned this earlier but take care here.
Cucumbers are a tasty, healthy veggie for guinea pigs of all ages. They are safe to feed, and there is no part that is toxic. Skins, flesh, and seeds are all okay. Just be sure to wash the cucumber thoroughly before feeding your pet. If you're not comfortable with the skin, peel it off or buy organic.
A slice or two fed a few times a week is a good addition to your pet's diet. The best way to do it is to mix it up with another 2-3 veggies. It will help prevent your guinea pig from getting too much fluid in one go and developing digestive issues.
Can guinea pigs eat cucumber peels?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat cucumber peels. The skin of a cucumber is totally safe and in no way toxic to a guinea pig. However, cucumbers may be sprayed with pesticides, so it is important to either wash the cucumber thoroughly or peel off the skin before feeding it to your cavy.
Cucumber can be a great low-calorie treat for your guinea pig, but remember that the majority of the veggies you feed should be ones that are rich in vitamin C.
Since guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C, it is critical that you provide it in their diet. While veggies and guinea pig pellets contain some vitamin C, it is important to provide your pet with a vitamin C supplement daily.
It is best to give this as a chewable tablet. Avoid vitamin C water supplements as it is hard to make sure that your pet ingests enough vitamin C, and they may also dislike the taste. This could lead to them drinking less water and becoming dehydrated.
- Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
Dr. Leonie McKinlay has always had a special fondness for animals and knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Calgary and then her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Since graduation, Dr. McKinlay has been working at the same small animal practice, caring for dogs and cats.
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.