June 29, 2020

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oranges?

Is it Safe or Not?

Veterinarian Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Guinea pigs have been extinct in the wild for a long time. However, many of them have found cozy little homes with us. We love our pets, and it's up to us to keep them as healthy and happy as possible. One of the most important aspects is feeding.

Being true herbivores, guinea pigs should eat a diet consisting mainly of hay. It should be supplemented with fresh green veggies and a little fruit. Remember, not all vegetables and fruits are suitable, and some may even be toxic. It's always a good idea to check before feeding.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oranges?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat oranges. Oranges can be a hydrating treat that provides all-important Vitamin C. The skin is edible too, but orange seeds may pose a choking hazard. Just make sure to stick to our vet-checked recommendations on feeding to avoid health issues like obesity, urinary stones, and stomach upsets.

Oranges can make an excellent, healthy addition to an otherwise balanced guinea pig's diet. They contain some valuable nutrients and taste great too. Most guinea pigs love the sweet, refreshing taste.

Oranges can make a great occasional treat, particularly in summer, with the hot weather. -Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

The skin of an orange is not toxic to guinea pigs, and they can safely eat it. The flesh, of course, is also edible. Just make sure the orange you select is fresh and well-ripened.

Eating hay is important for guinea pigs as it supports their digestive health and keeps their teeth trimmed. Learn more about the best guinea pig hay brands

Health Benefits: Are Oranges Good for Guinea Pigs?

Oranges are one of the world's most popular fruits. It is probably mainly due to their great, refreshing taste and versatility; they're also quite nutritious, which is a bonus.

There's a lot your guinea pig can get out of an orange. 

1. Vitamin C Bomb

Just like all fruits belonging to the citrus family, oranges pack a vitamin C punch. This particular nutrient holds a special place in guinea pig nutrition. Guinea pigs are not capable of manufacturing or storing vitamin C in their bodies. They must get enough of it in their diet to remain healthy.

A lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy, a condition that can be fatal if untreated. Oranges are an easy, tasty way to make sure your pet is getting enough vitamin C. They will do their part to keep your guinea pig healthy if offered as an occasional snack.

Oranges on table

2. Good Source of Copper

Oranges also contain copper. It is a trace mineral, but still essential for your guinea pig's survival. Copper is present in all body tissue and plays a vital role in several processes that keep the body functioning, including absorption of iron and producing collagen.

It also helps to maintain the immune system and nerve cells in good condition. Alongside some other essential nutrients, copper has a role to play in making red blood cells.

3. Oranges Contain Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral that contributes to a healthy body. Most of the potassium your guinea pig has is stored within the cells, acting as an electrolyte. Potassium helps maintain healthy nerve function and regulate fluid balance. It also works to regulate heart and muscle contractions.

A diet high in potassium may help prevent kidney stones and reduce blood pressure. It can also help to avoid excess water retention in the body. Oranges contain this essential mineral and make a valuable addition to your guinea pig's diet.

Health Risks: Are Oranges Bad for Guinea Pigs?

Oranges, if fed in the right amounts, can be healthy for your pet. Their main value is the colossal amount of vitamin C that they contain. However, just as with all foods, moderation is the best policy.

Fruit is meant to be only a small percentage of a guinea pig's overall food intake.

1. High Calcium Content

One of the most significant risks of feeding your guinea pig oranges is the high calcium content. Calcium is an essential nutrient for growing guinea pigs but isn't as necessary in adult ones. What usually causes problems here is the fact that guinea pigs cannot regulate their calcium intake.

Most animals absorb only the calcium that they need from their food. Guinea pigs, however, cannot self-regulate and absorb most of it. The excess calcium then binds with oxalates to form kidney and bladder stones. It is a very painful condition that requires the intervention of a vet. If left untreated, it can even lead to death.

Oranges contain quite a lot of calcium. They need to be fed in strict moderation, never giving too much at a time. You also have to take care not to feed them together with any other calcium-rich food.

2. High Sugar Content

Oranges are relatively calorie-rich. They contain a high amount of sugar coupled with very low fiber, making for a poor fiber-to-sugar ratio. It is another reason feeding your guinea pig too much can lead to problems.

Guinea pigs were not designed to eat diets high in sugar. They have very delicate digestive systems. Too much sugar can upset the balance of flora in their gut, causing diarrhea or bloating. A mild case may give your pet a bit of discomfort for a few hours. A more severe case may require the attention of a vet.

The other problem is that guinea pigs are prone to weight gain. Conditions like obesity and diabetes can easily develop. You have to be careful about how much sugar you allow your pet to eat. Oranges, being a food high in sugar, need to be limited. And if your guinea pig already has a condition such as diabetes, best avoid them altogether. Your vet will be able to advise on the best diet for your pet.

3. Oranges Contain Acid and Water

There are many varieties of oranges, and some are more acidic than others. But all oranges contain a certain amount of acid. Feeding your guinea pig too much orange will introduce too much acid to its digestive system. It can upset the balance of gut flora and cause diarrhea or gas.

Oranges also have a relatively high water content, coming in at 88%. It is good to hydrate your guinea pig, but again, too much will upset its tummy. It is especially true when combined with the acid.

4. Potential Pesticide Risk

Guinea pigs are happy eating oranges with their skins still on. The only problem with this is that most oranges are grown commercially and sprayed with various pesticides. Many of these can remain as traces on the skins. For this reason, much as the skins are edible, it's best to peel them off.

If you're sure that your orange is organically grown, then you can feed it without peeling first. Just make sure to give it a good wash to remove any dirt before you slice a piece.

Feeding Guidelines: Oranges for Guinea Pigs

Oranges are fruit and contain lots of sugar. They are also high in calcium.

Feeding them in moderation will give your guinea pig the benefits without the risks.

Keep the Serving Small

One whole orange is simply too much for any guinea pig. After washing and peeling it, cut a small slice or two. It is enough to keep your pet happy.

When giving oranges for the first time, start with a tiny piece and observe for 24 hours. If there are no signs of diarrhea or other problems, you can gradually increase the serving size.

Not a Daily Treat

Oranges can be safely fed to your guinea pig once a week. If your pig has health issues, or you just want to avoid the calcium, you can explore other alternatives. You can also opt for a vitamin C supplement to avoid any worry.

Nutrition Facts

Oranges are a great-tasting, refreshing fruit. They don't qualify as a nutrient bomb, but they still pack a punch with some essential nutrients.

Plenty of Vitamins

Apart from a good 50mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, oranges contain a fair amount of vitamin A. They also provide several of the vitamins from the B complex, among them B6 and Riboflavin. These are all essential vitamins required by your guinea pig to maintain a healthy body. [1.]

High-Sugar, High-Carb

It doesn't come as a surprise that oranges contain 8.4 grams of sugar per 100 grams of fruit while accompanied by only 0.2 grams of fiber. This is why your guinea pig shouldn't get too much in one go.

The poor sugar-to-fiber ratio can easily cause a blood sugar spike. One hundred grams of orange will give 45 calories in total, most coming from the sugar content.

Bottom line: Can Guinea Pigs Have Oranges?

Oranges, fed in moderate amounts, make a great addition to a healthy guinea pig's diet. Their main value to your pet is vitamin C that it contains. Most guinea pigs love the taste and will eat their occasional slice of orange quite happily.

Do remember that feeding too much too frequently is not a good idea, though. Oranges are high on calcium, too much of which is bad for guinea pigs. They also contain lots of sugar and very little fiber, so a little at a time is best. If you have any reason to worry, you should consult your vet before feeding your pet any oranges.

FAQ

Can guinea pigs eat orange peels?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat orange peels. The peels contain a lot of Vitamin C but may also contain pesticides and should, therefore, be washed thoroughly before serving. Also, some cavies don't like the bitter taste of orange rinds.

Vet's Comment

Guinea pigs can't manufacture their own vitamin C and need to get it in their diet just like us humans. Daily supplementation with vitamin C is the best method to ensure your little piggy gets all the vitamin C they need. Excess is simply excreted in your guinea pig's urine.

Oranges can make a great occasional treat, particularly in summer, with the hot weather. Sugar levels in oranges are high enough to possibly cause your piggy some digestive issues, so small portions are essential.

- Dr. Edele Grey, DVM

Dr. Edele Grey Veterinary Surgeon

Vet-Approved by
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 by FeedingMyPet.com 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.

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