June 17, 2020

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberries?

Cavy Food Guide

Veterinarian Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Nature designed your cute little guinea pig to be a herbivore. There are none left in the wild, but if there were, they'd feed on mainly grasses and greens. Even kept at home, your furry pal needs to maintain a healthy diet. Lots of hay, supplemented with leafy green veggies are the way to go.

Guinea pigs don't do well with sugar, so fruits are okay for them only as an occasional treat. Some fruits may also contain stuff toxic to your pet. It could be the skin, as with avocados, or the leaves, as with tomatoes. Always double check to be sure!

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Strawberries?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat strawberries, tops and leaves included. Strawberries are rich in fiber and all-important Vitamin C. Still, because strawberries are high in sugar, calcium, and acid, you should follow our vet-checked feeding recommendations with your cavy to avoid serious health issues like bladder stones, obesity, and diarrhea.

About 5-10% of a guinea pig's diet should consist of fresh fruit. So while an occasional serving of strawberry is great for your pet, don't overdo it. Too much can lead to unwanted health complications.

Hay is not just hay. By choosing the best hay possible for your pet, you will support their wellbeing and health. To learn more, click here.

Health Benefits: Are Strawberries Good For Guinea Pigs?

When feeding guinea pigs, a diet based on hay and fresh leafy greens will fulfill most of their requirements. But the occasional addition of a good fruit like a strawberry has its share of benefits too.

Since you can only offer guinea pigs fruit only occasionally, strawberries are a good, nutrient-rich option.

1. Excellent Source of Vitamin C

It is one of the most important components of a guinea pig's diet. Just like us human beings, these little animals cannot make or store vitamin C in their bodies.

Yet this vitamin is needed to make collagen, and improve the absorption of iron from plant matter. It is also an antioxidant, helping to keep the immune system strong.

All this means that guinea pigs need a regular supply of it in their diet to remain healthy. Strawberries, their tops, and leaves all contain vitamin C in good amounts. Feeding your pet an occasional strawberry will provide a boost to the immune system and some much-needed vitamin C.

strawberries on table

2. Good Source of Fiber

Strawberries, particularly the tops and leaves, contain fiber, and your guinea pig needs this fiber for two main reasons:

One - he has open-rooted teeth that grow continuously throughout his life. If your pet doesn't keep grinding their teeth down sufficiently, they'll get too long, which can cause severe discomfort, and he may even stop eating. If this happens, you'll be needing a visit to the vet to have those teeth trimmed.

Two - fiber is a crucial component of digestion. Guinea pigs require lots of fiber in their diet to help them digest their food well. If they don't get enough of it, their delicate stomachs will definitely suffer. A plethora of medical conditions will then follow suit.

So feeding your guinea pig plenty of fiber every day is a must. Hay provides most of it, but strawberries (and any other fibrous foods) help.

3. Overall Rich Nutrition

Another benefit to strawberries is that they are overall a relatively rich source of vitamins. Unlike some other fruit that will contain just one or two useful compounds, strawberries have plenty.

Apart from vitamin C, they contain several of the B vitamins, as well as vitamins E and K. They also contain minerals such as copper, calcium, manganese, and phosphorus.

Since you can only offer guinea pigs fruit occasionally, strawberries are a good, nutrient-rich treat. They provide your guinea pig a lot of useful stuff wrapped in a tasty package.

Health Risks: Are Strawberries Bad for Guinea Pigs?

You might be excited to start feeding your pet the summer treat you yourself adore. Sure, they don't contain anything downright toxic to your guinea pig. But there are still a few reasons why you shouldn't feed too much or too frequently.

It's best to feed strawberries (and their leaves too) in moderation.

1. Sugar

It's only about 5 grams out of 100, you might say. This much sugar really won't cause any problems for your average human being, true. But guinea pigs are another story. They are prone to some health problems, among them obesity and diabetes. And too much sugar in their diet is often the biggest cause behind these issues.

Sugar can also upset the guinea pig's digestive system. They have very sensitive, delicate tummies. Too much sugar can alter the bacterial flora in their guts, causing digestive problems like bloating and diarrhea.

Need we say more? Strawberries do contain enough sugar to cause your pet problems if he eats too much. It's important to limit his intake to avoid a whole host of unwanted issues.

2. Take Note of the Calcium

Guinea pigs, just like rabbits, will absorb a significant portion of the calcium they consume. They don't self-regulate like most other animals. And when the calcium accumulates in excess, it can lead to bladder stones.

Strawberries contain a fair amount of calcium. If combined with otherwise healthy, but high-calcium foods like kale and broccoli, it may cause bladder problems. For this reason, it's best to feed strawberries (and their leaves too) in moderation.

3. Strawberries Can Be a Pesticide Hazard

Unfortunately, strawberries are among the most-sprayed of summer favorites. Commercial growers will douse them heavily and frequently with pesticides to maximize their yields. Traces of these pesticides will often remain on the berry and plant as a whole.

Be sure to wash the strawberry thoroughly before feeding any to your guinea pig. It will minimize the risk of your pet ingesting any poisonous chemical and falling sick. We realize it's not always possible, but go for organic if you can. These are guaranteed to be pesticide-free and are the healthiest, safest bet for your pet.

4. Strawberries Contain Acid

Well-ripened strawberries taste great, and they do contain sugar, but they also contain various acids, with some varieties having more than others.

Your guinea pig has a very delicate tummy, so too much acid will likely result in indigestion. A stomach upset can be sheer misery for your pet. Best avoid any possibility of this happening and feed those strawberries in moderation.

Feeding Guidelines

We've already seen that strawberries (and all other fruit too) should be fed carefully. Too much is just not a good idea for your guinea pig's health.

Giving your guinea pig a serving of strawberry once a week is considered safe. You can measure out a tablespoon's worth and watch your furry pal enjoy it. 

If it's your guinea pig's first taste of strawberry, don't offer more than a teaspoon. Wait and watch for 24 hours to see what happens. If everything is okay, you can gradually increase it to a tablespoon over a few weeks.

If at all possible, it's good to add the tops and leaves too. They still contain all the useful things like vitamin C, but with much less sugar. You can wash and cut a couple of slices of a small strawberry. Then fill the rest of the serving up with the tops and leaves.

Strawberries on wooden table

Nutrition Facts

Strawberries are great because they contain a good mixture of valuable nutrients in fair amounts. They're also not as high on sugar as some other fruits.

Relatively Low-Calorie

You get about 32 calories in a 100-gram serving of strawberries. That's much lower than some other fruits, such as apricots and grapes. This makes them a safer bet for guinea pigs, prone as they are to obesity. 

Strawberries contain little protein and fat, with 0.7 and 0.3 grams out of 100, respectively. Your pet should be getting these nutrients from other foods as well, but the occasional strawberry won't hurt them.

Strawberries contain 7.7 grams of carbs for every 100, out of which about 5g are sugar. That is really not the worst there is out there, but it is part of the reason why you shouldn't feed your guinea pig strawberries in large quantities.

Great Source of Vitamin C

With all of 58.8 mg per 100 grams, strawberries are a rich source of this all-important vitamin. They also contain several vitamins from the B group, as well as A, E, and K.

Good Source of Minerals

Calcium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus are all present in strawberries in good amounts. Other minerals like magnesium and selenium are also there, although in smaller quantities.

There are 16mg of calcium in 100 grams of strawberry. It is another good reason to feed only a little of this fruit when it comes to guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are prone to calcium deficiency, but too much calcium is not good either and can lead to problems like bladder stones.

Bottom line: Can Guinea Pigs Have Strawberries?

Strawberries are overall a great source of valuable nutrients to your guinea pig, especially vitamin C. When fed in moderation, especially if the tops and leaves are included, they're great for your pet.

But just as with most things, too much is not helpful and can lead to health issues. The main thing to remember is not to exceed the serving size and frequency. And do wash the fruit thoroughly.

If you stick to feeding a maximum of one tablespoon once weekly, a healthy guinea pig will do just fine. And if your pet does have some health issues, it's always best to check with your vet first. 

Guinea Pigs And Strawberries - FAQ

Can guinea pigs eat strawberry jam?

No, guinea pigs can not eat strawberry jam because it is full of sugar. There is nothing toxic in it for them, but it is certainly not recommended because the sugar content of strawberry jam is very high and may cause health issues for your guinea pig.

Eating too much sugar will harm the gut flora of your cavy and cause stomach upsets. A diet with too much sugar may also lead to obesity and diabetes. Strawberry jam contains too much sugar for your guinea pig to handle and should therefore be avoided.

Vet's Comment

Strawberries are practically a Vitamin C superfood for our little cavy friends, but they are also high in sugar (about 5%), so they should only be given as an extra special treat on those hot, summer days.

When offering your little piggy strawberry for the first time, only offer a tiny amount with some of the leaves and monitor them for an upset tummy before giving more.

Prone to carrying a little extra weight, guinea pigs shouldn't receive too many treats, and certainly strawberry should be an occasional treat (a maximum of once per week). If you still want to treat your piggy on a diet, you can just offer small amounts of the tops and leaves as they contain less sugar but are still crammed with vitamins.

- 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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