June 15, 2020

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes Safely?

Cavy Food Guide

Fact checked by Dr. Edele Grey, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

Our little furry friends are pure herbivores. Their diet should be based on grasses, uncooked vegetables, and fruits.

Some veggies and fruits are good for your guinea pig, while others are downright toxic. Guinea pigs love to eat tomatoes of all kinds. But as with all foods, care should be taken.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat tomatoes. However, only the flesh of the fruit is safe to eat. Tomatoes are a nightshade plant, and the leaves, stem, and unripe tomatoes contain solanine, which is a toxin for guinea pigs. Also, follow our vet-checked feeding instructions to avoid any severe health issues like indigestion or bloating.

Pellet food is essential for your guinea pig’s wellbeing. It will provide all-important Vitamin C and promote digestive health. Which pellets should you choose? Learn more.

Health Benefits: Are Tomatoes Good for Guinea Pigs?

The bulk of your guinea pig's diet should always be fresh hay and green leafy vegetables. Guinea pigs love fruits, but better save these for snack time. Fruits generally have high sugar content, which can cause health problems for your furry friend.

Check that any tomatoes you feed your pet are ripe, free of leaves and stems, and washed.

Cherry, plum, beefsteak, name it, most guinea pigs love tomatoes. They will happily pick them out of their dish and nibble on them. Given in moderation, tomatoes are actually good for your guinea pig. Ripe tomato flesh, skin, and seeds can all be safely consumed by your pig. As already mentioned, tomato leaves and stems are to be avoided.

The leaves and stems contain solanine, which is very toxic to guinea pigs. Unripe tomatoes also contain high quantities of solanine, and should not be fed to your pet.

cherry tomatoes on table

1. High-Value, Low-Sugar Snack

Tomatoes are great because they're quite low in sugar, containing only about 2.6 grams out of 100. High amounts of sugar can contribute to obesity in guinea pigs. This, in turn, can lead to heart problems and increased blood pressure.

Tomatoes also contain many essential nutrients for your guinea pig, including vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium.

They are low in calories too. However, many of the nutrients are not present in very high quantities. Feeding your pet a variety of other fruits and vegetables will ensure a balanced diet.

2. Low On Calcium

Tomatoes are low on calcium, which is excellent for your guinea pig. They do need a little calcium to promote bone growth and development. But too much can cause problems in guinea pigs.

Excess calcium in their diet can lead to bladder and urinary tract issues. Tomatoes are a safe food in this respect, providing good nutrition without excess calcium.

3. Excellent Source Of Vitamin C

Tomatoes contain the right amount of vitamin C, which is of special importance. Guinea pigs cannot manufacture or store vitamin C in their bodies, so they need a constant source of it in their diets to remain healthy.

A guinea pig requires 25-40mg of vitamin C daily. A lack of this vitamin could cause your pet to develop scurvy, which causes weakness and gum disease. Tomatoes contain 13.7mg of vitamin C per 100g, so they are a great addition to your pet's diet.

Just remember, the best diet is one with a variety of nutrient sources. Tomatoes are great and can be fed regularly to your guinea pig. But keep the quantity moderate. You can add other green leafy vegetables and fruit to create variety and balance.

Health Risks: Are Tomatoes Bad for Guinea Pigs?

Tomatoes are generally a healthy addition to your guinea pig's diet. However, just as any food, they can cause problems if not fed properly. They are nutritious but can cause health issues if fed excessively.

Tomato leaves and stems should never be fed to a guinea pig

1. Leaves And Stems Are Toxic

We've already mentioned that tomato leaves and stems should never be fed to a guinea pig. These contain solanine, which is very toxic to this little animal. Feeding these could even cause your pet to die. Tomatoes that are not fully ripe should be avoided for the same reason.

Any variety of tomato is okay to feed, from small cherry tomatoes to large beefsteak ones. Just double-check that the tomato is ripe and has no leaves or stems attached.

2. Chemical Residues

It also makes sense to wash your tomatoes thoroughly before feeding them to your guinea pig. Most of our vegetables and fruits come with pesticide residue. These chemicals can be really harmful to both you and your guinea pig.

Giving your tomato a thorough wash will remove any traces of pesticide and dirt. It will make the tomato safer to feed to your pet.

3. Acid May Cause Indigestion

Tomatoes contain plenty of good stuff, but they also contain some acids. Guinea pigs have sensitive stomachs. If ingested in large enough quantities, these acids could cause bloating. Some guinea pigs are more sensitive than others.

In some, the bloating is mild, while in others, it can cause severe pain and discomfort. When introducing tomatoes to a guinea pig, start with a very small amount, and observe. Monitor your pet for a few hours after feeding the tomato. If you see any signs of severe bloating or discomfort, contact a vet for help.

4. Moderation Is Key

While tomatoes are low in calories, they contain lots of water. A tomato is over 94% water. This high water content doesn't leave much space for essential nutrients. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, but quite low on most other nutrients your pig needs. Feeding large quantities of tomato is, therefore, not the best idea.

Serving Size and How to Feed?

Moderation is really the answer. Too little, and your guinea pig will not get enough out of the tomato. Too much or too frequently, and it could cause your pet health problems.

A good rule of thumb is one cubic inch of tomato per serving.

This translates to one cherry tomato, or one slice of a big one, such as a beefsteak tomato. You can offer your guinea pig this tasty treat twice a week without worrying.

Be sure to wash the tomato thoroughly before serving to your pig. Please avoid any that are unripe or rotten, and remove any leaves and stems. The fresher your tomato is, the better for your guinea pig.

Start Small, Build Up

If you are feeding your guinea pig tomato for the first time, please start slow. Give a very small piece, to begin with, and monitor for negative effects. If all seems well, slowly add onto the serving size. It is safest to keep the serving frequency to twice per week.

Just like us humans, guinea pigs have tastes and preferences. If your furry friend doesn't like tomatoes, don't worry. There are other fruits and leafy greens that will provide the nutrition your friend needs. Broccoli, zucchini, and cucumber are a few possible alternatives to tomato.

Nutrition Facts

The exact nutritional value of tomato will vary from fruit to fruit. The soil it was grown in, fertilizers applied, and many other factors contribute.

But in general, all tomatoes are low calorie with a lot of water. They're also high in vitamin C and potassium.

  • Low-Calorie Content

Tomatoes offer only 18 calories per 100 grams, which is very low compared to most other fruits. The reason behind this is the high water content. At 94.5%, a tomato is mostly water.  

  • Low values for protein and fat

It also has low values for protein and fat, at 0.9 grams and 0.2 grams per 100. It is good, as guinea pigs really don't need much of either in their diet.

  • The fiber content is not significant and sugar is low

At only 1.2 grams per 100, the fiber content is not significant. But this is not a surprise, as the tomato is mostly water. Sugar is low, with 2.6 grams per 100. In itself, this is quite good.

The fiber to sugar ratio is not great, with sugar more than double the amount of fiber. It shouldn't pose a problem, though, as the sugar content is quite low. Also, because you're feeding tomato in moderate amounts, it's unlikely to cause any adverse effects.

  • Big On Vitamins, Low On Calcium

We already talked about the high content of vitamin C in tomatoes. At 13.7mg per 100 grams, this is definitely a reasonable amount for your guinea pig. Calcium is quite low, coming in at 11mg per 100 grams making tomatoes a healthy option for your cavy.

Tomatoes also contain 1499 IU of vitamin A per 100grams and 427mg of potassium. Phosphorus comes in at 43mg per 100 grams. Tomatoes do not contain any cholesterol, another great reason to feed them to your guinea pig.

Bottom line: Can Guinea Pigs Have Tomatoes?

Most guinea pigs love snacking on tomatoes, and there is every reason to let them. Tomatoes will give your guinea pig a healthy source of much-needed vitamin C.

At the same time, they're low on calories, sugar, and calcium, and contain no cholesterol. All of this is great for your guinea pig.

Just remember, moderation keeps your pet safe. Start slow and gradually build up, not exceeding two servings per week. Your guinea pig's tummy will thank you for it.

Tomatoes for Guinea Pigs - FAQ

Can guinea pigs eat tomatoes with seeds?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat tomatoes with seeds. While your cavy should never eat stems and leaves of a tomato because they are poisonous, the skin, flesh, and seeds of tomatoes are perfectly safe for them. Tomato seeds are quite soft and small, so your guinea pig should have no trouble chewing them.

Vet's Comment

Tomatoes are a fantastic, hydrating treat for your furry buddy during the warm summer months.

Feed small amounts (e.g. 1 cherry tomato) 1-2 times per week, and your cavy shouldn't have any problems.

Always make sure that any tomato you give your guinea pig is fully ripe and never give any tomato greens. Solanine is a chemical found in the leaves and unripe tomatoes, which is extremely toxic to cavies.

- 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 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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