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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chocolate?

Tara Perreault

By Tara Perreault

Chocolate

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Guinea pigs have delicate digestive systems, and should only eat nutritious and healthy plant matter. So, can guinea pigs eat chocolate? No, guinea pigs cannot eat chocolate. The compounds in chocolate are toxic to most pets, including cats and dogs, and could be  very dangerous for guinea pigs even in small doses.

In this article, you’ll learn why chocolate is unsafe for guinea pigs and what to do if they accidentally ingest chocolate.

Divider Guinea Pig

Why Can’t Guinea Pigs Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate contains high levels of caffeine, sugar, and oxalates and varying levels of theobromine. A guinea pig’s system cannot handle sugar and caffeine, among other ingredients chocolate possesses.

Oxalates 1 are natural compounds found in nuts, tea, potatoes, cereals, grains, and many fruits and vegetables. Many of these are not recommended for your guinea pigs as foods high in oxalates can contribute to the development of kidney and bladder stones.

Theobromine 2 is a primary alkaloid in chocolate derived from a cacao tree. Chocolate also contains theobromine which causes increased heart rates, tremors, seizures, and death in extreme cases. Darker chocolate contains more theobromine than milk chocolate.

All the more reason chocolate is unsafe for guinea pigs.

guinea pig in a cage
Image Credit: Dev_Maryna, Shutterstock

Nutritional Chocolate Facts

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact nutritional value of chocolate since it depends on the type of chocolate and there are so many available. However, the nutritional values of a 100g (½ US cup) dark chocolate bar (45-59% cacao solids) include 3:

Ingredients Per 100g dark chocolate
Fat 33.1 g
Sodium 24 mg
Carbohydrates 61.2 g
Sugar 47.9 g
Calcium 56 mg
Potassium 559 mg
Phosphorus 206mg

Every ingredient chocolate contains is potentially toxic to guinea pigs in high doses.

The signs of feeding your guinea pig chocolate are:
  • Digestive issues
  • Nausea and tremors
  • High body temperature
  • Fast heart rate
  • Hyperactivity/restlessness

Although you mainly control what your guinea pigs eat, it’s hard to watch them 24/7, especially if you have children who don’t know the consequences. Luckily, there are a few things you can do if your guinea pig accidentally ingests chocolate.

old guinea pig with grey long hair is reaching for the food
Image Credit: Chertamchu, Shutterstock

What to Do if Your Guinea Pig Accidentally Ate Chocolate

First, keep calm and remove the chocolate to prevent further consumption. Take note of how much and what kind of chocolate your guinea pig ate. Make a call to your veterinary clinic for advice on what to do next. This will depend greatly on the theobromine content of the chocolate, how much was consumed and how long ago.

If your guinea pig ate a small amount of white chocolate, then the risks are lower than with a larger amount of dark chocolate.

Provide your guinea pig with fresh water and foods containing water, like lettuce, cucumbers, and celery, to help flush their system. Monitor for digestive upset or any other concerning signs; these may take several hours to begin to show.

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A Healthy Guinea Pig Diet

A healthy guinea pig diet should comprise a majority of good quality Timothy hay available at all times. In addition they should have around 1 cup of mixed vegetables per day and a tablespoon of guinea pig pellets. Fruit is considered a treat and should not make up more than 5% of their diet. Vitamin C is crucial to your guinea’s diet because they cannot produce vitamin C alone.

Here are some great treat ideas for your guinea pigs:

  • Asparagus
  • Cilantro
  • Carrots
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Turnip greens
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Watermelon

Ensure none of your vegetables are cooked and prepared correctly in bite-size pieces to avoid choking.

Guinea Pig eating a carrot
Image Credit: enchanted_fairy, Shutterstock

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Final Words

So, can guinea pigs eat chocolate? No, not even a little bit. Chocolate contains things such as oxalates and harmful alkaloids like caffeine and theobromine. Caffeine and theobromine are two ingredients that are detrimental to a guinea pig’s health and could even result in death.

If you suspect your guinea pig has eaten chocolate, it’s best to contact your vet immediately for advice.

https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-feeding#:~:text=Guinea%20pigs%20don’t%20usually,foods%20in%20their%20daily%20diet.


Featured Image Credit: WS Studio, Shutterstock

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