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Can Guinea Pigs Eat French Fries? Vet-Approved Facts & Safety Guide

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

close up of french fries

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Guinea pigs are popular pets due to their small size and docile temperaments. They are relatively easy to care for and make good pets for older children and adults alike. Ensuring that your guinea pig is fed a healthy and balanced diet is essential for their health. They are true herbivores, so their diet should consist of various plant-based foods.

When it comes to feeding your guinea pig, you only want to offer them species-appropriate foods that will not harm their health. Unfortunately, human foods like french fries are not appropriate for guinea pigs to eat and should not be fed to them.

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Feeding French Fries to Guinea Pigs

Let’s review whether french fries are safe for guinea pigs to eat or why you should avoid feeding them.

1. Safety Concerns

French fries are not safe for guinea pigs to eat because they contain potentially harmful ingredients and too much salt and fat. The main ingredients in french fries are potatoes, oils, salt, and other flavorings or spices. None of those ingredients are good for guinea pigs and do not belong in their diet.

The risks of feeding french fries to your guinea pig greatly outweigh any possible benefits. However, if your guinea pig had a small nibble of a french fry, it is unlikely to do any serious harm.


2. Too Much Salt

Most french fries have a high sodium content, even if labeled as “low in sodium”. This is because the amount of salt that is considered low for humans is still way too much for guinea pigs. Excessive salt intake can harm your guinea pig and put them at risk of dehydration. While salt does have a place in a guinea pig’s diet in small amounts, you should not offer them additional salt from human foods or salt licks.

french fries and salt on a wooden board
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

3. Alkaloids and Carbohydrate Content in Potatoes

Potatoes are the main ingredient in french fries, and they are unsafe for guinea pigs to eat. Aside from the potato’s high carbohydrate and starch content, they contain varying amounts of potentially harmful alkaloids like glycoalkaloids. These alkaloids are higher in green or sprouted potatoes, but are still found in fresh, ripe potatoes used to make fries.

The starch and alkaloids in potatoes, whether cooked, raw, or in the form of french fries can be difficult for guinea pigs to digest. More studies need to be done on the toxic profile of these alkaloids on companion animals like guinea pigs, but for now, owners are urged to avoid feeding them.


4. Oil and Flavorings

Guinea pigs should not have a lot of fatty foods, since the extra calories can lead to weight gain or an upset stomach. Sunflower, palm, canola, cottonseed, soybean, and corn oil can all be used to cook french fries. Those oils are too fatty for guinea pigs and difficult to digest, possibly leading to health complications.

Furthermore, french fries are meant for human consumption, so they often contain spices and flavorings to make them taste better for us. Spices like salt, pepper, cajun, and other flavorings are not suitable for guinea pigs to eat. These spices may irritate their digestive tract potentially causing diarrhea and stomach pain.


5. Oxalates

French fries contain oxalates which are naturally found in potatoes, particularly in the skin. While guinea pigs can safely eat small amounts of oxalate-rich veggies like spinach or beetroot, french fries should be avoided. Too many oxalates are not good for guinea pigs and may lead to painful urinary stones that may need to be surgically removed.

french fries
Image Credit: Matthias Böckel, Pixabay

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What Should Guinea Pigs Eat Instead?

Although it can be tempting to offer french fries to guinea pigs, there are many better and safer alternatives. Guinea pigs are herbivores and primarily eat hay and grasses with additional fresh vegetables, pellets and the occasional fruit. Depending on the pellet, they may also need a vitamin C supplement. An ideal guinea pig diet will be low in fat, carbohydrates, and salty foods while being high in fiber. French fries do not make the “safe list” of foods that guinea pigs can eat, even if you plan to feed them in moderation.

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Conclusion

French fries are not a species-appropriate food for guinea pigs and contain too many calories, fats, salt, and other flavorings to be safe. This is not to say that if your guinea pig happens to have a bite or two of a french fry that they will suffer long-lasting harm, just that eating a lot of fries can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. The amount of salt in french fries could lead to dehydration, while all the oil and starch may contribute to obesity.

A fiber-rich diet high in hay or grasses is recommended for guinea pigs and is needed for proper digestion. French fries do not belong in a guinea pig’s diet, even if you intend to feed it in small amounts.


Featured Image Credit: hansbenn, Pixabay

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