Sometimes, we feel a bit guilty about our pets not having as varied diets as we do. After all, if we enjoy a bunch of different foods, surely, they would, too. So, it’s tempting to branch out in what you’re feeding them. However, this isn’t always wise, as some foods can be quite bad for our pets.
When it comes to guinea pigs, many wonder if peanut butter is safe for them. Peanut butter has nutritional value for us, so it stands to reason it would be okay for our guinea pigs. So, can guinea pigs eat peanut butter? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Peanut butter can be harmful to our guinea pigs for a few reasons. Curious as to what those are? Continue reading to find out!
Why Peanut Butter Is Bad for Guinea Pigs
The main reason peanut butter is bad for guinea pigs is because it poses a choking hazard. Peanut butter is thick and sticky, so it’s difficult for them to swallow. It can get stuck to the roof of their mouths or even in the back of their throats, increasing the likelihood of choking. So, even without the other possible health risks from peanut butter, the increased risk of choking is reason enough not to give this food to your pet.
But peanut butter being a choking hazard isn’t this food’s only possible negative effect on your guinea pig. Why else would peanut butter be harmful?
High in Calories
Peanut butter is incredibly high in calories—a single tablespoon contains 94 calories! Even a teaspoon of this food has 31 calories, which is a lot for a guinea pig (especially coming from just one food). This holds even more true since guinea pigs can easily become obese if they don’t eat the right foods or get enough exercise. And being overweight can lead to health issues, such as higher blood pressure, arthritis, and even an early death.
Too Much Sugar
Peanut butter doesn’t just have lots of calories; it also contains a lot of sugar and carbs, and eating too much of these can lead to diabetes in your guinea pig. Too many carbs can also result in gastrointestinal issues for your pet. Diabetes may be a treatable disease, but it’s best to avoid your guinea pig developing it in the first place by feeding it a balanced and healthy diet.
So, we know that peanut butter is high in calories and sugar, but does it contain too much of anything bad for your guinea pig? Indeed, it does. Peanut butter also has a lot of fiber. Now, fiber is good for your guinea pig; they do require a fair amount in their diets. However, that fiber needs to come from healthy sources for your pet, such as vegetables and hay.
Your guinea pig should also be getting indigestible and digestible fiber in their diet, and peanut butter only offers one type of fiber. Without the proper balance of fibers, your guinea pig will have difficulty digesting the peanut butter and can develop stomach pain, loose stools, and gas.
There’s something else peanut butter is high in—calcium! Just a single tablespoon has 16 grams of calcium, which is a large amount for your guinea pig. Guinea pigs do need calcium, of course, particularly since they can develop a calcium deficiency (especially when pregnant or nursing). However, too much calcium can also have a harmful effect in that it can lead to bladder stones. And, if not treated, calcium build-up can result in renal failure. Calcium is something you don’t want to allow your guinea pig to have too much of!
What Can I Feed My Guinea Pig?
As you can see, peanut butter is a highly unhealthy food for your tiny friend and can pose a choking hazard, so it’s best to avoid it. There are several healthy foods you can give your guinea pig, though! Whether it’s a new addition to their regular meals or just as a snack, try one of the following and see whether your pet enjoys it. (But when it comes to fruit, stick to giving it to your pet in moderation due to the sugar content!) Also, keep in mind that your guinea pig will be perfectly happy with its hay and pellets, and those foods will provide it with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy!
Safe & Healthy Foods for Your Guinea Pig
- Apples (skin, core, and seeds removed)
- Broccoli (in moderation)
- Dandelion greens
- Rolled oats
- Romaine lettuce
When it comes to peanut butter, this is one food you should avoid giving your guinea pig! Peanut butter has a consistency that poses a choking hazard to your pet, plus it contains many things that can cause harm to your guinea pig. From the high sugar content that could lead to diabetes to the amount of calcium that could result in bladder stones, peanut butter can be downright dangerous for your guinea pig.
However, you can give plenty of other foods to your guinea pig if you want to add some variety to their diet. Giving your pet the occasional fruit or veggie that is guinea pig-safe instead will make it incredibly happy and keep it healthy!