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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Seeds? Vet-Reviewed Toxicity & Safety Guide

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

variety of seeds

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

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

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All guinea pig owners know how important a proper diet is for their pet’s health and well-being. Guinea pigs are herbivores and thrive on a mixture of hays, pellets, and various leafy greens. An ideal guinea pig diet will be high in fiber and rich in vitamin C, with no harmful foods that could put their health at risk.

Although there are many safe foods for guinea pigs, seeds are not one of them. Seeds and nuts do not belong in a guinea pig’s diet and should be avoided, and this article will explain why.

Divider Guinea Pig

Is It Safe for Guinea Pigs to Eat Seeds?

No, most seeds are not safe for guinea pigs to eat because it is not a species-appropriate food. Guinea pigs are grazers and seeds are not a natural part of their diet. While most seeds aren’t toxic, they can present a choking hazard and their nutritional profile does not match a guinea pig’s requirements. Both small, hard seeds and the shells are a choking risk for guinea pigs, even if you plan to monitor them while they eat it.

Guinea pigs do not require seeds in their diet for nutrition like some other animals do. Most seeds do not meet a guinea pig’s low-fat and high-fiber diet. Seeds and nuts often contain more fat than a guinea pig needs which may contribute to excessive weight gain over time, and too little fiber. Seeds also lack vitamin C which is an essential nutrient in their diet as they cannot make it themselves.

Red Abyssinian Guinea Pig on green grass
Photo Credit: Tettania, Shutterstock

Are Seeds Toxic to Guinea Pigs?

Certain seeds could be toxic to guinea pigs and should not be fed at all. You generally want to avoid feeding seeds and fruit pits that contain amygdalin, a plant compound converted to cyanide during digestion. Fruit seeds and pits containing amygdalin include the ones from apples, cherries, apricots, and peaches. However, toxicity isn’t a major concern with most seeds that can be found in some guinea pig foods. The main issues are the seeds being a choking hazard, high in fat, and nutritionally inadequate for guinea pigs.

What If Your Guinea Pig’s Food Already Contains Seeds?

Most seeds in guinea pig muesli mixes such as sunflower seeds are not toxic to guinea pigs. However, they are a choking risk and should not be fed. While a few sunflower seeds might not harm your guinea pig, too many seeds in their diet could lead to a nutritional imbalance as they will become full without eating the correct balance of nutrients. It is better to choose a commercial guinea pig pellet food over a muesli mix. Although the food mixed with lots of seeds and variety looks appealing to us, and guinea pigs often love seeds, it is not entirely safe nor does it contain the correct balance of nutrients your pet requires to stay healthy.

guinea pig eating pellets from a feeding bowl
Photo Credit: Lost_in_the_Midwest, Shutterstock

What Seeds Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

Although you generally want to avoid feeding seeds to guinea pigs, there are a few exceptions. The soft seeds in foods like cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers are usually safe for guinea pigs to eat.

The seed heads from certain edible hays and grasses are also typically soft enough for guinea pigs to eat with few problems. Guinea pigs should have constant access to fresh hay or grasses, as it provides them with essential fiber. Hay and grasses are needed for proper digestive function and help keep their teeth in good shape.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bird Seed?

Guinea pigs should not be eating birdseed, even if it is only offered as a snack. Bird seed contains various small and hard seeds that are ideal for birds, but not guinea pigs.

Aside from being a choking hazard, the seed’s high-fat content is not appropriate for guinea pigs and shouldn’t be their main source of nutrition. If you want to add variety to your guinea pigs’ diet, it is best to only feed them species-appropriate foods.

In the wild, guinea pigs naturally eat fresh grasses and wild plants. At least 85% of your pet guinea pig’s diet should be hay or grass, they should also have fresh greens and vegetables each day and a small amount of guinea pig pellets.

Merino Guinea Pigs eating grass
Photo Credit: violetta, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

You generally want to avoid seeds, grains, and nuts in your guinea pig’s diet. An unlimited amount of orchard or timothy hay should be offered to guinea pigs, alongside pellets and suitable fresh veggies and small amounts of fruit. Guinea pig mueslis and other pet feeds with a high seed content should not be fed, even alongside hay or fresh foods.

Feeding seeds to your guinea puts them at risk of choking and the high-fat content of seeds can cause weight gain, while containing an imbalance of nutrients. However, the soft seeds found in bell peppers or cucumbers are usually safe for guinea pigs to eat.

Featured Image Credit: yesyesterday, Shutterstock

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