Can guinea pigs eat broccoli? Yes, but only in small amounts.
Loaded with fiber, broccoli also provides a huge boost in Vitamins A, B6, and C to your guinea pig’s diet, and many cavies enjoy the fresh green flavor of this popular vegetable. But with loads of calcium and oxalates, it’s important that you limit the amount of broccoli you offer your pet.
For those that are interested, we’ll take a closer look at why guinea pigs can eat broccoli in greater detail, and consider the pros and cons.
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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Broccoli?
Yes – in small amounts and infrequently.
Every guinea pig needs a full cup of fresh vegetables every day, which should add up to roughly 10% of its total daily calories. In addition to unlimited Timothy hay and fortified pellets, this ensures that they get all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they need.
Superficially, broccoli looks like a good addition. Its deep green color and reputation as a nutritious option might get you thinking about offering it to your furry friend–after all, from salads to casseroles, sides to main courses, you’ll find broccoli on people’s menus pretty regularly.
Indeed, packed with fiber, beneficial vitamins, and essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, broccoli earns its place on America’s plates.
But it’s important to keep in mind that guinea pigs are especially prone to bladder and kidney stones, and this otherwise healthy vegetable contains high doses of both calcium and oxalates.
Oxalates are naturally occurring chemicals in many plants that help them rid themselves of excess calcium. Unfortunately, in both people and piggies, oxalates bind with calcium during digestion, encouraging the formation of stones. And while the precise process of kidney and bladder stone formation in piggies isn’t well understood, that one-two punch of both means that in large amounts, or regular portions, broccoli is likely to cause some issues.
In short, while guinea pigs can eat oxalate-rich foods like broccoli in small amounts, they’re definitely not something that you should offer them daily.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Broccoli Stems or Stalks?
Guinea pigs can eat the head, stem, stalk, and leaves of broccoli. And many cavies actually prefer the leaves to the rest of the plant!
So the next time you buy a head of broccoli, let your piggie nibble on the leaves–it might dive right in!
How Much Broccoli Can I Give To My Guinea Pig?
This is the tricky bit.
To minimize the risk of bladder and kidney stones, it’s important to limit a guinea pig’s consumption of oxalate-rich foods like broccoli, but you’ll find plenty of online advice advocating daily doses of this green vegetable.
We don’t recommend that, but it’s OK to include fresh broccoli leaves, stems, stalks, or flowers in your cavy’s diet if you limit the amount to approximately a tablespoon once or twice a week.
Any more than that is probably too much of a good thing, and if your piggie already has urinary tract issues, we recommend holding off on broccoli (and any other high-oxalate vegetable) altogether.
Also, be aware that cruciferous veggies like broccoli can cause bloating and gas in your furry friends.
How Should You Prepare Broccoli For Guinea Pigs?
If you do choose to offer your guinea pig broccoli, it should always be given raw–never cooked.
We recommend offering the leaves whole, and the rest of the plant should be cut into small pieces. Broccoli stems and stalks can be quite fibrous, so a quick once over with a sharp knife will make them easier to eat and digest.
Another technique for the thick stalks is to use a vegetable peeler to remove their fibrous outer layer, revealing the crisp, delicious interior. Just dice it into small pieces, and offer a tablespoon to your piggie with the rest of its fresh veggies.
Broccoli can be a healthy addition to your cavy’s diet, but there are risks as well as rewards.
While they’re a great source of essential vitamins, broccoli contains both calcium and oxalates, a potent combination that adds up to an increased risk of bladder and kidney stones.
If you do decide to include broccoli in your cavy’s diet, keep the following in mind:
- Guinea pigs can eat the stems, stalks, flowering head, and leaves.
- Small portions of broccoli–about a tablespoon–can be fed to your piggie once or twice a week–and no more!
- Never feed a guinea pig cooked broccoli–raw is the way to go.
If you follow these guidelines, it’s generally safe to add broccoli to your guinea pig’s menu.
Check out our Ultimate Guinea Pig Food List