Can guinea pigs eat cabbage? Yes, but it shouldn’t be a regular part of their diet. Despite providing many of the nutrients necessary to keep cavies healthy, cabbage can cause a painful–and sometimes dangerous–condition called bloat, as well as other digestive issues.
Standard green cabbage is loaded with Vitamin C, but it also supplies potassium, magnesium, Vitamins A and B6, calcium, and tons of fiber. A healthy choice as a weekly addition to a guinea pig’s fresh veggies, too much cabbage is likely to cause some tummy trouble.
The takeaway: cabbage is great as an occasional supplement, but not as a daily veggie.
For those that are interested, we’ll take a closer look at why and how guinea pigs can eat cabbage and consider the pros and cons.
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Is Cabbage Good For Guinea Pigs?
He says yes!
Guinea pigs rely on a varied, healthy diet to supply the vitamins and minerals they need. And in addition to unlimited Timothy hay and fortified pellets, they need a full cup of vegetables every day to ensure that they get the nutrition required to keep them in top shape.
Leafy greens like arugula, chard, and parsley, as well as tubers like sweet potato and carrot, help to round out a guinea pig’s diet. Cabbage has a well-earned reputation as a healthy choice for people, and for the most part, that’s true for piggies as well.
All three of these common kinds of cabbage are packed with nutrients.
Standard green cabbage supplies a lot of the vitamins and minerals our furry friends require, and with Vitamins A, B6, and C, iron, protein, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and fiber, it’s clear that cabbage is a “superfood.”
Red cabbage is even better, bumping the amount of Vitamin C from “great” to “excellent.” Chinese cabbage, also known as Napa cabbage, provides even more nutrients–especially Vitamins A and C–than green cabbage, but it also adds even more calcium.
That may not be as much of a problem as you might expect, however. Cabbage of all kinds is low in oxalates, a naturally occurring chemical that can increase the risk of bladder and kidney stones. That calcium by itself may increase the danger slightly, but without the addition of oxalates, it’s probably not something to be worried about.
Nevertheless, cabbage of any kind shouldn’t be given as a daily vegetable.
Is Cabbage Bad For Guinea Pigs?
In regular doses, yes.
From the perspective of nutrition, cabbage of any kind is a great addition to a guinea pig’s diet, boosting essential vitamins and providing the extra minerals that they need to thrive.
The problem is that during digestion, cabbage tends to produce a lot of gas. For humans, there’s a natural remedy, but cavies just aren’t built for that! In them, that gas can build up to painful–even dangerous–bloat.
This is bloat on an X-ray.
As experts explain, “…Bloat occurs when gas builds up in your pet’s gastrointestinal intestinal tract.” And veterinarians warn that bloat is a serious problem. As Lori Hageman, DVM, cautions, “Guinea pigs are not able to pass gas through their intestines, so the gas just stays in the intestines and produces severe pain. Guinea pig bloat can be fatal if untreated because their intestines [have] stopped moving, and they stop eating.”
Cabbage of all kinds is among the worst of the offenders, though bok choy, broccoli, and cauliflower also cause issues.
Bloat can be tricky to identify, but vets know what to look for. As Dr. Hegaman says, “Any guinea pig that starts to go off food should be evaluated for bloat. By the time the abdomen looks distended, the bloat is at a more advanced stage.”
How Much Cabbage Should a Guinea Pig Eat?
A few small leaves, two to three times a week, is the most you should offer your guinea pig.
Cabbage is rich in nutrients, and it can be an excellent way to ensure that your cavy gets what it needs. And most guinea pigs adore it, so there are no worries that they’ll pass it up.
But it’s vital that you do not overfeed this “superfood.”
How Should You Prepare Cabbage For Your Guinea Pigs?
Pesticide contamination is usually not a problem with cabbage, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
We recommend that you thoroughly wash cabbage using a vinegar and water solution.
Here’s how we do it.
Start by removing the cabbage leaves from the head. Fill a large bowl with one part white vinegar to four parts water. Submerge the leaves in this mixture and let them soak for 20 minutes.
Later, rinse each leaf in fresh water and pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Never offer a guinea pig frozen or cooked cabbage. All veggies need to be fresh and raw!
You can simply offer them a few leaves in their food bowl or by hand, or mix some cabbage into their daily salad!
This guy definitely approves of a little cabbage in his salad!
Cabbage can be a fantastic addition to your guinea pig’s diet, provided that you keep the following in mind:
- Cabbage is a great source of vitamins and minerals.
- But it can cause bloat in guinea pigs, and shouldn’t be offered daily.
- While cabbage isn’t one of the worst offenders when it comes to pesticides, we still recommend giving it a thorough rinse in a vinegar and water solution.
- A good serving size is 1 or 2 small leaves, two to three times a week.
If you stick to these guidelines, cabbage can be a fantastic addition to your guinea pig’s diet.