Can guinea pigs eat kale? Yes, but only in small amounts–just one or two leaves, and only two to three times a week.
Kale is one of the most nutritious greens you’ll find, and it’s absolutely packed with Vitamins A and C. It’s also relatively high in potassium, iron, Vitamin B6, and magnesium, as well as healthy amounts of protein.
That’s a lot to like, especially for guinea pigs who tend to be deficient in Vitamin C!
Unfortunately, kale is also relatively high in calcium, providing roughly 254mg per 100g, and with the natural oxalates it contains, it increases the risk of bladder and kidney stones in cavies.
The bottom line: kale is a great addition to your guinea pig’s diet, but only if it’s offered in moderation.
For those that are interested, we’ll take a closer look at why and how guinea pigs can eat kale and consider the pros and cons.
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Read more: List of Food For Guinea Pigs That Are Safe!
Is Kale Good For Guinea Pigs?
Yes and no.
Most guinea pigs adore fresh kale.
Kale is practically a multivitamin in vegetable form. Loaded with Vitamins A and C, and boasting healthy doses of potassium, magnesium, iron, and protein–as well as plenty of fiber to keep your cavy’s tummy happy–this dark, leafy green is a fantastic way to ensure the nutrition that will help your furry friend to thrive.
And while guinea pigs should always be offered unlimited Timothy hay and fortified pellets, vets recommend a cup of fresh veggies every day to round out their diet.
Kale can certainly be a component of this salad–but not every day.
But in terms of Vitamins A and C, kale is exceptional, and despite what you may have read elsewhere, kale’s mega-dose of the former isn’t dangerous – but quite the opposite! Scientists studying cavies and Vitamin A found that they actually need a fair amount, “between 1.67 and 9.9 mg/kg.”
Unfortunately, kale contains a large amount of calcium, roughly 254mg per 100g. That’s about 2 ½ times the amount in spinach! Calcium by itself isn’t terrible–but in combination with oxalates, it forms crystals that can become bladder and kidney stones.
Fortunately, kale’s oxalate content is moderate, just 17mg, which lowers that risk relative to known offenders like spinach and chard.
But–and this is a big but–kale still isn’t safe to feed your furry friend every day.
Kale offers a fantastic boost in nutrition, but it should only be offered in small quantities, 2 to 3 times a week.
Is Kale Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Fresh kale provides a lot of essential vitamins and minerals, and together with fiber and protein, it provides an awful lot of dietary goodness.
This little guy has kale on his mind!
But the combination of a high amount of calcium, along with moderate levels of oxalates, can increase your guinea pig’s risk of bladder and kidney stones.
It’s essential that you limit the amount of kale you offer your cavies, adding it no more than a few times a week to supplement your buddy’s veggies.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Kale Stems?
In fact, the stems are even higher in fiber than the leaves, and are just as delicious!
So if you’re cooking kale for yourself, don’t throw away the stems–they make a great treat for your furry friend.
How Should You Prepare Kale For Your Guinea Pigs?
Unfortunately, the kale you buy at the store is often contaminated with pesticide residue, and while the dose is probably not enough to make you sick, it can do significant harm to a tiny guinea pig.
Unless you grow your own kale at home, we recommend that you wash this veggie thoroughly in a vinegar and water solution.
Always wash your kale carefully!
Here’s how we do it.
Simply fill a large bowl with one part white vinegar to four parts water. Tear the kale leaves from the main stalk, and submerge them 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.
You can offer kale leaves whole or tear them into smaller pieces.
As you’d expect, we also recommend fresh, unfrozen kale–and never, ever cooked!
How Much Kale Should a Guinea Pig Eat?
Kale is a great source of vitamins and minerals, and it can help ensure that your guinea pig gets the dietary nutrients it needs. Kale also helps add variety to your cavy’s daily salad.
But with both calcium and oxalates in abundance, we recommend no more than 1 to 2 leaves, 2 to 3 times a week.
More than that will increase your cavy’s risk of bladder and kidney stones. And if your guinea pig has already been diagnosed with either, even less (or none) is smart.
Kale can be a fantastic addition to your guinea pig’s diet, provided that you keep the following in mind:
- Kale is especially rich in vitamins and minerals, but it’s also a source of both oxalates and calcium.
- That can lead to an increased chance of bladder and kidney stones.
- We recommend washing kale in a vinegar and water solution.
- Never offer cooked or canned kale to your cavy–fresh only!
- The recommended serving of kale is 1 to 2 leaves, 2 to 3 times a week.
If you stick to these guidelines, kale is a great way to ensure that your cavy gets the vitamins and minerals needed to stay healthy.