Can guinea pigs eat spinach? Yes, but only in small amounts–just one or two small leaves, once or twice a week. And while this “super green” is loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, it shouldn’t be everyday food for cavies.
Dark green spinach leaves are a potent source of Vitamins A and K, and they also provide a moderate dose of all-important Vitamin C. Packed with folate, iron, calcium, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, spinach deserves its reputation as a healthy choice for humans. But for guinea pigs, its calcium content can be a problem, especially as spinach is also high in oxalates.
The bottom line: spinach is a treat, not a staple.
For those that are interested, we’ll take a closer look at why and how guinea pigs can eat spinach, and consider the pros and cons.
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Is Spinach Good For Guinea Pigs?
Yes and no.
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 all the nutrition they need.
Leafy greens like arugula, chard, and parsley make great additions to a piggy’s diet, and you’d think that spinach–perhaps the green with the greatest reputation for healthiness–should be on that list.
Spinach is a true superfood. It’s packed with Vitamin A and K, loaded with iron and calcium, and rich in folate and fiber. And with respectable amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, what’s not to like?
The answer is simple: calcium and oxalates.
Oxalates are naturally occurring chemicals that plants use to regulate their levels of calcium. When guinea pigs (or people!) consume a diet high in oxalates, their risk of bladder and kidney stones increases. And given that cavies are already prone to these problems, spinach is really too much of a good thing for them.
As an occasional treat, spinach is fantastic. And if you’ve got a pregnant piggie, the extra iron may be just what she needs, provided you watch the portion sizes.
But if there’s one veggie that we see being overfed, it’s spinach!
Is Spinach Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Spinach can be a great addition to your guinea pig’s diet as an occasional treat, and it’s a fantastic way to boost overall nutrition–in small doses.
This is way too much spinach!
Oxalate-rich foods typically raise the risk of kidney and bladder stones in cavies, and they should be avoided as daily food choices.
How Should You Prepare Spinach For Your Guinea Pigs?
As a result, we recommend that you thoroughly wash spinach, using a vinegar and water solution.
Here’s how we do it.
Start by removing the spinach 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 freshwater and pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Never offer a guinea pig frozen or cooked spinach. All veggies need to be fresh and raw!
How Much Spinach Should a Guinea Pig Eat?
Because spinach is rich in both calcium and oxalates, it should be given as a treat rather than a staple component of your piggy’s diet.
One or two small leaves, given once or twice a week, is plenty.
Spinach can be a fantastic addition to your guinea pig’s diet, provided that you keep the following in mind:
- Spinach is loaded with vitamins and minerals, but it’s also rich in oxalates and calcium.
- That can lead to an increased chance of bladder and kidney stones.
- Those dark green leaves typically wear quite a bit of pesticide residue; it’s important that you wash them properly.
- Spinach should only be given as a treat–never as daily food; once or twice a week is plenty.
- A good serving size is 1 or 2 small leaves.
If you stick to these guidelines, spinach can be a fantastic addition to your guinea pig’s diet.