Best Natural & Healthy Guinea Pig Treats + What to Avoid

by Lindsay Pereira
Best guinea pig treats

There’s a good reason why our family lovingly refers to our senior guinea pig, Muffy, as “the bottomless pit.” As you can imagine, no doubt, it has something to do with her absolute, unabashed love of food. Before our very eyes, each and every time we feed her, fruits, vegetables, and greens vanish into thin air, leaving behind a fluffy cavy that looks at us like we’re starving her and an ever-growing pile of poop pellets.

And while I know all too well that Muffy will, most likely, eat everything I place in front of her – possibly even the kitchen sink – that doesn’t mean I should feed her whatever is available on hand. Instead, as a responsible pet parent, I understand the importance of providing a healthy diet for my furry friend. Not only at meal time, but at snack and treat time too. When it comes to treats, and food in general, there are definitely guidelines and restrictions we must keep in mind to maintain a healthy diet for our fur babies, ensuring a long, happy life.

Are you wondering what guinea pig treats you should feed your cute cavies? Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve rounded up an extensive list of the best, natural treats for your fuzzy little fluff balls!

Limit treats – even if they’re healthy!

Even if guinea pig treats you use are healthy and all-natural, you do still need to limit their intake. Guinea pigs have a voracious appetite, and as such, tend to plow through every morsel of food in their way. If you’re not keeping an eye on how much food is served – because they’re just too cute when they’re nibbling their yum-yums – then you may run the risk of overfeeding them. It’s best to keep track of meals and treats to ensure a healthy nutrition plan.

BTW, take a look at our guinea pig feeding schedule post for more inspiration!

Healthy guinea pig treats

Safe vegetables that guinea pigs love

Let’s dive right into our extensive list of healthy guinea pig treats!

Vegetables

  • Broccoli (in moderation, too much may cause gas)
  • Carrots (including tops)
  • Celery (it is recommended to remove celery strings as they are a choking hazard)
  • Cucumbers (including skin)
  • Parsnip
  • Peppers (any color, contains vitamin C, which is essential!)
  • Zucchini

How much to give: it is recommended to give approximately 1 cup of mixed vegetables per guinea pig per day.

We like to refer to a safe food list on the Happy Cavvy website for a complete list of safe vegetables (and fruits) and their restrictions.

Avoid these vegetables

  • Potatoes (toxic)
  • Rhubarb leaves (toxic)
  • Chili peppers

For a more detailed list of dangerous plants, visit the Happy Cavy website.

Greens

  • Arugula
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Frisee/curly (red and green)
  • Kale
  • Mixed greens
  • Radicchio
  • Romaine
  • Spinach (limit due to oxalic acid)
  • Swiss chard (red and green)
  • Cabbage

Avoid these salad greens:

  • Iceberg lettuce (high nitrate levels)

Iceberg lettuce is low in nutritional value and high in nitrate content. Therefore, it’s better to avoid it as it often causes diarrhea, which leads to dehydration.

Fruits

  • Apple (any color, keep peel, remove seeds as they are poisonous)
  • Berries (such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries)
  • Grapes (remove seeds)
  • Kiwi
  • Melon
  • Oranges
  • Pear (keep peel, remove seeds)
  • Watermelon

Restrictions: fruits should indeed be viewed as treats for their high sugar content, thus you must limit your pet to 3-4 servings per week, in total.

Guinea pig foraging plants

Plants

  • Chickweed
  • Coltsfoot
  • Dandelion
  • White Clover (don’t give too much of it because of high calcium content that can lead to bladder stones in a long run)
  • Mallow
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Plantain
  • Yarrow

Restrictions: While I was able to find some information on guinea pig safe plants, I could not find any guidelines on restrictions. As such, I would recommend these are fed in moderation to be on the safe side.

Resource: Guinea Pig Common Forages

Avoid these dangerous plants:

  • Buttercups
  • Deadly nightshade
  • Flowers of leaves from bulbs, such as tulips
  • Lily of the valley
  • Rhododendrons
  • Scarlet Pimpernel

Why commercial treats are unhealthy

Sure, you can purchase a wide variety of tasty treats at your local pet store, but are they just as healthy as all-natural food options? Unfortunately, the problem with commercial treats comes down to two main factors: lack of nutrition and high sugar content. Coupled with the fact that they’re normally comprised of fats, starches and artificial colors, and you’re looking at something that will ultimately jeopardize your guinea pigs’ health in the long run.

Best treats for training guinea pigs

Guinea pig training treats

For those of you in search of treat ideas to give during training, there are several great, all-natural foods that would work very well, most of which have already been mentioned. Ideally, with training, you would try out a few options, then note which ones your pets prefer – about 2 or 3 – and rotate between these favorites.

Keep in mind that whatever you choose, it should be safe for your guineas to ingest in high quantities. That means, no sugary, commercial treats, fruits with a high content of natural sugar, processed seeds or “people food.” Essentially, you’re going to be using vegetables for training, but only those that don’t cause discomfort or bloating from excess feeding.

Ideal for regular training sessions

The following list of foods is ideal for regular, consistent training and is safe for daily consumption.

  • Bell peppers – red, orange, yellow, or green (high in vitamin C)
  • Curly endive
  • Fresh, outdoor, pesticide-free grass (a few strands make a great reward)
  • Green leaf lettuce (rotate with other healthy options if used frequently for training)
  • Red leaf lettuce (rotate with other healthy options)
  • Romaine lettuce (stick to very green sections as they are tastiest and highest in nutrients)

Good for occasional training sessions

The following list of foods is ideal for rotation with other veggies or occasional, short training sessions. While they shouldn’t be your everyday, go-to list, these choices are perfectly fine when used on occasion when you run out of your regular veggies or want to add something new to the mix and liven up training.

  • Boston lettuce
  • Carrots (careful – high in sugar!)
  • Celery (with leaves, strings removed)
  • Cilantro
  • Cucumber (with or without skin)
  • Dandelion
  • Parsley
  • Swiss Chard
  • Zucchini (with or without skin)

Don’t use for training sessions

The following is a list of foods that are not well-suited for guinea pig training sessions, so avoid these at all costs, regardless of the quantity.

  • “People” food or table scraps (unless it’s fresh vegetables from the safe list)
  • Fruits (best in small amounts for occasional treats, too high in sugar for training)
  • Iceberg lettuce (insignificant nutritional value, often causes diarrhea)
  • Prepackaged commercial treats such as seed treats or yogurt drops (not a healthy option, high in sugar, and seeds can be a choking hazard).

My two cents

In my experience, it’s essential to limit fresh fruit, ensuring you don’t give more than the maximum amounts suggested. More so than greens and veggies, fruits really are treats to guineas as they’re very tasty, so much so that they can develop food preferences and start to refuse their other food options. As such, and to decrease the likelihood of boredom and preferences, I rotate all fresh foods – vegetables, lettuces, and fruits – every week.

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3 comments

Tammera Leroy June 19, 2019 - 7:15 am

We just got a a guinea pig about mouth age

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Tammera Leroy June 19, 2019 - 7:16 am

So is fleece good in their cages cuz he just has a cage and we just put down the recyclable papers once you know the ones they have in the store and he gets pellets and hay and and we just need some ideas you know and snack wise what he can and what he can’t have because one thing they say one thing and then they do another so anybody any have suggestions

Reply
Monika June 19, 2019 - 9:01 pm

Fleece is good but if you got paper bedding, it should be fine if it’s not dusty and your guinea pig is not eating it. There are lots of veggies and fruits you can give to your guinea pig as a snack, for example the ones we listed above, or you can take a look at this post for even more healthy snack ideas: http://happycavy.com/what-can-guinea-pigs-eat/

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