Dandelions are wrongly considered a weed and plucked out or killed by using pesticides and insecticides. But they are actually very useful culinary and medicinal herb. As a culinary herb, dandelion is used in salad bowls, soups, wine, and teas. And as a medicinal herb, they are used as a skin toner, digestive tonic, and blood tonic. Dandelions are safe and healthy for guinea pigs but what about our fur babies? Can guinea pigs eat dandelions? Or are dandelions poisonous to guinea pigs?
Keep on reading to know if you can add dandelions to your guinea pig diet or not.
Before we get to learn about Dandelions and guinea pigs, we should learn about the general guinea pig diet.
Guinea Pig Diet
Guinea pigs are natural herbivores. Living in the wild, they used to graze and forage for food all day long to fill their tummies and meet all their nutritional requirements. Since guinea pigs have been domesticated, they are dependent on their owners to provide for their food—a balanced diet. In captivity, a guinea pig should have unlimited access to timothy hay throughout the day. More so, it should be provided an ample amount of timothy hay-based guinea pig pellets.
More so, guinea pigs should be provided an external source of vitamin C as they cannot produce their own vitamin C. You can provide vitamin C tablets and vitamin C drops to your guinea pigs to meet their vitamin C requirements and stave off scurvy.
In addition, guinea pig owners are also advised to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to guinea pigs to make their diet interesting. But while offering fruits and veggies to guinea pigs, it should be kept in mind that not all of them are safe and healthy for guinea pigs. Ok, but what about dandelion? Can guinea pigs eat dandelions?
What is Dandelion?
Dandelions are very common plants growing in lots of places—perhaps, one or two dandelions are growing in your garden as well. You can easily identify Dandelions with their yellow-colored flowers shimmering in the sunlight. Using data from USDA Food Central, below we have listed some of the useful nutrients 100 grams of dandelions have to offer.
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Dietary fibers||3.5 g|
|Vitamin C||35 mg|
|Vitamin A||10200 IU|
|Beta Carotene||5850 µg|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||13600 µg|
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dandelions?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat dandelions. Dandelions make a safe and healthy snack for guinea pigs, provided it is being fed in moderation. Most guinea pigs love eating dandelion. However, while feeding dandelion, you will have to be a bit careful and if you are not, you might get your piglet in serious trouble.
What Parts of Dandelions can guinea pigs eat? Can guinea pigs eat dandelion leaves? Can guinea pigs eat dandelion stem? Can guinea pigs eat dandelion stem?
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dandelion Leaves?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat dandelion leaves. In fact, dandelion leaves make a better treat for our guinea pig that the usual dandelion as they contain a higher content of vitamins than many other breeds. If you have a dandelion plant growing in your garden, you should not pluck the whole plant but only cut the leaves leaving some plant stem behind, from which a new plant would emerge.
Are Dandelions Good for Guinea Pigs?
Yes, dandelions have to confer many nutritional benefits to guinea pigs. Below we have discussed some of the health benefits of dandelions for guinea pigs.
Dandelions are laden with Dietary Fibers
Guinea pigs need a lot of dietary fibers in their diet for the effective bowel movement and maintenance of their overall gut health. Dandelions contain a high amount—3.5g per 100g—of these dietary fibers. So guinea pigs eating dandelions would be getting dietary fibers to make their digestive system run seamlessly.
Dandelions contain a lot of antioxidants like vitamin A, Beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which help our guinea pigs maintain a healthy immune system and ward off the risk of chronic diseases like cancer. Actually, antioxidants help prevent free radical damage. More so, these antioxidants also help in maintaining a healthy vision.
Dandelions contain a litany of useful minerals for guinea pigs such as potassium, sodium, and calcium. Which are necessary for small amounts for the proper functioning of guinea pigs.
However, you should also know that dandelions contain an undesirable amount of calcium and a diet high in calcium is a big no-no for guinea pigs. therefore, we all should keep an eye on the calcium intake of guinea pigs. Since it has the potential to cause urinary tract and bladder stones in guinea pigs with the accumulation of calcium and phosphorous.
Dandelions provide Potassium
Potassium is a very useful element for guinea pigs a sit helps them maintain healthy blood pressure. This potassium is present in dandelions—100 grams of dandelions contain 397 mg of potassium—making it a great source of potassium.
Potassium also helps in easing the process of urinating for guinea pigs by removing salts and toxins from the body through their urine.
Dandelions Provide Vitamin C to Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs contain vitamin C, which helps ward off scurvy in guinea pigs. But you should know that dandelions do not have ample vitamin C. It has only 35 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of dandelion. This makes us realize that dandelions might not be an ideal snack for guinea pigs as they need more vitamin C.
Health Risks Involved in guinea pig eating Dandelions
Where dandelions have many health benefits to offer to guinea pigs, if ingested in excess, there could be side effects.
Gastrointestinal Health Issues
Not only Dandelions, eating any fruit or vegetable in excess leads to the development of gastrointestinal health issues with guinea pigs experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, and extreme abdominal pain.
Given that dandelions have to offer a lot of dietary fibers to guinea pigs, eating in excess could be counterproductive. It can result in undesirable laxative and diuretic effects causing a loose stool in guinea pigs.
Dandelions are loaded with calcium and ingesting calcium in excess can cause urinary problems in guinea pigs. Excessive calcium is accumulated in the kidneys and bladder and leads to the development of kidney and bladder stones.
Feeding Dandelions to Guinea Pigs
You can forage for dandelions for your guinea pigs. It is not only fun but also saves you a lot of money. More so your guinea pig would love you for bringing him some dandelions. However, while collecting dandelions, you should avoid the ones that are growing on roadsides or other places where there are chances of them being sprayed with chemicals. Also, avoid the spots where some dog might have relieved themselves.
If you have dandelions growing in your garden, you should not pull out the whole plant to feed to your guinea pig. Instead, you should pluck out only the leaves and flowers, leaving behind the root and stem in place; more dandelion leaves and flowers will grow from this, giving you a constant supply of dandelions for your guinea pig. You can give one or two leaves of dandelions to your guinea pig, twice or thrice a week.
|How to Give Dandelions to Guinea Pigs? |
· Make sure dandelions are fresh
· Wash them thoroughly to get rid of potential insecticides and pesticides
· If it is the first time your guinea pig is eating dandelions, you should share a tiny amount and observe if he shows any signs of sickness for at least 24 hours
· If your guinea pigs do not like dandelions or develop some digestive issues, you should stop feeding it
· If dandelions seem to sit well with your guinea pig’s stomach, you should keep giving him dandelions in small amounts and gradually increase the amount to two leaves.
Final Verdict: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dandelions?
Guinea pigs can eat dandelion—they can eat its leaves, as well as bright yellow flowers and stems. Dandelions make a healthy snack for guinea pigs, provided it is being fed in moderation. If consumed in excess, the high calcium in could cause urinary problems in guinea pigs and fibers could lead to loose stool in guinea pigs.
Check out other guides to what guinea pigs can or cannot eat: