Cereals make a popular choice for breakfast across the world, but they are sugary and a bit unhealthy. So, many people prefer having oats –oatmeal—for breakfast. Oats are loaded with useful nutrients and make a nutritious and healthy meal for humans. But what about guinea pigs? Can guinea pigs eat oats?
If you are a guinea pig owner and have been thinking about pouring some oats in your guinea pig’s bowl for the breakfast, continue reading. In this article, we are going to discuss all about guinea pigs and oats.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oats?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat oats.
But know that caloric dense and high in carbs, oats are very fattening for guinea pigs and are only reserved for ill and underweight guinea pigs that need to put on some weight. Even when support-feeding oats, you should not overdo it. You don’t want to fill out tiny guinea pig stomachs with oats so that guinea pigs have little to no hunger for hay or grass. Guinea pigs need to eat hay to keep their always-growing teeth in check.
Continue reading to learn all about oats and guinea pigs. What health benefits do oats has to offer to guinea pigs and what risks to consider while feeding oats to guinea pigs.
First, let’s take a look at the nutrient profile of oats.
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Health Benefits of Oats for Guinea Pigs
Oats are nutrient-dense and have a host of health benefits to offer to humans but our guinea pigs could enjoy very little of these benefits. Below we have discussed some of the nutritional benefits of oats for guinea pigs.
1. Dense Nutrients in Oats Support Healthy Weight Gain in Weak Guinea Pigs
Caloric dense and loaded with carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, oats make a fattening snack for guinea pigs. While guinea pig owners are advised not to feed oats to their healthy guinea pigs, vets often recommend oats or oatmeal for unhealthy and underweight guinea pigs that need to put on some weight. The dense nutrient content of oats would support a rapid weight gain in your weak guinea pigs.
2. Oats Promote Thicker And Shinier Coat
Besides sick and underweight guinea pigs, the vet also recommends oats for guinea pigs experiencing hair loss or skin issues. Oats help guinea pigs with hair loss issues and dry skin. So, if your guinea pig has dry skin or is experiencing hair loss, you may want to sprinkle a pinch of quacker oats on guinea pig pellets for shinier coats and soft, smooth skin.
3. Iron in Oats Keep Anemia at Bay
100 grams of oats contain 4.25mg of iron. This iron will support healthy red blood cell production in guinea pigs, keeping blood diseases like anemia at bay. Iron is crucial for the composition of hemoglobin, an important protein in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is responsible for the transport of oxygen to all tissues and organs of the guinea pig body and then carrying carbon dioxide from orangs and tissues to the lungs. A lower hemoglobin count would mean red blood cells are deficient (anemia) in the guinea pig.
You can also feed spinach and sunflower seeds to your anemic guinea pig. But you should keep in mind that spinach is high in oxalates, which can cause bladder stones in guinea pigs. so, feed it in moderate amounts only.
4. Potassium in Oats Help Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure
Oats are laden with potassium, which help in the maintenance of blood pressure, bone health, and muscle strength. 100 grams serving of oats contain 362mg of potassium, as mentioned in the above nutritional profile of oats. So, by munching on quacker oats your weak guinea pig could strengthen its muscle as well as bones. 100 grams of oats also contain around 52mg of calcium, which is also great for the development of strong bones.
5. Magnesium in Oats Promote Muscular Health
Guinea pigs are active little creatureS. They rarely close their eyes—they even sleep with their eyes open and blink their eyes rarely. Guinea pigs only blink their eyes when it is absolutely necessary. Being active all the time, guinea pigs’ muscles get sore and begins to ache or tired. Magnesium in oats reduces body aches and also promotes better cardiac health.
6. Thiamin in Oats Helps Convert Carbs Into Energy
A hundred grams of oats contain 0.46mg of thiamin, which is also known as vitamin B1. It helps turn carbs into energy. Thiamin help breaks down the carbs in oats into energy and fuel round-the-clock guinea pig activities. It also helps promote better cardiac, muscular, and nervous health.
Health Risks of Oats for Guinea Pigs
While oats are often recommended for sick and weak guinea pigs who are underweight, they are not recommended for healthy guinea pigs. Brimming with calories, oats pose a huge risk of obesity in guinea pigs. Besides that, phosphorus and calcium in oats make guinea pigs susceptible to bladder stones.
Below we expand on these factors that make oats bad for guinea pigs:
a) High Calories And Carbs Pose a High Risk of Obesity
As mentioned earlier, oats are laden with calories and brimming with carbs. They also contain a considerable amount of fats and proteins. This richness of nutrients in oats is what makes them unhealthy for guinea pigs. Unless a guinea pig is underweight, eating oats would lead to rapid weight gain, leading to obesity.
While a chubby guinea pig may look cute and all, it would lead to many other health issues, ranging from joint to cardiac health. So, unless a vet has recommended it, you should never feed oats to your otherwise healthy guinea pig.
If your guinea pig seems to be disinterested in food and appears to be losing weight, you can consult your veterinarians and start sprinkling a pinch of oats on guinea pig pellets of hay to encourage eating.
b) Calcium And Phosphorus Could Cause Urinary Problems in Guinea Pigs
Though calcium and phosphorus both work to strengthen guinea pig bones, excess of them could lead to the formation of bladder and kidney stones in guinea pigs, causing urinary problems. It would lead to pain in urination, blood in guinea pig urine, and urinary tract infections in guinea pigs. So, only restrict oats for young and growing guinea pigs to support healthy growth and bones and muscle development, after consulting with your veterinarian. Once your guinea pig has fully grown and is healthy, you should stop feeding oats.
c) Too Much Fibers Could Lead to Loose Stool in Guinea Pigs
Though fibers are crucial for the gastrointestinal health and proper digestion of food in guinea pigs. Its excess could lead to loose stool and diarrhea in guinea pigs.
What Happens If Guinea Pigs Eat Too Many Oats?
Oats should never be fed to guinea pigs more than half-handful, once or twice a week. Overconsumption of oats may upset your guinea pig’s stomach and lead to diarrhea and loose stool. Besides that, the excessive calories in oats would make your guinea pig rapidly gain weight and become obese. Oats also contain phosphorus and calcium, which would cause urinary problems in guinea pigs.
Which Oats to Feed Guinea Pigs?
Processed foods do not sit well with their stomachs. So, the instant variety, quick-cooking oats, or oat cereals that you use for quick breakfast are not good for guinea pigs. Instead, you should feed plain, traditional rolled oats to your guinea pig. To avoid the risk of choking, it would be best if you offered oatmeal to your guinea pigs instead of dry oats.
As a rule of thumb, you should feed those oats that are soft and a bit flakey, unprocessed, and unsweetened.
How Much And How Often to Feed Oats to Guinea Pigs?
Oats are nutrient-dense and thus you should only feed to support weak and sick guinea pigs that need to put on some weight. To such underweight guinea pigs, you can offer one-fourth of a bowl or a half-handful of oats two or three times a week. As far as healthy guinea pigs are concerned, you should never offer them oats. If they are crazy about oats and you want to treat them, you can sprinkle a pinch of oats on their hay or pellets, every once in a while.
While feeding oats to your guinea pigs, you have to be conscious of the weight gain. You don’t want your guinea pig to become obese. Besides that, you should also look for changes in guinea pig poop color or consistency. The high fiber content of oats could cause diarrhea in guinea pigs.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oat Biscuits?
No, guinea pigs cannot eat oat biscuits. To begin with, processed food simply does not sit well with guinea pig stomachs. Like oats, oat biscuits would pose a risk of obesity, urinary problems, and digestive issues in guinea pigs.
That said, you do not need to worry much if your guinea pig is to steal a nibble or two of an oat cookie, he will be alright. But purposely feeding oat biscuits to guinea pigs is never a good idea.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oatmeal?
Neither oat nor oatmeal is good for guinea pigs. Loaded with calories, and high in phosphorus and calcium, it poses a risk of obesity and urinary problems in guinea pigs. So, you should never offer oats or oatmeal to your healthy guinea pigs. However, if you have a sick or underweight guinea pig, you can feed him oats and oatmeal to fatten him up. In such a case, oatmeal would be a better choice than simple dry oats.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oat Hay?
While you can feed oat hay to your guinea pigs once in a while. It is highly nutritious like oats and could pose a risk of obesity, and urinary issues in guinea pigs. However, to your sick and weak guinea pigs, you can offer oaten hay, after discussing it with your veterinarian. Oat hay would help them rapidly gain weight. If your guinea pigs seem to be disinterested in their usual hay—timothy hay—you can try mixing a bit of oat hay in it.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oat Flour?
No, guinea pigs cannot eat oat flour. It contains the same ingredients as the quaker oats or oats flakes. So, eating oat flour would put guinea pigs at risk of weight gain, bladder and kidney stones, and gastrointestinal health issues.
Final Verdict: Can Guinea Pigs Have Oats?
No! Guinea pigs cannot eat oats. They are caloric-rich and highly nutritious and would lead to rapid weight gain in guinea pigs. Vets only recommend oats for weak or underweight guinea pigs that need to gain some weight. Even when support-feeding oats, you should never feed more than half-handful once or twice a week. Excessive consumption would lead to obesity, stomach upset, and urinary problems in guinea pigs.
Check out other guides to what guinea pigs can or cannot eat: