As a kid, most of us hated spinach (I know me and my siblings did) until they started premiering the Popeye the Sailor Man cartoons. Spinach was presented as a superfood in this cartoon show. Popeye used to become invincible after eating a cane of spinach—he used to beat the heck out of Bluto: save olive Oyl and win her heart.
“I’m strong to the finich, ’cause I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye, the sailor man!”
Not only my siblings and me but quite a lot of Americans started eating spinach as the cartoons gained popularity across America. With the show gaining popularity, the sale of spinach went up around 33 percent in the United States. It was the show and the nutrient profile of spinach that made it a popular leafy green in America. But is it popular among our piglets as well? Can guinea pigs eat spinach? Is spinach good for guinea pigs, or is it bad?
Guinea Pig and Spinach
Guinea pigs are natural herbivores. They must eat plant-based foods to meet their nutritional requirements.
Reading guinea pigs are natural herbivores, you must be thinking that spinach and other leafy greens must be perfect for guinea pigs. Well, no doubt guinea pigs are herbivores, and most of the leafy greens are fine for them to snack on, but few are not. There are many human foods that are perfectly safe and healthy for humans but are not good for our fur babies. Therefore, before giving any human food, be it some fruit or vegetable, you must first make sure that it is safe for our guinea pigs to eat. So if it is spinach that you want to feed your guinea pig, you should know for sure, “can guinea pigs have spinach or not.”
|Better to err on the side of caution! |
Whenever in doubt about the safety of some human food—fruit or vegetable—for guinea pigs, you should assume that it is probably bad for them and look for safer and healthier alternatives. It is better to guiltily deny your guinea pig some food when in doubt about its safety for guinea pigs than to share the food and jeopardize your fur baby’s health. You do not want that!
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat spinach in moderate amounts and benefit from useful nutrients like calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin A, etc. However, you should note that spinach is also high in oxalic acid, which could lead to the formation of bladder and kidney stones in guinea pigs.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Spinach?
Guinea pigs love munching on the fresh green leaves of spinach. If it were up to them, they would love to have unlimited access to spinach leaves, but as a responsible guinea pig owner, you cannot give them more than two to three lives twice a week. No doubt, spinach leaves are packed with vital nutrients; they should be fed to guinea pigs in moderation because of the high oxalic acid, which increases the risk of kidney and bladder stones in guinea pigs.
Is Spinach Good for Guinea Pigs?
Spinach is considered one of the superfoods for humans but does it holds the same health benefits for our piglets. Below, we take a quick look at the nutrient profile of spinach, according to USDA. We have listed some of the most important nutrients in 100g of spinach leaves.
|Nutrients||Amount per 100g) spinach|
From the above nutrient profile of spinach, it seems like spinach would be good for guinea pigs to snack on, but it should not be a part of the integral diet of the routine guinea pig diet. Here are a few things that make munching on spinach healthy for piglets.
1. Low in calories
Despite being loaded with useful minerals like iron, potassium, and calcium, spinach leaves also contain various vitamins like vitamin A, B6, B2, C, E, and K; spinach leaves are very low in calories. The low calories in spinach make it a great snack for a fat guinea pig who needs a little bit of weight management.
2. High Fiber Content
Spinach has to offer loads of fibrous content—around 2.2 grams per 100 grams of spinach leaves. These dietary fibers help with the smooth and effective functioning of the digestive system. It not only helps the gut bacteria digest food also but adequately supports smooth bowel movements.
|Fiber is a critical for guinea pigs! |
Guinea pigs need a certain amount of fibers in their routine diet for the smooth functioning of their digestive system. While leafy greens like spinach and other veggies can also provide some level of fibers to guinea pigs, hay is the best resource.
3. Vitamin C
Like humans, guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C and thus require it from an external resource. If they don’t get ample vitamin C in their diet, they will develop scurvy, which can lead to skin and bone problems and can also lead to blood clotting issues.
Fortunately, veggies like spinach contain a good amount of vitamin C—28.1mg per 100 grams. But you should know that this is not enough, and you will have to provide vitamin C pellets and supplements to your guinea pig.
Bell peppers are even a better vitamin C resource than spinach. They contain even more vitamin C than oranges.
Is Spinach Bad For Guinea Pigs?
The unholy trio of oxalates, calcium, and phosphorus makes spinach a risky snack for guinea pigs. It increases the chances of kidney and bladder stones. What actually happens is that guinea pigs need only a little calcium and phosphorus, so when they eat spinach in excess, there is an excess of these minerals in their digestive system. As guinea pig body can only absorb so much of it, the rest of it settles down in their kidney or bladder, where it binds with other minerals, making calcium oxalate crystals. If left untreated, these stones can even cause kidney failure in piggies.
How Much Spinach Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
As most guinea pigs like nibbling on leafy greens, many guinea pig owners assume that it would be a good idea to offer their piglets a few leaves of spinach every other day but know that it is not a good idea. While your piglets might look healthy and enjoy spinach every day, it is not healthy in the long run as it will lead to the formation of kidney or bladder stones. Therefore, never offer more than two to three leaves of spinach to your guinea pig more than two to three times a week.
If your guinea pig has urinary tract issues, you should try to avoid spinach altogether.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Baby Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs eat baby spinach. In fact, it is actually far better for our piglet than the regular spinach. It has comparatively lower calcium and oxalic acid but higher fibrous content. That said, baby spinach should also never be fed more than twice a week.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Frozen Spinach?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat frozen spinach, but it must be defrosted before serving. The consumption of col food could upset the sensitive guinea pig stomach and leads to diarrhea. So always defrost and wait for the frozen food to come at room temperature before offering it to your piglet. It is best that you only offer fresh veggies to piggies.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Spinach?
No! You should never offer cooked spinach to guinea pigs. Guinea pig digestive systems are just not designed to process any cooked food. So, ingestion of cooked spinach may upset the guinea pig’s digestive system.
What If Your Guinea Pig Has Eaten Too Much Spinach?
It depends on the level of damage that has occurred. In most cases, putting guinea pigs on a low calcium diet helps lower the calcium level and make your piglet feel better again. But if the damage has been done and a bladder or kidney stone is formed, you might have to take your piggy friend to a veterinarian who is comfortable treating guinea pigs.
How to Offer Spinach To Guinea Pigs?
Here is how to prepare spinach for your guinea pigs:
- Get two leaves of fresh and ripe spinach leaves
- Wash them thoroughly to get rid of any pesticides or dirt on them
- Get rid of the stalk as it is unpleasant for guinea pigs
- Chop down the leaves into small pieces and put them in a bowl for your guinea pig to eat
- When your piggy is done eating, remove any residual spinach from the cage
- Check if your piggy has hidden any spinach.
Check out other guides to what guinea pigs can or cannot eat: