Guinea pigs are an absolute joy to share your home and your life with. They are small but sociable furry friends and there are a very wide variety of breeds, coat lengths and colors. Typically, they live for five or six years but it can be longer.
These adorable little creatures are a traditional first pet for children and they are fairly straightforward to look after. However, they do require the correct care and attention and that includes giving them the right things to eat. Guinea pigs love fruit and vegetables but many new owners are concerned about particular items and worry about how much fruit their pet should have. Here we answer all your queries about whether guinea pigs can eat apples.
Are Apples Safe to Feed to Guinea Pigs
The staple diet of guinea pigs is grass or hay. This is their natural diet and this should be the main food that you give them. In addition, guinea pigs thrive on eating fresh produce and apples are perfectly safe for them to eat as part of a varied and balanced diet. They should, however, be used in moderation and you should not overdo it! Use them as a delicious treat.
Apples contain a lot of healthy nutrients that will help your furry little friend to thrive. They have a lot of vitamins including vitamin C which is required by guinea pigs to keep them healthy. Apples also contain plenty of fiber which is great for a guinea pig’s digestion.
They are also relatively inexpensive and readily available – you are very likely to have them in your home for your own consumption. Believe it or not, 81 million metric tons of apples are consumed across the globe each year!
Guinea pigs are usually quite good at moderating their food intake and do not normally take in too many calories. However, apples contain far more sugar than other regular guinea pig food such as hay or grass. Therefore, if they eat a lot of apples, they run the risk of consuming too many calories. This could lead to weight gain and to your guinea pig becoming obese. As is the case for other animals, obesity can lead to health issues such as diabetes, grooming difficulties and cardio-vascular problems.
How to Feed Apples to Your Guinea Pig
Apples are a great treat for guinea pigs if you offer them three or four times a week. Don’t feed them to your guinea pig any more frequently than this. You should not give them to baby guinea pigs who are less than six weeks old. Once the babies have been weaned onto a pellet diet, you can start to introduce apples but only infrequently and in very small amounts.
To feed apples to your guinea pig, cut them into small chunks – quarter of an apple is fine. They will nibble at it as they wish. Do not put a whole apple in the cage, they may choke on it. Also, it is important that you remove the pips. Apple seeds contain a very small quantity of cyanide and this can be dangerous for small pets if it accumulates in their body. You don’t need to worry unduly if you notice that you have failed to remove just one or two seeds as they will not do any harm. However, this is not something that should happen regularly. It is perfectly safe for them to eat the apple core as long as the pips have been removed.
Do not peel the apples because the apple peel contains most of the fiber and this is good for guinea pigs’ digestion. If you have your own apple tree, you can feed your guinea pig apple leaves. They are very high in calcium and are very healthy for guinea pigs. You can even put a whole small branch in their hutch and see what they think of it! They will probably gobble up the leaves and strip the bark. This will also help to trim their teeth.
You can feed the apple on its own or add it to other fruit and vegetables to make up a delicious ‘salad’ for your little pet. You can feed them dried apple slices as a treat but be careful because the sugar concentration of these is very high.
What Types of Apples Can Guinea Pigs Eat
There are more than 2,500 apple varieties but the most common are Golden Delicious, Gala and Red Delicious and guinea pigs love all of these! However, some varieties are not suitable for guinea pigs at all. Unripe apples or varieties that are sour are usually green in color and these should not be used. They will have a high acid content and this can cause mouth irritation and stomach discomfort. Choose a nice sweet apple that has a mellow taste.
You should not feed rotten apples to your guinea pigs. They will probably turn their noses up at them but if they do eat them it can cause stomach upsets so don’t risk it.
Can Feeding Apples to Guinea Pigs Cause Problems
It is possible for your Guinea Pig to eat too much apple and this can cause some problems. They may become a little bloated and they may even get a short episode of diarrhea. If this happens, stop feeding them apple for a while. Take away any apple that is left in the cage and feed them only hay-based pellets for a few days. Also, make sure that they have plenty of fresh water to drink. If the problem has not resolved in a few days, take them to your vet for further advice.
Once they have recovered, you can reintroduce the apple but only offer it once a week. If that solves the problem, you could try increasing it to twice a week.
There are plenty of alternatives that you can use if apples do not seem to agree with your little pet. You could try tomatoes, bananas and grapes but these should also only be given in very small quantities.