Guinea pigs cannot eat dairy products, meat, chocolate, and many other things we find delicious, but can guinea pigs eat bread, one of the most common foods found in almost every home?
Guinea pigs shouldn’t eat bread, not even as a rare treat because it is processed food that this small animal cannot digest well. Although there are many different types of bread, such as whole-wheat bread and brown bread, none of them are considered safe for guinea pigs as it does not provide nutrition to these small animals.
However, you’ll often see claims such as that you can feed guinea pigs with banana bread, bread crust, or bread-related products such as bread crust, bread toast, and bread sticks, albeit occasionally and in very small amounts.
Bread comes in many varieties, and the great thing about it is that it can be so delicious and consistent when combined with other foods.
It’s a great base for a sandwich, but can it also be given to these tiny small animals, guinea pigs?
Let’s see why this is a really bad idea.
Why Is Bread Bad For Guinea Pigs?
Whether guinea pigs will perceive bread as a luxurious and very special treat is not something that should worry every guinea pig owner.
What is worrying, though, is that bread is not healthy for guinea pigs and can even be hazardous.
Let’s explain it all in greater detail.
Diet and Nutrition of Guinea Pigs
The first thing we need to know about guinea pigs before we adopt them is that they are herbivorous small animals.
Furthermore, they engage in a practice known as cecotrophy.
This is the process of ingesting cecotropes, which are fecal pellets that still contain undigested food after passing through the digestive system.
Cecotrophy allows guinea pigs to absorb nutrients that would otherwise be lost as a result of digestion.
Although coprophagy (eating feces) is a sign of illness in many animals, it is a perfectly natural behavior in guinea pigs, other lagomorphs, and similar animals such as the paca.
Despite eating their own feces, guinea pigs have a sensitive digestive system.
It is relatively common for them to experience gastrointestinal issues.
Stress, abrupt dietary changes, ingestion of foreign objects, and hair accumulation can all cause digestive problems.
Another problem with guinea pig’s diet is their dentition.
The teeth of a guinea never stop growing throughout their life.
However, the food guinea pigs eat allows them to wear down their incisors and molars.
Gnawing on wood and other objects is also helpful in keeping a guinea pig’s teeth trimmed.
This is yet another reason why we must be cautious about the food we feed our guinea pigs.
What Is a Healthy Guinea Pig Diet?
We know that guinea pigs require a never-ending supply of low-calcium hay.
We also know that guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C, so it must be a part of their daily well-balanced diet.
The 30 mg/kg of vitamin C they require per day can be obtained through a diet or by supplementation.
There are conflicting reports on whether to feed fruit to guinea pigs.
Some guinea pig owners argue that guinea pigs need fruits, although in moderation.
Others argue that fruits are bad for guinea pigs because of high sugar levels.
On the other hand, everyone agrees that leafy green vegetables are important for piggies because they also contain many important nutrients but also have lower sugar levels compared to fruits.
However, vegetables high in calcium are dangerous for these small animals and calcium contributes to bladder and kidney stones that can be deadly for them.
Guinea pigs easily develop gastrointestinal problems that manifest as bloating, appetite loss, or diarrhea, among other symptoms.
Overall, the sensitive digestive system of a guinea pig cannot digest processed foods, meat, dairy products, and commercial “healthy” treats that humans enjoy.
These small animals cannot drink anything but water.
So what do guinea pigs eat? Which food is safe for them?
Unlimited supply of low-calcium hay such as timothy hay, many types of vegetables and fruits (not all fruits and vegetables are safe for guinea pigs), and commercial guinea pig pellets fortified with vitamin C.
But let’s explain in greater detail can guinea pigs eat bread.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bread?
In their natural environment, guinea pigs will consume various types of vegetation.
While we provide hay and other food for them, their diet should be as close to that of the wild as possible.
An adequate diet should consist of approximately 70% fresh hay, 20% vegetables and fruit (with only a small portion of fruit), and 10% guinea pig pellets.
Therefore, as guinea pigs would never find bread in the wild and as bread is processed food meant for human consumption, they should never eat it.
- Bread is not healthy, but human beings easily digest it. Even for humans, too much bread leads to rapid weight gain.
- Numerous things can go wrong if you feed bread to your piggies (and this is true for any new food you want to introduce into your pet’s diet, not just bread).
- Bread contains no nutritional value, so it is best to keep your guinea pig away from it.
Should Guinea Pigs Eat Bread?
As we’ve stated, bread is processed food, so guinea pigs cannot digest it easily.
What guinea pigs need most is fiber and vitamin C.
They obtain enough fiber through hay but many other vitamins and minerals beneficial for these small animals come from raw fruits and vegetables, not from bread.
So, as guinea pigs need vitamin C but can only eat fruits in moderation, parsley, spinach, broccoli, yellow peppers, kale, and other leafy greens are permitted daily in their diet.
Finally, guinea pigs shouldn’t eat bread because it doesn’t have any nutritional value for them.
Let’s compare the nutritional value of banana bread that piggies shouldn’t eat and a raw banana that is safe for your pets in moderation.
Just look at those calories in one slice of bread vs. 100 gr of raw banana!
A raw banana contains more sugar and carbs compared to bread.
But if you compare the nutritional value of these two foodstuffs, you will clearly see why bread is simply bad for guinea pigs.
You know that vitamin A and vitamin C are important for a healthy guinea pig’s diet, which banana contains but bread doesn’t.
And take into account that a slice of bread contains fats and cholesterol, as well as sodium. These elements are equally harmful to us and to our guinea pigs.
By feeding guinea pigs bread, you’d be giving them food that can cause them more harm than good.
The nutritional value of other types of bread is not much different.
For example, a slice of whole-wheat bread contains 60 empty calories, 40 mg of calcium, and 150 mg of sodium. Things get even worse if you compare these nutrients with those in one slice of white bread.
A slice of white bread contains 100 calories and 230 mg of sodium.
Whatever you normally eat, you can see that bread actually belongs to the junk food category even for humans.
This is why when you think about changing your diet to a healthier one, you want to shift from white bread to other types of bread, such as brown bread.
Whole-wheat bread and brown bread are much healthier alternatives, with fewer calories, and fewer bad nutrients compared to white bread.
Yet, here we are talking about a healthy guinea pig diet and foods that are safe for these small animals.
But these numbers and serving sizes serve as a good starting point for you to realize that bread, bread crusts, and other bread products such as toast, and bread sticks are bad.
So can guinea pigs eat bread crust? Yes, you can feed them bread crust but you really shouldn’t.
Can guinea pigs eat bread sticks? Once again, we have to say that guinea pigs can eat bread sticks but they really shouldn’t.
All bread products have a detrimental effect on guinea pigs health.
What Happens When Guinea Pigs Eat Bread?
Bread consumption leads to obesity or extreme weight gain, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases.
Because bread is high in calcium, eating too much of it will cause digestive tract issues and bladder stones.
When calcium binds with oxalis, it forms small crystals or stones inside the guinea pig’s body.
Many plants contain oxalates and plants are essentially what your guinea pig should eat.
As a result, guinea pigs will certainly consume oxalates and calcium, which creates the danger of kidney and bladder stones.
Kidney or bladder stones are extremely painful for guinea pigs, with symptoms such as weight loss, urination pain, appetite loss, and bloody urine.
This is also the reason why salt (sodium) is dangerous for piggies.
Calcium and phosphorus imbalance can also cause serious bladder problems.
Extra minerals combined with the risk of dehydration from salt create a risk of bladder sludge or stones in your guinea piggy’s body.
What Are Other Bread-Related Hazards?
Another very good reason why you shouldn’t attempt to feed your guinea pig with bread is that guinea pigs have a proclivity to develop preferences for certain foods from a young age.
If a guinea pig develops a taste for bread, it may interfere with its ability to eat what it should.
This can cause them to focus their energy on consuming a limited variety of foods, even though we provide a varied selection in their diet.
As a result, your piggy may have an unbalanced diet, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies and a variety of health issues.
Guinea pigs are sensitive to changes in their routine.
They may refuse to eat their regular food if we prepare it differently or change the brand.
One way to help combat this is to provide a variety of foodstuffs from the beginning of their lives and gradually implement any dietary changes.
There are two other very important reasons why guinea pigs who eat bread are in danger:
- If the bread is soft, it can get stuck in the guinea pig’s mouth and cause choking.
- Feeding guinea pigs bread will cause your pet to become bloated (which is a very bad thing that can turn into a life-threatening condition).
What Should Guinea Pigs Eat?
Whatever we feed our guinea pigs, they must have a constant supply of fresh hay.
Apart from hey, raw fruits and veggies are important for a healthy diet of a guinea pig.
Whenever you feed your guinea pigs with their daily portion of fresh and raw fruits and veggies, make sure to thoroughly wash them just in case there are any residues of pesticides or dirt.
It’s also important to consider how frequently you feed your guinea pig certain foods.
You can serve celery, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots a couple of times per month.
Provide them chard, artichoke, broccoli, spinach, cucumber, lettuce, or fruit once a week.
On the other hand, you can serve them daily foods like bell peppers, cauliflower, endive, cabbage, and arugula.
While some people let their guinea pigs eat bread sometimes, especially banana bread and brown bread, we are strongly against such practices.
Don’t feed bread to your pets, as many things can go wrong if you give your guinea pigs bread.
Your pet won’t be getting any nutrition from it and can choke on it.
Besides, piggies can suffer from digestive tract issues that can complicate and become life-threatening.
No wonder the only acceptable food for guinea pigs includes hay, fresh fruits, and raw vegetables.
So, it’s entirely up to you whether you’ll feed your guinea pig bread.
Just consider all of the advantages and disadvantages, as you’re already warned about the dangers mentioned above.