Like many other pet owners around the globe, we have often wondered, “can guinea pigs eat avocado?” After all, these cute small rodents are… Well, rodents and this family is not exactly well known for their love for tropical fruit.
We are here to break some good news – small guinea pigs can safely consume avocado. But not all of it and not all the time. For instance, the outside layer of this fruit is considered highly poisonous, and feeding it to your pets is more than dangerous. Daily servings of avocado can prove to be just as harmful.
But why is it so, and why would you even want to feed this plant to your cutesy pets? Scroll down and find out.
The Essentials Of Guinea Pig Nutrition
We’ll start this short discussion with the feeding habits of guinea pigs since this is, after all, the biggest concern every responsible pet owner should have.
So, as we already mentioned in the introduction, the guinea pig is a tailless South American rodent from the cavy family. What’s interesting about this species is that the first time it was domesticated by humans around 5000 BCE, it was to be raised for food (yeah, pretty grim).
These days, the wild cousins of this cute species are all but gone, and guinea pigs exist almost exclusively as pets in millions of homes worldwide.
But, if we had an opportunity to take a look at what this imaginary wild guinea pig would look for food if left in nature, we would see that these cute South American rodents usually prefer to consume tons of grasses, plants, vegetables, and crops.
One of the big reasons behind their proverbial voraciousness is because, much like human beings, guinea pigs need high amounts of Vitamin C to survive, and their natural food sources are not quite Vitamin C bombs you would expect. So basically, they go for quantity instead of quality.
Some of the most popular mentions on the average guinea pig menus are:
All of them are very light, healthy, and nutritious choices.
As for the things considered off the table for guinea pigs, the list is pretty long and includes the likes of onions, garlic, mushrooms, iceberg lettuce, rhubarb, potatoes, dairy products, and chocolate (or any other food that contains high levels of caffeine).
The problem with the foods we have listed above contain excessive levels of fat, sugar, or acidic content, all of which can prove to be fatal for guinea pigs if consumed frequently.
Why Would You Want To Feed Avocado To Your Guinea Pig Anyway?
Now that we’ve seen what foods are considered preferable in the guinea pig world and why, let’s see what we can learn about avocado.
Well, this South American fruit (archeologists claim it was first domesticated in Peru) has a sort of rock status when it comes to present-day healthy nutrition trends. To put it simply, the fruit is stacked with beneficial nutrients like:
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B-6
Due to its unique fatty content (more of it in a moment), avocado makes a top pick for people who are trying to lose some weight. Extremely healthy and beneficial nutritional content comes at a cherry on the top of this yummy tropical cake.
With all this in mind, it shouldn’t be too big of a surprise that avocado is well-praised for a couple of pretty awesome health benefits:
- Avocado can improve overall heart health
- Avocado can improve vision
- Avocado is improving bone health
- Avocado promotes healthy digestion
When all things are said and done, a better question would be, why wouldn’t you want to feed this South American fruit to your South American pet? Especially considering avocado makes a very solid source of Vitamin C which makes the pillar of guinea pigs’ nutrition.
Well, now is a good time to circle back to avocado’s fat content.
Guinea Pigs And Fats Don’t Exactly Go Hand In Hand
One of the main reasons why avocado makes such a popular pick for all the people who are trying to drop some weight is because the fruit is absolutely laden with fat. As a matter of fact, fatty content makes up to 15% of each fruit you get on the table.
That is a lot.
As a reminder, the fatty acids we can find in avocado are beneficial dietary fats that offer excellent protection against inflammation, cancer, and diabetes. Here, we are dealing with the same oleic acid we can find in the equally beneficial olive oil.
The problem here is that guinea pigs have entirely different digestive systems from human beings.
Although you couldn’t guess from their looks (chubby little chumps), guinea pigs are extremely sensitive to fat content, even if we are talking about beneficial fatty acids like oleic acid.
Feeding them with something that contains such high levels of fats like avocado can cause digestion and intestinal problems to your pet. In some cases, guinea pigs are so unable to digest avocado pieces that they need to be removed through minor surgical interventions.
Furthermore, persin – an organic compound that can be found in stems, leaves, peel, and pit of avocado – is downright poisonous to these cute furry animals. Even cats and dogs, which are far larger animals have a tough time digesting these compounds, so avocado is often avoided in the feline and canine world.
Some of the most noticeable symptoms regarding persin poisoning (regardless of the species) are:
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach upset
- Digestive problems
So, why did we say the guinea pigs can consume avocado when it’s evident that, despite the similar place of origin, these two were never destined for each other?
How To Safely Feed Your Guinea Pig With Avocado?
The way out of this puzzle can be pretty much summed up to one word – moderation.
Yes, although guinea pigs and avocados are not precisely the match made in heaven, there is a way to leverage all the health benefits this fruit has to offer but only as long as you keep the safe distance between the servings and abide by some basic and simple rules.
How To Prepare Avocado For Your Guinea Pig?
In this regard, things are pretty straightforward. Avocado is usually served to guinea pigs raw, so you don’t need to worry about cooking or the preparation.
But, you need to be sure to clean the fruit as thoroughly as you can. As we said above, avocado leaves, peel, stem, and pit of avocado fruit contain high levels of persin, which is very poisonous for guinea pigs. Do your best to remove even the slightest traces of this toxin before feeding your pets.
How To Introduce Avocado To Your Guinea Pig’s Diet?
Keeping in mind that guinea pigs don’t share too much common ground in natural circumstances, your pet may avoid this nutritious fruit when you start serving it.
So, you will probably have to put some work into adjusting your pets to the new diet. We suggest that you start with tiny slices no bigger than your pinky nail. If the pet refuses to eat the fresh fruit, you can serve it before the rest of the meal when the guinea pig is still hungry and less picky.
When the pet finally eats the avocado slice, you should stop serving the fruit for at least a month and see how the animal reacts to it.
Essentially, such a small dose shouldn’t be a problem even for guinea pigs’ sensitive digestive systems, but your pet can still experience digestion and intestinal issues. Be very vigilant during this period and take your furry friend to the vet at the first sign of the problem.
How Often To Feed Your Guinea Pig With Avocado?
If your small guinea pig goes well through this initial exposure to avocado, you are safe to put it into food rotation. But, keep in mind that, in spite of the health benefits, this fruit can be harmful to your pet, so you shouldn’t feed the animal with it too often.
We say, twice a month makes a reasonable pace even more sensitive guinea pigs can keep up with. But, if you want to be absolutely sure, you should keep the frequency of avocado serving at once a month.
How Many Avocados You Should Give To Your Guinea Pig?
Aside from the frequency, the size of servings makes another critical thing you should pay attention to when feeding your guinea pig pets with avocado. As we established, high amounts of fat in the fruit can cause your furry friend some severe digestion problems.
That is why you should feed the animal with no more than 1/3 of a regular avocado slice.
Does Avocado Have Some Safer Alternatives?
The answer is sure. It is highly possible that your pet will reject the initial serving of avocado or that even the slightest slice will cause the animal some sort of digestive problem. In that case, you should move to some of the popular alternatives that pack similar nutritional content as avocado:
We hope you found this short breakdown informative and useful. Guinea pigs are loveable pets, but they do have very sensitive digestive systems. That means you have to be very careful about what you are feeding them with.
Packing some incredibly healthy nutrients, avocado can make their diet but only in small doses and no more than twice a month.