Can My Guinea Pig Eat Apples?
Here's what you need to know about apples and guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs make wonderful pets because they’re easy to care for and feed (not to mention, completely adorable).
As herbivores, guinea pigs should eat a balanced diet consisting of hay, fiber-rich guinea pig pellets and fresh vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C. But what about fruit? Can guinea pigs eat apples — and should they?
We spoke with Dr. Sara Ochoa, a small-animal veterinarian and consultant for DogLab, and Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian with Paramount Pet Health, to find out more about a guinea pig’s fruit intake.
Turns out (as with most foods), when it comes to guinea pigs and apples, the term “everything in moderation” applies.
Can guinea pigs eat apples safely? And if so, how much?
“Yes, your guinea pig can eat a small bite of an apple,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo. “However, it’s important to introduce new fruits and vegetables gradually to avoid stomach upset.”
Because fruit’s high in sugar, apples should be considered a treat that’s only offered once a day or a few days during the week. And according to Dr. Ochoa, portion size should be kept small.
As stomach upset is definitely possible with the introduction of any new food, if you notice anything unusual afterwards (like diarrhea or loose stools), reduce the new food and reintroduce slowly into your guinea pig’s diet in even smaller portions.
Are there any health benefits to guinea pigs eating apples?
Yes! There’s something to be said for the old proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
“Apples are packed full of vitamins and minerals, which are great for your guinea pig to have as an occasional treat,” Dr. Ochoa said.
“Even the peel of an apple is high in fiber, which is beneficial for a guinea pig’s intestinal health and digestion,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo.
Aside from the obvious health benefits, those vitamins are vitally important to a guinea pig’s diet for another reason altogether.
“Guinea pigs must eat vitamin C daily to prevent the development of scurvy,” Dr. Burch said. “Symptoms of scurvy in a guinea pig include poor appetite, swollen and painful joints, reluctance to move, inadequate bone and teeth development, and spontaneous bleeding.”
Scurvy is prevented by feeding your guinea pig a balanced diet rich in vitamin C (in addition to apples, fresh vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes and asparagus are great options).
What happens if a guinea pig eats too many apples?
Unfortunately, too many apple slices may cause your guinea pig to feel sick.
“Yes, feeding your guinea pig too many apples can cause your pet to have GI issues, such as diarrhea and tummy pain,” Dr. Ochoa said.
Luckily, there are no long-term effects to a guinea pig overindulging on apples. Dr. Burch said, “If a guinea pig eats too many apple pieces in one sitting, it may experience bloating and diarrhea. Symptoms should resolve in 24–48 hours, but if additional signs are seen or do not resolve, I recommend visiting your veterinarian.”
If apples are not fed in moderation, guinea pigs can gain weight and become obese. “Obese guinea pigs can have trouble grooming around their backend, stomach and back,” Dr. Burch said. “Lack of grooming can result in poor hair coat quality, which may result in an infection with a parasite called Cheyletiella.”
So, when considering your guinea pig’s diet (or becoming a guinea pig parent for the first time!), just remember that balance and moderation are key. And if you decide to try giving your guinea pig an apple and are in need of a little inspiration in the kitchen, check out our recipe for sushi that your guinea pig will love!