Can guinea pigs eat cucumbers? Can guinea pigs eat cucumber peels?
Are there any health benefits to feeding your tiny guinea pig this yummy vegetable?
We’ll tell you all you need to know about guinea pigs and cucumbers. Continue reading to learn all about it!
If you’ve ever owned a guinea pig, you know that they are constantly eating – pellets, grass hay, greens, and the occasional fruit.
Sometimes, it seems like these little creatures are just made to eat!
With this insatiable appetite, however, comes the responsibility to feed your guinea pig the correct foods.
Guinea pigs, if offered, will eat nearly anything. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that they should!
Most guinea pig owners know that water, hay, and pellets should be the primary food source for their little piggie.
Still, it is very tempting to offer your furry friend a few treats of veggies and fruits!
But are all veggies okay to give to your pet? What about cucumbers specifically? Let’s look at the nutritional facts about the cucumber.
Facts About Cucumbers
Cucumbers were one of the earliest cultivated vegetables. Originating from India, there are actually many different varieties of cucumbers.
The one consumed most commonly today is the Cucumis sativus.
Over half of today’s cucumbers are grown in China, with small amounts grown in Turkey and Russia. Very few cucumbers are actually produced in the USA.
Cucumbers are about 97% water. This means they do not contain a very high density of nutrients. However, at the same time, they are very low in fat, sodium, and calories. Half a cup of sliced cucumbers is only eight calories!
Despite their low nutrient density, cucumbers are still a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Potassium.
They also contain small amounts of Vitamin A, fiber, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese, just to name a few important nutrients!
But what does all of this mean for guinea pigs? Can guinea pigs eat cucumbers safely?
Should they be given veggies at all?
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Vegetables?
While the bulk of a guinea pig’s diet should consist of hay, pellets, and water, it is pretty common for owners to provide them with treats of various kinds!
Just like people, guinea pigs can grow tired of eating the same thing day in and day out. Therefore, providing them with some sort of treat can be a nice way to mix things up!
However, it is still important to ensure that your guinea pig is eating a healthy diet.
There are a variety of commercial treats marketed for guinea pigs. But these are usually loaded with artificial sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup, fructose or sucrose.
Furthermore, they provide very little nutritional value!
If commercial treats are a no-go, then what treats should you give your guinea pig? Why, many of the same healthy fruits and veggies that you would eat, of course!
As you would expect, some veggies and fruits are better than others, so what about cucumbers specifically?
Can guinea pigs eat cucumbers and gain nutritional benefits?
What Vitamins Do Guinea Pigs Need?
As we have seen, cucumbers are a source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Potassium.
However, are these vitamins necessary for guinea pigs? What happens if a guinea pig does not consume enough of these vitamins?
Vitamin C is actually one of the most important vitamins a guinea pig needs. Just like people, guinea pigs cannot create this vitamin on their own, and therefore need to obtain it from an outside source.
If guinea pigs do not regularly consume Vitamin C, it can quickly lead to a health condition called scurvy! This is the same disease that sailors on long voyages used to get when they did not eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables.
Symptoms of scurvy include a lack of energy, slow wound healing, loss of appetite, weight loss, and diarrhea.
Furthermore, if the guinea pig also has other deficiencies, more serious symptoms can occur, such as skeletal muscle death. Sadly, if this condition is left untreated, it is often deadly.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your guinea pigs, it is important to take them to the vet right away. Your vet can recommend and prescribe dietary changes to remove the deficiency.
Can Guinea Pigs Have Cucumbers?
Cucumbers, being mostly water, are not the best snack you can provide for your guinea pig.
They do contain some Vitamin C. However, their vitamin content is very low when you compare cucumbers to other vegetables, like kale and spinach.
Still, cucumbers can be helpful in increasing your guinea pig’s water intake, especially on a hot day! Nevertheless, cucumbers should only be an occasional treat offered on a hot day or when your guinea pig has been particularly active!
Instead of cucumbers, the bulk of your guinea pig’s supplemental food calories should come from treats of leafy greens, which are a particularly good source of Vitamin C.
Excessive consumption of cucumbers can also cause diarrhea and vomiting due to their large water content. Eating too much can make your little friend feel bloated, which can cause digestive problems and stomach upset
How to Give Guinea Pigs Cucumbers
If you decide to give your guinea pigs a cucumber treat, whether it is on a hot day or because they have been very active, there are a number of things you should do to ensure that they consume them safely.
Firstly, always make sure that the cucumbers you buy are pesticide-free. Pesticides can cause many issues for your chubby pet if they consume too much. Pet nutrition experts recommend feeding your guinea pig organic fruits and vegetables.
If you cannot buy organic cucumbers, make sure that you wash them thoroughly before giving them to your pet.
If you want to be extra careful, you can peel off the skin and only give your piggie the light green inside and seeds. However, the peel does contain the most nutrients, and guinea pigs tend to like the peel the best!
Guinea pigs can eat every part of the cucumber, including the peel and seeds, as long as it is pesticide-free or thoroughly washed. Chop the cucumber into little pieces before giving them to your furry friend.
Because they are very watery and can cause digestive issues if not eaten in moderation, it is suggested not to give your guinea pig more than a slice or two a couple times a week.
Furthermore, avoid giving your guinea pig all watery treats more than four times a week.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cucumbers?
Though cucumbers are not outright toxic for guinea pigs, they are not the best veggie you can provide as a treat.
Guinea pigs need lots of Vitamin C to fend off disease, particularly scurvy.
There are many more nutrient-dense veggies you could provide your guinea pig with other than cucumbers, such as leafy greens and squash.
However, cucumbers are okay to give to your guinea pig as a rare treat, especially on a hot day!
What are your guinea pig’s favorite treats? Do they like cucumbers? Tell us in the comments below!
References and Further Reading
- Renner, S.S., Schaefer, H., Kocyan, A. “Phylogenetics of Cucumis (Cucurbitaceae): Cucumber (C. sativus) Belongs in an Asian/Australian Clade Far from Melon (C. melo).” BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2007.
- “Cucumber, with Peel, Raw.” United States Department of Agriculture, National Nutrient Database.
- Hill, K.E., Motley, A.K., May, J.M., et al. “Combined Selenium and Vitamin C Deficiency Causes Cell Death in Guinea Pig Skeletal Muscle.” Nutrition Research, 2009.
- The Humane Society of the United States.