Can guinea pigs eat kale? In moderation, kale for guinea pigs can be a healthy snack.
It offers vital nutrients like fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. It’s also very low in fat and sugar.
A handful of kale each day can be great for cavies, but make sure to only feed your guinea pig kale as part of a balanced diet. These little pets need more than just kale to stay healthy.
Only ever feed fresh kale to your cavy, and make sure it is always washed first to remove any trace of harmful chemicals.
Is Kale Safe For Guinea Pigs?
A handful of washed, fresh kale provides a delicious, healthy source of vitamin C to your guinea pigs—as long as you don’t overdo it.
Kale is a dark, leafy green vegetable. It is part of the brassica family, along with broccoli, cabbage, and collard greens, and is often touted as a health superfood.
If you’ve ever wandered around a farmer’s market or a grocery store with a wide produce selection, you may have noticed that there are several different types of kale out there.
There are no real nutritional differences between the different varieties of kales. Some are reddish purple, some have curly leaves, and some Italian styles of kale look like a totally different plant, but kale is kale, as far as your guinea pig is concerned.
Fresh kale is healthy but must be washed before you give it to your guinea pig. Although the food itself is safe, the chemicals and pesticides used when growing it are not safe for cavies.
Let’s look at kale for guinea pigs in more detail.
Guinea Pigs and Kale
Guinea pigs are herbivores that naturally eat large amounts of fibrous vegetation. Although most owners feed their piggies a balanced diet of pellets or commercial food, veggie supplements can be great.
So, can guinea pigs have kale as one of these supplements?
Kale is full of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C. Kale is also a good source of fiber, and is very low in fat and sugar.
These qualities can make it a healthy choice for people and for guinea pigs too, as long as it is fed in moderation.
Leafy green vegetables like kale are an important part of your guinea pig’s diet. These vegetables provide your guinea pig with important nutrients like Vitamin C, along with variety in her diet.
Offering young guinea pigs a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables will ensure that they will have plenty of options throughout their lives.
Why do Guinea Pigs Like Kale?
It is important to start feeding your guinea pig kale and other new foods when they are young.
Guinea pigs can be picky eaters. Some develop preferences for certain foods at a young age.
If your older guinea pig is not interested in kale, this could be part of the reason.
But generally, most piggies will enjoy eating kale, especially if they are used to it from a young age. It offers them some interesting variety to pellets, and replicates the natural vegetation that wild cavies might choose to eat.
Is Kale Bad for Guinea Pigs?
Generally, kale is not bad for guinea pigs. But, feeding your guinea pig kale alone or mouldy, unwashed kale can be harmful.
Kale is good for guinea pigs, but it needs to be fed as part of a balanced diet. A diet composed entirely of kale is not good for your guinea pig, and can lead to nutrient imbalances and other health problems.
It is important to vary your cavy’s diet on a daily basis. Try feeding other leafy greens, like carrot tops or romaine lettuce, along with small amounts of fruits that contain vitamin C on a rotating basis in addition to kale.
This will help prevent any dangerous build-up of excess nutrients, and gives your guinea pig something to look forward to at meal-times.
Pocket pets like guinea pigs can be especially susceptible to potentially toxic substances due to their small size. So, it is important to wash any produce you feed to your guinea pigs before putting it in their habitat.
This helps remove harmful chemicals, and also gives you a chance to inspect the kale for freshness.
Feeding spoiled or moldy food to guinea pigs can lead to health problems. Even if your pigs do not ingest the food, leaving rotting food in your guinea pig’s cage can cause dangerous respiratory infections that could be fatal for your pet.
Clean out any uneaten kale daily to prevent mold and bacteria, and avoid feeding your guinea pigs cooked kale or kale with seasonings, oils, or dressings.
Is Kale Good For Guinea Pigs?
Kale is one of the vegetables commonly recommended by veterinarians to supplement your guinea pig’s diet.
There is a very good reason for this. Kale is high in vitamin C.
Like humans, guinea pigs are not able to store or make their own vitamin C. This means they need a daily dose of vitamin C to keep them healthy.
Store bought pellets contain vitamin C when they are milled, but these pellets lose their vitamin C content the longer they sit on the shelf.
Buying smaller amounts of pellets on a regular basis can help reduce this vitamin loss, but the easiest way to keep your guinea pigs full of vitamin C is to provide them with a fresh source at home.
Kale is not only full of vitamin C and fiber, it is also low in sugar. This gives it an advantage over certain other fruits and vegetables that are high in natural sugars, like carrots and oranges.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Kale Stems?
Kale stems are one of the vegetable items that gets frequently asked about on the internet.
When we’re cooking kale for ourselves, we tend to discard them because they’re tough and they don’t cook at the same rate at the leaves.
But nutritionally, those stems are just as good as the leaves, and their toughness can help keep your guinea pigs’ ever-growing teeth in tip-top condition.
A small handful of mixed kale leaves and stems is a great addition to your guinea pigs food bowl.
As with kale leaves, wash the stems before offering them to your cavy, and never give them mouldy kale stems.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Curly Kale?
As we said at the start of this guide, there’s actually very little difference nutritionally between different types of kale.
This includes curly kale.
So can guinea pigs have kale with curly leaves? Yes!
This variety will offer the same important nutrients like vitamin C. But, make sure to wash it before giving it to your guinea pig.
Kale still should not be the only food your cavy eats, even if it is the curly variety.
Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Kale?
We know adults are fine with this leafy green, but can guinea pigs have kale if they are younger?
It is safe to offer young guinea pigs small amounts of kale, but don’t overdo it. Offer them a leaf to see if they like it and to provide them with some great nutrients.
Offering kale for guinea pigs as babies will make it more likely that they will enjoy this food as adults.
But, if you’re ever concerned that your guinea pig is too young for kale, speak to your veterinarian for the best advice.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Kale Every Day?
Fresh, leafy greens like kale should make up a daily part of your guinea pig’s diet. But, don’t give them kale alone. Make sure you mix things up and offer them a variety.
Feeding them too much kale can lead to nutritional deficiencies. So, offer them kale mixed with some other leafy green veggies.
In addition to supplemental foods like kale, guinea pigs need a constant supply of fresh grass hay and water.
You will also need to feed your cavies a commercial guinea pig pellet.
This will provide them with most of the other nutrients they need to stay healthy and happy.
Guinea Pig Kale Treats
If your guinea pig loves eating kale, there are a few different ways you can offer it.
- Give them the entire leaf and stem to chew on
- Try different types of kale, including curly kale
- Mix up fresh kale with other leafy greens
Always make sure to wash kale thoroughly before giving it to your cavy, and remove any uneaten pieces.
Alternatives to Kale for Guinea Pigs
Not all guinea pigs will enjoy kale. And, sometimes, you’ll want to mix things up for your little pet.
Here are some other options that guinea pig pets may love.
Can Guinea Pigs Have Kale? A Summary
Kale for guinea pigs is a great option and will provide them with some much needed nutrients, like vitamin C. But, don’t give them kale alone.
They must also receive fresh hay, pellets, and other healthy veggies.
Wash any kale before giving it to your guinea pig, and remove any uneaten bits.
Do your guinea pigs eat kale? Is it your go-to green vegetable, or do they leave it to wilt in the food bowl? Tell us which veg your cavies are crazy for in the comments section below!
References and Further Reading
- Quesenberry, K.(et al) ‘Providing a Home for a Guinea Pig’, Merck Veterinary Manual (2019)
- ‘Guinea Pig Care’, American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)
- ‘Care of Guinea Pigs’, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Lin, A. ‘Housing and Feeding Your Guinea Pig’, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Veterinary Medicine (2016)
- National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition, ‘Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals’, National Academies Press (1995)