Can guinea pigs eat plums? Let’s Find Out!
It is hard to resist giving your guinea pig treats, isn’t it! Just the sight of your sweet pig’s cute face while you are biting into a ripe, juicy plum can make you feel like you simply must share – it’s too good to keep it all to yourself!
But are plums actually good for guinea pigs? Would a guinea pig in the wild, happening upon a fresh plum, ever choose to eat one?
Are there any safety concerns you should think about before offering your precious piggie a fresh plum? Do plums have any nutrients that are good for your guinea pig?
In this article, we help you find the facts fast about whether guinea pigs can eat plums!
Are plums safe for guinea pigs?
Without delay, here is the answer you need to know: the plum fruit is safe for your guinea pig to eat in moderation.
So now let’s talk about the specifics of what that means. First things first: you need to know that the pit of the plum fruit is never safe for your guinea pig to eat – it has cyanide in it, which is probably part of the reason why most people don’t like to eat it either!
Also, swallowing the plum pit can present a choking risk even for bigger animals like dogs and for human kids and adults, so there is no doubt it could be extremely dangerous if your tiny guinea pig ever swallowed a plum pit!
We will talk more about what to do if you discover your guinea pig snacking on a plum pit later in this article.
Otherwise, the fruit of the plum itself does have some good nutrients your guinea pig can benefit from. So now read on to learn more about plum fruit portion size, a recommended frequency of feeding, and when to use caution before feeding your guinea pig fresh plums.
Fun facts about plums
Did you know plums are related to roses? Plums are also related to peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries and, believe it or not, almonds!
All of these plants come from the same family, Rosacea, and the genus Prunus.
Archeological digs indicate that plums were quite likely a dietary staple for humans living as far back as the Neolithic Period (the Stone Age), which started around 10,200 B.C.
Plums come in lots of different colors, including white, yellow, green, red and purple. Different varieties of plums can taste tart or sweet depending on the type and when they are picked.
And, of course, plums form the basis of that dried digestive staple: the prune.
What nutrients do plums contain?
So what does a fresh plum fruit have to offer your guinea pig in terms of vitamins, minerals and nutrients? Plenty, as today’s nutritional science shows us!
Happily, fresh plums are packed with vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, K, C and E. Plums offer your guinea pig a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids, which can bind to toxins and reduce inflammation, respectively.
Plums are also loaded with potassium, which helps to maintain healthy blood pressure and good bone strength. Even better, plums are natural immune system boosters and can reduce the risk of illness and disease as well as help the skin stay healthy and the brain remain sharp.
Are plums bad for guinea pigs?
However, before you go chopping up a whole plum for your guinea pig’s dinner, there are also some drawbacks to feeding your guinea pig too much plum fruit that you should be aware of.
If you want to feed your guinea pig plums as a treat, try to get organic plums if at all possible, because they are the least likely to contain GMOs or pesticides. Whether organic or conventionally grown, however, be sure to wash the plum first to remove any surface toxins from the skin.
While it is fine to feed your guinea pig small amounts of fresh plums, never feed dried plums (prunes) to your guinea pig. Dried fruit is far too high in sugar and can also lead to discomfort from diarrhea and upset stomach.
Plums do contain oxalates, which in some individuals may cause kidney stones. Oxalates, or oxalic acid, is a natural acid found in some types of produce.
In guinea pigs, oxalic acid binds to calcium and can cause hard stones to form in the kidneys, bladder and connecting tubes (ureter, urethra). This condition is called urolithiasis.
Since guinea pigs are already prone to calcium stones, and some more than others depending on past health history, you really don’t want to increase the risk of stones forming.
However, guinea pigs do need calcium sources in their diet, so this doesn’t mean you need to avoid ever feeding your guinea pig any produce that contains oxalates. It just means you need to make sure that oxalate-containing fresh produce, such as plums, is fed sparingly and as part of an overall balanced diet.
If your guinea pig seems to have difficulty urinating or you notice blood in the urine, this can be an indication of stones and you should take your pet to the vet. However, just because your piggie isn’t showing any symptoms doesn’t mean there are no stones.
If you are concerned, your vet can help you with recommended dietary modifications to limit the risk of stones now and in the future.
How to prepare plums for guinea pigs
You might be tempted to skin the plum before offering bits to your guinea pig as a treat. However, the skin is where much of the plum’s antioxidant power resides!
If you want to feed your guinea pig some fresh plum, cut off about one-eighth of the plum. Chop it up very finely, skin included. Offer it in a small bowl. If your piggie hasn’t consumed it all within one-half hour (unlikely!), remove it after that time.
Are plums good for guinea pigs?
Plums can be good for guinea pigs when fed in strict moderation.
Guinea pigs should be fed fruit sparingly – no more than one to two times per week. This means that you will need to choose your guinea pig’s treat fruits carefully based on what nutrients each fruit has to offer.
Plums do offer a high amount of Vitamin C, which guinea pigs (like people) can’t make on their own inside their body.
Guinea pigs need to get Vitamin C from their food. So this makes plum fruit a good choice for your guinea pig’s twice weekly fruit treat.
Can guinea pigs eat plums every day?
The first time you offer your guinea pig plum fruit, you will likely notice it goes “down the hatch” quite quickly! If you offer your piggie plums every day, she will probably happily eat them every day.
But veterinarians caution against providing your guinea pig with too much fruit. For optimal health, guinea pigs should not eat any kind of fruit every day. Once or twice per week is plenty of fruit!
Why is this? Fruit is highly palatable, but the guinea pig’s digestive system did not evolve to digest fruit well.
It can cause diarrhea and stomach aches. Also, plums are high in oxalates, which can lead to the formation of painful and dangerous calcium stones.
The best approach is to offer fresh skin-on plums no more than two times per week, no matter how much your adorable guinea pig tries to beg for more!
My guinea pig ate a plum pit – what should I do?
You never want your guinea pig to have access to a plum pit. But accidents can happen, and it is important to know what to do if your guinea pig ever does eat a plum pit.
There are two major risks: cyanide poisoning and physical obstruction.
Plum pits contain a substance called amygdalin, which turns into cyanide when eaten raw. But the amygdalin/cyanide is only released when the pit is crushed.
Of course, once the plum pit is inside your guinea pig, it is pretty hard to know whether he crunched on it before swallowing it!
This means that the only safe course of action is to speed your piggie over to your veterinarian immediately. Whether your pig swallowed the pit whole and intact or crushed it first, it is likely your vet will want to do an exam and perhaps take X-rays to determine the next steps.
Can guinea pigs eat plums
Fed in appropriate portions, safely chopped up in bite-size bits and pit-free, plums can be a healthy part of your guinea pig’s weekly diet.
Not only are plums nutritious and rich in Vitamin C, but plums are very tasty, and your guinea pig will likely enjoy them very much. It feels good to give your pig a tasty treat now and again!
Do you feed your guinea pig plums? What is your piggie’s favorite fruit treat?
Resources and Further Reading
Fisher, P.G. et al (2018). Guinea Pigs Wellness Care. Pet Care Veterinary Hospital.
Wright, J.J. (2017). Interesting Facts About Plum Trees. Garden Guides.
Axe, J. (2018). Plum Benefits Your Digestion & Cardiovascular Health.
Hoefer, H.L. (2006). Urolithiasis in Rabbits and Guinea Pigs. North American Veterinary Conference Small Animal Edition.
Cosmulecu, S. et al (2015). Total Phenolic, Flavonoid Distribution and Antioxidant Capacity in Skin, Pulp and Fruit Extracts of Plum Cultivars. Journal of Food Biochemistry.
Oglesbee, B. (2011). Vitamin C Deficiency in Guinea Pigs. Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Small Mammal, Second Edition.
FDA (2017). Animal Health Literacy – Potentially Dangerous Items for Your Pet. Food & Drug Administration.