Guinea pigs can eat spinach in small quantities as an occasional treat.
Spinach is a source of fiber which is essential for guinea pig digestion, and useful macro-nutrients like potassium and magnesium.
But spinach also contains large amounts of calcium, which causes bladder stones in guinea pigs if they consume too much.
Spinach in Guinea Pig Diets
Guinea pigs are rodents that live on a herbivore diet. This means they are vegetarians and like to consume grass, vegetables, fruits, and other roughage throughout the day.
Spinach is a well-known leafy green human super-food that has gained popularity recently for its nutritional density.
But how much spinach is suitable for your guinea pigs?
In this article, we will take a look at the suitability of spinach as a food source for guinea pigs. We’ll also look at whether they like the taste of spinach, and how much spinach you should be giving your guinea pig.
Continue reading to find out how spinach fits into the natural diet of a guinea pig.
What is a Natural Guinea Pig Diet?
Originally, guinea pigs lived in the wild in South America. They lived in rocky areas near grasslands and forest edges.
Guinea pigs are a grazing animal and they need 24-hour access to grass and other roughage sources. Guinea pigs instinctively know what to eat, so an excellent option is to let your guinea pig roam in an enclosed garden or pet pen on your lawn.
They will graze on the grass and take in the vitamins and minerals they require to survive. The lawn area should not be treated with chemicals or fertilizers as consuming these products could prove fatal to your guinea pig.
Guinea pig teeth never stop growing so it’s important to allow enough grazing time during the day, so the roughage grinds down their teeth.
In a hutch or indoor enclosure, guinea pig-specific commercial pellets and hay provide roughage instead.
The Correct Diet is Important
Guinea pigs also need fresh drinking water at all times. On average, a guinea pig will need 200-400mls of water per day. If they are left without water, even for just a short while, they can quickly become dehydrated.
This 2017 study highlights the importance of a correct diet for overall body function and health in the guinea pig.
Spinach is a form of roughage, but how suitable is it for guinea pigs? Continue reading to find out.
What is spinach?
Spinach is a green, leafy vegetable that is packed full of nutrients. It is grown directly from seeds in rich, moist soil.
Spinach Nutritional Facts
- 1 cup of raw spinach contains:
- 7 calories
- 30mg of calcium
- 58 micrograms of folate
- 24mg of magnesium
- 167mg of potassium
Spinach is very low in carbs and sugar but is high in fiber and protein. In humans, spinach is known to improve the health of your skin, hair, digestive system, bones, cardiovascular system and can help to prevent cancer. But do these benefits extend to guinea pigs?
Is spinach good for guinea pigs?
Due to the high levels of nutrients in spinach, you may think that feeding a guinea pig spinach on a regular basis is a good idea.
However, you should remember that guinea pigs are small animals. Though it may sound counter-intuitive, it is in fact possible to guinea pigs to receive too many nutrients.
Eating large volumes of nutrient-rich foods can overload the organs in their body which process those nutrients. This includes their digestive system, liver and kidneys.
Spinach is one of those foods. The nutrients in spinach are too high for guinea pigs to consume on a regular basis.
Is spinach bad for guinea pigs?
If you feed spinach regularly to your guinea pig, you are putting them at greater risk of developing bladder stones.
Spinach contains high levels of calcium which contributes to bladder stone formation. See this study completed way back in 1977 about extra calcium and bladder stones.
You can give a few leaves of spinach to your guinea pig once a week. It should only be given as an occasional treat in small quantities. Always feed raw spinach to your guinea pig.
Since spinach is largely available as loose leaves in bags, keep aside one or two from your next salad as a guinea pig treat.
What vegetables can guinea pigs eat?
There are many other vegetables that guinea pigs can eat safely.
The vegetables and plants that can be consumed in large quantities are:
Grass and hay should make up over 80% of your guinea pigs’ total diet.
The vegetables that can be consumed regularly in small quantities are:
- Cucumber – this can be given daily and is a good source of water during the summer months
- Zucchini – this can also be given daily and is a good source of water when the weather is hot
- Spring greens
- Bok Choy
- Green beans
- Cauliflower leaves
Which vegetables are toxic to guinea pigs?
There are a few vegetables and plants that are toxic to guinea pigs:
- Deadly nightshade plants e.g. potatoes
- Dock leaves
- Alliums – this includes red and white onions, scallions and garlic
- Any house plants
- Tomato leaves
Which fruits can guinea pigs eat?
There are some safe fruits that you can give your guinea pigs in small quantities. Remember fruits contain naturally occurring sugar. So, you don’t want to overload your guinea pig with sugary food.
- Kiwi fruit
- Cantaloupe Melon
- Honeydew Melon
- Passion fruit
Which fruits are toxic to guinea pigs?
When feeding your guinea pig, there are some fruits you should avoid:
- Any citrus fruit
- Any fruit cores, pits, seeds or stones
Read more about what foods guinea pigs can’t eat here.
Do guinea pigs like spinach?
Spinach has a strong metallic taste to it. Your guinea pig will either love it or hate it. There is no way of knowing unless you try it with your guinea pigs.
Remember, even if your guinea pig loves spinach, they can only be fed small amounts once a week to avoid adverse health problems.
Can guinea pigs eat spinach?
In summary, guinea pigs can consume spinach in small amounts.
2 or 3 leaves a week, with the stems cut off, is enough spinach for a guinea pig to reap the nutritional benefits without having an impact on their health.
There are plenty of other vegetables and food sources that guinea pigs can consume in moderation that they may enjoy more than spinach.
References and Resources
H. Catherine, W. Skinner, G. W. Osbaldiston, A. N. Wilner (1977) Monohydrocalcite in a guinea pig bladder stone, a novel occurrence. American Mineralogist ; 62 (3-4): 273–277.
The effects of diet on anatomy, physiology and health in the guinea pig – Nottingham ePrints. (2019). Eprints.nottingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 9 September 2019, from