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Why Can’t Guinea Pigs Eat Seeds?

Some guinea pig food typically includes a few seeds, but involved owners have also probably heard seeds aren’t great for the pets. 

Why is this the case?

There are many reasons you need to avoid giving any seeds to your guinea pigs. 

We all want our piggies to be as happy and healthy as possible, which means looking out for their best interests. 

This includes not giving them seeds as treats or in their food.  

Guinea pigs can’t eat seeds. They pose a safety hazard as they may get stuck in the guinea pig’s teeth and cause pain. They also pose a choking hazard as small pieces of seed may get lodged in their throat. Seeds are also high in fat and lead to obesity and weight gain.  

Guinea pigs can’t eat seeds for a few different reasons. 

We’ll go over everything you need to know about why guinea pigs can’t eat seeds and alternatives to these as treats. 

why can't guinea pigs eat seeds

Why Aren’t Seeds Safe For Guinea Pigs?

Seeds are not safe for guinea pigs to eat. 

Why is this? 

As guinea pig owners, we want our cavies to be as happy and healthy as possible. 

To do this, we need to educate ourselves on what is safe for them to eat and what is dangerous for them to eat. 

One of the main reasons you want to avoid giving them any seeds is their safety risks. 

Guinea pigs tend to gnaw at food. 

With seeds, this often leads to smaller pieces laying around, which pose a risk of choking. 

The last thing anyone with cavies wants is their little furry friends to choke on what was intended to be a special treat. 

Another safety risk posed by seeds is the possibility of them getting stuck in their teeth. 

When this happens, it is excruciating for your guinea pig. 

It is hard for them to get it off by themselves, and removing it for them often causes them significant discomfort. 

It’s best to avoid giving seeds to your guinea pigs to keep them safe. 

Another big reason to keep seed away for guinea pigs comes from a health standpoint. 

Seeds have high-fat content and contribute to unhealthy weight gain in guinea pigs. 

Guinea pigs are naturally fluffy and chubby-looking creatures, but they still experience the adverse side effects of obesity and weight gain. 

Avoiding seeds as a snack will help keep their diet balanced and healthy. 

Make sure you check ingredient lists on products from commercial food producers. 

There are many other nutritious and tasty snacks to give your guinea pigs with low-fat content. 

Seeds Are A Safety Hazard For Guinea Pigs

We all want to keep our beloved guinea pigs safe and healthy as cavy owners. 

We would never knowingly put them in danger. 

However, if you are giving them seeds as a treat or giving them guinea pig feed with sunflower seeds in the mix, you are putting them in danger. 

Some people have not had bad experiences giving their cavies to guinea pigs, but we highly recommend against it. 

It is not worth the risk. 

They Get Stuck In The Guinea Pig’s Teeth

You’ve likely noticed how your guinea pig enjoys gnawing and chewing on things. 

This behavior is vital to their dental health. 

Guinea pigs need to chew on things to keep their teeth at an appropriate length. 

If they do not, their teeth will continue to grow, making them more prone to breaking and becoming a discomfort. 

When guinea pigs eat seeds, there is a risk of the seed getting lodged or stuck in their teeth. 

This is very painful for them and causes them a lot of discomfort. 

On top of this, they are usually not able to remove the seed independently. 

This means you must take it out or take them to a veterinarian to safely remove the seed. 

This process is stressful for guinea pig owners and uncomfortable for the guinea pigs themselves. 

They Pose A Choking Hazard

A more severe risk posed by guinea pigs eating seeds is the genuine risk of them choking on the seeds. 

If small pieces of seeds end up in the mix, they may get lodged in your guinea pig’s throat. 

Choking leads to injury and death in guinea pigs. 

It is not worth the risk. 

There is also the possibility of digestive issues if the seeds cause obstructions. 

Some people feel better about giving guinea pigs seeds when they are present and able to supervise them. 

We feel there are so many other tasty and safer snacks for guinea pigs. 

Giving seeds to your pet is not worth it. 

Make sure to carefully assess your guinea pig food and treat purchases to ensure there aren’t any seeds in the mix. 

This assures your beloved guinea pigs are safe and can eat their food without risking their physical well-being. 

Seeds Are Fattening And Unhealthy

seeds are fattening for guinea pigs

Besides the physical dangers of piggies eating seeds, they are also not the healthiest treats for them to eat. 

Seeds are high in fat and calories, so too many will have your guinea pig gain weight fast. 

Like humans, guinea pigs suffer from the harmful effects of weight gain. 

Seeds are not a healthy snack for guinea pigs. 

There are plenty of other options which will satisfy your guinea pig’s need for a snack without all the extra fat and calories. 

Ensuring guinea pigs get all the vitamins and nutrients they need is crucial to their overall health. 

Vitamin C is critical. 

Making sure they have a consistent source of Vitamin C helps to ensure their overall health. 

It’s essential to make sure they get a wide range of vegetables with beneficial nutritional content and fiber. 

Fiber keeps their gastrointestinal health in good shape and their overall digestion. 

If we don’t give our guinea pigs a good balance of nutrients, they are more likely to gain weight and reach unhealthy levels of obesity. 

Here are some of the possible negative health concerns associated with overweight and obese guinea pigs:

  • Excess weight causes unhealthy pressure on joints and bones. Guinea pigs’ spines are vulnerable to injury. Adding the element of excess weight makes them even more susceptible to injury. 
  • Obese guinea pigs tend to have poor glucose levels. When this happens, it may cause the body to burn more fat than necessary. The condition is called ketosis and is a serious concern for pregnant guinea pigs as this tends to lead to stillborns and miscarriages. 
  • Another major issue faced by overweight guinea pigs is poor hygiene. The extra mass on their body makes it harder for the piggies to reach and groom their entire bodies. Ungroomed areas are more prone to infection, leading to serious conditions. 

Learn how to help guinea pigs lose weight.

Healthy Alternatives To Seeds

You probably want to know about alternatives since you now know how unhealthy and unsafe seeds are for guinea pigs to eat. 

There are plenty of healthy alternatives to giving seeds as treats. 

A proper and balanced diet is key if you want your cavies to stay healthy. 

You want to make sure your pet’s nutritional needs are met. 

This often means incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your guinea pig’s diet. 

Your guinea pig will love to munch on crunchy fresh foods in addition to their regular feed. 

Supplying healthy food and snacks is an essential part of keeping guinea pigs. 

Here are some great options for treats and food for your beloved cavies, including various types of fruits. 

We are sure they will thank you for the special snacks.

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots and baby carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Grasses and hays
  • Green beans
  • Dandelion greens
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Dark lettuces

Never give your guinea pig sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. 

While larger seeds like sunflowers and pumpkin seeds are not safe for guinea pigs, the tiny seeds in most nutritious fruits and vegetables are fine. 

You don’t have to remove seeds from food items like cucumbers, strawberries, or tomatoes. 

Other Foods To Avoid Giving Your Guinea Pigs

seeds are bad for guinea pigs

It may have come as a surprise for some to learn guinea pigs aren’t able to safely eat seeds. 

This is especially true, seeing as some commercial guinea pig food brands include seeds in the ingredients. 

It likely has you wondering what else you need to avoid giving your guinea pigs. 

This is good information for all guinea pig parents to know and review periodically to ensure they aren’t giving their beloved pets anything they shouldn’t. 

Here are some other food items not to give to your guinea pigs:

  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Dairy products
  • Meat
  • Bread
  • Cooked food

It is also important to avoid most human food if it is cooked or heavily seasoned. 

Avoid excess sugar and provide a natural diet for your piggies. 

Guinea pigs’ food and diet are an essential part of their health. 

Related: Can you change your guinea pig’s diet?

Other Ways To Keep Your Guinea Pig Healthy

If you are concerned some of the food and treats you give to your piggies are unhealthy, consider making some changes. 

The best ways to keep your guinea pig healthy are by providing a balanced diet filled with beneficial nutrients and fresh water, and plenty of opportunities for stimulation and exercise. 

In addition to this, you’ll want to give them unlimited amounts of clean water in their water bowl. 

While guinea pigs aren’t necessarily the most athletic creatures, they still benefit from exercise. 

There are a few ways to incorporate exercise into your guinea pigs routine. 

Floor Time

Floortime is an excellent way to provide exercise. 

It is also a fantastic way to bond with your guinea pig and build a loving relationship. 

To have safe floor time, you must consider a few things. 

This means keeping the floor free of any choking hazards or wires your guinea pig may find and chew on. 

It is also essential to make sure the doors are closed. 

This makes sure there is no way for them to escape from the room. 

It helps to keep a paper bag or box around as a safe hiding place. 

This hiding place often helps piggies adapt to time outside their guinea pig cage. 

Chew Toys

Chew toys are a great way to provide stimulation for your piggies. 

There are plenty of safe chew toys available on the market specifically designed for guinea pigs. 

Chewing is also an essential part of maintaining dental health. 

Chewing and gnawing grind down their teeth and keep them at a safe length. 

This reduces the likelihood of your guinea pig breaking teeth or experiencing discomfort. 

The chew toys also provide an engaging activity for your guinea pigs to keep them moving. 

Further reading: Can guinea pigs break their teeth?

Hiding Treats

Another way to trick your guinea pigs into exercise is by hiding treats in their cage. 

Put them in their hiding hole or under a bit of bedding. 

Your guinea pig will have to search and dig to find the treats. 

Sniffing out and searching for the guinea pig treats provides mental and physical stimulation. 

Finding the treat or fresh vegetables after a bit of work will also make your beloved furry friend so happy. 

It is vital to keep track of where you put treats. 

Leaving food unattended in the cage leads to moldy and rotten food. 

These are not good for guinea pigs to eat, so avoid any opportunity for moldy or rotten food. 

It’s also essential to monitor the sugar content of the treats. 

Exercises To Avoid

While we want our guinea pigs to get exercise, it is vital to ensure it is done safely. 

Guinea pigs have very fragile spines and bones. 

This means some exercises are more likely to injure them. 

For example, guinea pigs should never use hamster wheels. 

While they may provide excellent exercise for mice, rats, and other rodents, the wheel may damage guinea pig spines when running. 

Other people consider getting a guinea pig harness and leash to take their beloved pets on walks. 

This poses a severe risk to the guinea pig’s back, much like the hamster wheel. 

The pulling of the harness and leash may cause serious injury. 

We don’t recommend using this on your hamster if you value their physical health. 

Read more about guinea pig leashes in our article at the link.

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