Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means they eat plants. So, what about beets? They’re healthy and delicious for humans, but can guinea pigs eat beets? And if they can, how much can guinea pigs eat? I did a little research and here’s what I found.
Generally, guinea pigs can eat beets safely. A slice of beet fed once or twice a week is a perfect serving. Beets provide plenty of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients, but they also contains high levels of sugar, calcium and phosphorus. So, overfeeding beets can cause health problems for guinea pigs.
Now that you know your guinea pigs can eat beets, let’s find out more about nutrients in them. This blog post will also explore feed different parts of the beet and how you can feed them to your piggies safely.
Let’s take a deep dive into this information and you can decide whether or not beets are something you’d like to add to your piggie’s menu. First, let’s start with…
What Are Beets?
Beets are a root vegetable and they grow in the ground. They have traditionally have purple skin and yellow colored flesh.
They’re a variety of the Beta vulgaris subspecies, which has over 150 different varieties.
It grows in temperate zones and is cultivated in many parts of the world for its edible roots, called beetroots.
Beetroot leaves often serve as livestock fodder and spinach substitute. The young leaves can also be eaten raw or cooked like the root.
Did You Know?
Beets also known as beetroot, table beet, garden beet and are popular foods around the world.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Beets or Beet Greens?
Some guinea pigs enjoy eating beets and beet greens, but there are some guinea pigs that can’t stand beets.
Out of pet parents that I polled 69.4% of them had guinea pigs that enjoyed beets and preferred to not have the leaves. And about 30.6% of the pets preferred the leaves.
What Are The Risks Associated With Guinea Pigs Eating Beets?
Most of healthiest vegetables that guinea pigs can eat have some risk associated with them. Beets are no different.
Beet greens are a healthy treat and can be used in moderation, but should not be fed often. Don’t use beets as the main food source for your fur babies.
This doesn’t mean you can never feed guinea pigs beets!
You just have to be careful about how much they’re eating and how they’re eating it. Remember these points for safety:
- Overfeeding beets can lead to overweight piggies. Why? The sugar content of raw beetroot is crazy high and should be given to your guinea pig sparingly. Too much sugar can harm them. Obese guinea pigs are likelier to have high cholesterol levels, and guinea pigs that are overweight can suffer from bumblefoot and breathing difficulties. Make sure the guinea pig doesn’t get too heavy as this can be fatal to them.
- Too many beets can lead to digestive problems. Excessive feeding is bad news for your piggies. Beetroot is a healthy and tasty option, but it should not be given in large amounts due to the risk of digestive problems. Considering that it’s a vegetable, the amount of sugar in beets is astounding. Eating too much sugar can cause “bad” bacteria to overrun the health gut flora in your piggie’s stomach. These bad bacteria result in diarrhea, bloat, vomiting, and infections.
- Piggies prone to bladder stones should avoid beet leaves and stem. For example, the leaves and stems of beets have a high calcium content. Some guinea pigs are prone to bladder stones. These stones form from calcium deposits in their kidneys mixed with other organic matter. They’re very painful. If guinea pig already has a bad case kidney stones or bladder stones, beet leaves and stems should not be fed at all. But, a small serving of beet leaves once or twice a month won’t hurt a healthy guinea pig.
- Your piggies could have an allergic reaction. Guinea pigs can have allergic reactions to any veggie – including beets. If you are giving beets to your guinea pig for the first time, watch them closely after they eat it. Give a small amount of beets to your guinea pig. If they have a negative reaction, stop feeding beets and get in contact with an exotic vet.
- Choking hazards should be considered. Guinea pigs shouldn’t eat the beet of older beets. The skin is tougher, so it’s a choking hazard. Plus, if you cut the pieces too big, then your pet could choke on them. Luckily, they don’t have seeds or pits (like mango or pumpkin), so you don’t have to worry about them when feeding your fur babies.
- Variety is key. Rotate beets with other appropriate veggies. If you only feed your guinea pigs beets, they won’t get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. When it comes to feeding your piggies, some items must be eaten less frequently as they contain substances (like calcium and phosphorus) that pose harmful side effects if given too large of a dose. Make sure to feed guinea pigs a variety of veggies and hay so they can get the proper nutrition they need from all different sources.
Now, don’t freak out. None of these issues are a great cause for concern. And advantages of feeding beets greatly outweigh the disadvantages. With proper precautions in place, your piggie will be just fine eating beets.
How Nutritious Are Beets?
Let’s have a look at the general nutritional value of beets and then we’ll see how it lines up with what your piggies need.
Whenever you’re deciding what to feed your little friends as well as how much and how often to feed it, you need to consider :
Beets mainly consist of water (87%), carbs (8%), and fiber (2–3%).
Hmmm. So far, so good. Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of nutrients.
The table below shows the nutrients of 100g (3.5 oz) of raw beets (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
There’s a lot of nutrients in beets that make them a great guinea pig food, such as Vitamin C and fiber.
Still not convinced?
Just keep reading.
Beets Contain Anti-inflammatory And Antioxidant Properties
Beets contains betalains, which is a powerful natural plant pigment that has many beneficial nutrients for your piggies. In fact, one of the reasons beets are good for guinea pigs (and humans) is because of this component in them.
It’s these betalains that give beets their bright red color. Betalains pack this delicious vegetable with:
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Inflammation is linked to a number of guinea pig diseases, including heart disease and cancer. The betalains in beets can reduce inflammation naturally, making this veggie a great preventative measure against guinea pig diseases. Beetroot juice and beetroot extract have been shown to reduce kidney inflammation in rats injected with toxic chemicals known to induce serious injury.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants are essential for your piggie’s overall health and wellness. These molecules in the body fight free radicals. Free radical causes disease like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Antioxidants are important for guinea pigs because they can help prevent chronic diseases and illnesses. They have anti-cancer properties, too. Beets are one way that your little friends can get naturally get antioxidants through their food. So, give your piggie’s cells a little extra boost by making sure beets are include in their menu from time to time.
Beets Boost Piggie Immune Systems With Vitamin C and Iron
Beets are delicious to piggies, but they’re not just good for their taste buds. Additionally, they provide essential nutrients to help to maintain healthy immune systems in a variety of ways.
- Vitamin C: Beets contain loads of Vitamin C which is good because guinea pigs are not able to make it naturally. Vitamin C is important for the following: the development of skin and joints, and helping wounds heal. Not having enough Vitamin C makes your fur babies more likely to get other diseases like scurvy. Scurvy is a sickness guinea pigs get from not having enough Vitamin C.
- Iron: Iron is essential for your little friend’s immune system. It helps fight off possible infections, aids in preventing wounds by fighting off bacteria and helping injuries heal faster. Iron also assists in red blood cell production so that oxygen can be delivered to all parts of the body! Vitamin C and iron work together to optimize guinea pig health and well-being.
Fiber and Folate Are Friends Of Your Piggie
Healthy digestion is a must for guinea pigs, and fiber plays a big role in that. Fiber is needed to help your little friends digest all the hay they eat. Hay is difficult to digest, so guinea pig parents know that a guinea pig should be fed foods rich in fiber when possible.
Also, fiber keeps piggies pooping regularly and prevents fissures and blockages in their intestines. Digestive system blockages can be fatal for guinea pigs
Not to be outdone, folate can boost your piggie’s energy levels and reduce fatigue.
Folates also play a role in the development of fetuses. If you have a pregnant pig, adding some beets to her diet will make the babies healthier and grow stronger. They’re important for our nerve function and brain development.
Since Guinea Pigs Can Eat Beets, How Much Of It Can They Eat?
The average guinea pig can eat a small slice of beet, but only once or twice a week at most.
When deciding the appropriate amount of this veggie for your fur baby, do the following:
- consider the current state of health for each individual guinea pig (e.g sick piggies, young piggies, pregnant piggies have different nutritional needs than healthy ones)
- examine the nutrient content (e.g. Vitamin C, calcium, sugar) of the veggie offerings to determine how much is safe (which we did previously in this post)
That said, use the table below as a guide for how much beet your piggie should eat:
|Life Stage||Beet Root||Beef Leaf|
|Adult Guinea Pig (6 months or older)||No more than a slice once or twice a week due to the high sugar content||A slice once or twice a month due to the high calcium & phosphorus|
|Baby (6 months or younger)||No more than a slice once or twice a week due to the high sugar content||a small slice 2 to 3 times a month; growing piggies need more calcium than adults|
|Pregnant Guinea Pig||No more than a slice once or twice a week due to the high sugar content||a small slice 2 to 3 times a month; extra calcium encourages healthy fetal development|
|Guinea Pigs Who Are Prone to Kidney Or Bladder Stones||Avoid completely and choose a veggie with a lower calcium content||Don’t do it! Seriously! WAAAAY too calcium|
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Beet Stems and Leaves?
Guinea pigs can eat beet leaves, stalks, and stems. This is the top greenish part of the beet and are sometimes called “beetroot greens” or “beet greens”.
Beetroot greens are healthy for guinea pigs but extreme caution should be taken because high doses of calcium oxalate and phosphorus they contain.
Beet greens contain much more calcium and phosphorus than the beetroot. So, keep the following bits of information in mind:
- Calcium is essential for guinea pig health, but excess calcium has the potential to cause several diseases such as stones in the bladder or kidneys. It can even cause bloat in piggies, which is a painful (and potentially deadly) condition.
- Too much calcium and phosphorus can make it hard for the guinea pig’s body to absorb magnesium. This can lead to symptoms such as slow growth, stiffness in the legs, and tooth decay.
Beet greens contain many beneficial nutrients and so they are safe if fed infrequently. A leaf (or 1/2 of a leaf) once a month is a the perfect serving for a healthy guinea pig adult doesn’t have health have calcium issues.
As you can see from the table below, the leafy part of beets is filled with lots of nutritious goodies:
Here’s the nutritional value of 100g (3.5 oz) of beet greens / leaves (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
|Vitamin C||30 mg|
But, the negative aspects of this veggie makes things a bit tricky.
It means that pet parents should feed them with caution – especially if you have a piggie who has health issues.
Aside from beet leaves, there are other leafy greens that guinea pigs can eat and do so more frequently because the calcium content is not quite as high as in beet leaves.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Beetroot Skin?
Guinea pigs can eat beetroot skin. It’s a great guinea pig food. In fact, beet skin has many of the same beneficial nutrients for our guinea pigs as plain beetroot does.
If used in moderation and cleaned properly beforeuse, beets (if they don’t contain pesticides or dirt on their surface when peeled) should always be safe for your pet.
You don’t even need peel beets before giving them to your guinea pigs. Unless you have fussy piggies. (And let’s be honest, a lot of us do!)
If your guinea pigs refuse to eat beets with peel, the next time you serve them peeled beetroot.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Beet Greens Or Cooked Beets?
Guinea pigs shouldn’t eat cooked beets or beet greens. In fact, they shouldn’t eat cooked food at all.
Cooked food is off the table (pun intended!) for guinea pigs because:
- Piggies have delicate and perfectly balanced digestive systems, which can only tolerate food in its raw, natural state (uncooked)
- When vegetables are cooked, much of their nutritional value is lost. You literally “heat” away the vitamins and antioxidants that make the food worth eating to your fur babies. The benefits of vegetables don’t come from the results of the cooking process, but from eating them raw!
- When guinea pigs eat food that isn’t in a natural state, such as beet greens, they may suffer from allergies and stomach problems.
- Guinea pigs are herbivores. They eat hay, grass and other plants. Their stomachs are designed to digest this type of food – and nothing else.
So, if you’re going to give your little friends this lovely veggie, they need to be raw. Raw food is the perfect food for your furry friends.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Picked Beets?
Don’t give your guinea pig picked beets. Pickled ones contain too many ingredients that are not good for our pets.
For example, most recipes for picked beets include:
All of these ingredients are harmful to guinea pigs because they’ll give your guinea pig digestive problems.
Raw, uncooked veggies are always the best, safest choice for your little friends. Avoid the pickled beets.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Beets?
Canned beets are not a healthy option for guinea pigs, so they can’t eat them. Do not feed your pigs any canned foods because they’re the same as cooked food: hard to digest and leads to stomach problems and illnesses.
Canned foods often include artificial preservatives like salt (no bueno!) to improve the shelf life of food,. These extras should be avoided because they can add risk to your pet’s health.
Fresh beets are the best option for guinea pigs. The essential nutrients and vitamins that your little friends need aren’t cooked out of them.
How To Serve Beets To Your Guinea Pigs
Preparing beets for your guinea pigs is easy and straightforward. Here are the simple steps you can follow:
- Choose a beet. Bonus points if it’s organic (darn pesticides!)
- Wash the beet carefully. A half vinegar, half water mixture should work well.
- Peel the peels off. Unless you’re going to
- Slice it thinly. Once this is done, slicing can be done by hand or with your guinea pig’s favorite guinea pig food chopper .
- For guinea pigs who are very picky about their guinea pig foods , you may decide to puree the beets.
- The beets can then be fed as-is or with other guinea pig veggies to ensure they get their share of vitamin C and other nutrients
Lastly, you need to remove any uneaten fruits or vegetables from the cage to avoid fly and rats infestation in the cage.
In a Nutshell: Guinea Pigs and Beets
There are so many health benefits to eating beets. The nutrition in beets makes it an awesome addition to your piggie’s diet – as long as they’re served sparingly.
Raw beets are an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and Folate that is needed by your guinea pigs.
However they should only be served in moderation. The high phosphorus and calcium content means that too much beet can lead to various health issues such as bladder stones, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Guinea pig owners need to make sure no more than a small slice of beetroot or 1-2 beet greens at one time is given once or twice a week. Beetroot leaves or stems should only be served 1 – 2 times a month.
The staple part of your guinea pig’s diet is hay with vegetables acting as supplements for nutrients not found in hay alone. This makes it very important to feed them the right balance balance of veggies daily.
Now you should be feeling a lot more confident about guinea pigs and beets.
Feel free to swing by again, the next time you have questions about giving your furry friend a delicious meal.