Is Cabbage Toxic To Your Guinea Pig? (Find Out Here)

Decisions, decisions. You know that your guinea pigs need a variety of vegetables, so you want to try adding cabbage to their daily diet. But, can guinea pigs safely eat cabbage?

Cabbage is an excellent choice for guinea pigs, as it’s nutritious and safe to eat. As long as your guinea pigs only has cabbage 2-3 times per week and eat lots of hay to help with digestion, they’ll avoid the negative side effects from overeating cabbage like bloat or kidney stones.

So, what do you need to know about feeding cabbage safely to your guinea pigs?

And this vegetable has a variety nutrient levels: what types can benefit your pet’s dietary needs?

This post will provide you with helpful tips about our in-depth study on cabbage and what you need to know before feeding it to your pets.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage?

Of course, guinea pigs can eat cabbage. As long as a few simple precautions are followed, there’s nothing to stop guinea pigs from enjoying this nutritious vegetable.

Cabbage and a number of other leafy vegetables get a bad rap because of their moderately high calcium content.  However, guinea pigs should not be stopped from eating it because of this reason alone. Most cabbages are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

The most important thing is to know which type your guinea pig can eat safely and how much they should be eating at a time. It is important to understand that all varieties are not equally healthy for guinea pigs.

Let’s begin by exploring four types of cabbages in order to narrow down which is best for your furry friend.

But before we dig deep into this conundrum, let’s explore four types of cabbages in order to narrow down which is best for your furry friend.

can guinea pigs eat cabbage? what's the best cabbage to feed a guinea pig

Which Types Of Cabbage Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

can guinea pigs eat cabbage

Not all varieties are created equal. Some types are better for guinea pigs than others. And since there are many varieties, you’ll need to choose the type that’ll be best for your little friends.

The four most common types of are: savoy, green leaf, chinese, and purple (also called red).

Purple (or red) cabbages are the best vegetable for guinea pigs to eat followed by savoy. Both have higher vitamin C content than the others with moderate calcium levels. But, Purple has the advantage over Savoy because it contains a high amount of antioxidants.

Guinea pigs should avoid is Chinese cabbage. The calcium content is entirely too high. Eating it isn’t worth the risk – especially since the Vitamin C content isn’t that high.

But, how did I come to that conclusion?

I consulted with my bestie the USDA to break down the calcium and vitamin C content of each of the main types below:

  • Vitamin C amounts are important because guinea pigs are often prone to scurvy if they don’t get enough. Scurvy is a disease that can be caused by a lack of vitamin C. Scurvy makes guinea pigs lethargic, sore-looking, and causes bruising under their skin.
  • Calcium is important because guinea pigs need some to maintain healthy teeth and bones. But, not so much that they end up with kidney and bladder stones. And a bladder stone is something that you don’t want your piggie to end up with.

Here’s a brief look at the nutritional profile of each vegetable below:

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Savoy Cabbage?

Guinea pigs can eat savoy cabbage. Just make sure you limit serving to a half a leaf or one leaf once or twice a month.

Savoy cabbage has the least amount of calcium out most common cabbages. So, it’s perfect to feed to your little friends if they’ve had bloating and gas problems in the past. It’s less likely to reactivate their bloat. 

Plus it has the most dietary fiber in it of all the cabbage.

It provides vitamins A and vitamin C, vitamin K and B6, folate, potassium, manganese and thiamin. It also provides calcium and iron.

There’s not as much vitamin C in Savoy as other types of cabbage though. So, you’ll need to make sure you add other vitamin C-rich vegetables to your little friends like bell peppers and snow peas.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Green Leaf Cabbage?

Guinea pigs can eat savoy cabbage. Just make sure that you don’t overfeed it to your piggies. A leaf of cabbage once or twice a month is enough for the average guinea pig.

This one is the most popular and also has a higher amount of calcium than savoy. However, the calcium content isn’t quite as high as some other types of vegetables like broccoli or kale.

It provides a wide variety of nutrients, too. Notably, it offers more Vitamin C than savoy, but less than purple.  However, the high calcium content means that purple and savoy beat green leaf for my recommendation. 

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Napa (Chinese) Cabbage?

Average healthy, guinea pigs can eat napa cabbage. But, if your guinea pig has had bloat issues in the past, then you might want to avoid giving it to your guinea pig.

This type of cabbage is probably the worse choice to feed your guinea pigs if they’ve had bloat issues. The Vitamin C content is high, which will help decrease the odds of your guinea pigs getting scurvy. 

But, it has an obnoxious amount of calcium in it. The Chinese variety has 2 to 3 times more calcium than most of the other veggies reviewed.

If I were you, I’d steer completely clear of this variety for all of your little friends – even the healthy ones. And definitely don’t feed this vegetables to guinea pigs with a history of bladder stones (or kidney stones).

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Purple Cabbage?

Guinea pigs can eat purple cabbage. It’s healthy, nutritious, and filled with antioxidants. So it makes a great choice for your guinea pig’s diet as long as it’s fed in the correct amounts.

(Purple cabbage is also called red cabbage. So, if you’re wondering…yes, guinea pigs can eat red cabbage.)

Although it has a slightly higher calcium content than savoy, is a fantastic source of vitamin C.  It has almost twice the amount of Vitamin C as savoy cabbage. Now, that’s impressive!

Another big benefit of red cabbages is that they’re packed with antioxidants that help to fight cancer cells and other diseases.

Red cabbage contains compounds called anthocyanins. These give the vegetable its color. The pigment in many plants has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and other illnesses.

can guinea pigs eat cabbage?
CabbageFiberVit CCalRanking & Why
Savoy 3.1g31mg35mg2 – lowest amount of calcium, highest in fiber, but Vitamin C & antioxidants aren’t as high as Purple
Purple/Red 2.1g57mg45mg1– high levels of vitamin C with LOTS of antioxidants (great for healthy guinea pigs)
Napa (Chinese) 1g45mg105mg4 – good source of Vitamin C, but calcium is WAY too high 
Green Leaf 2.5g36.6mg40mg3 – Calcium isn’t as low as Savoy; Vitamin C and antioxidants aren’t as high as Purple

Why You Should Feed Your Guinea Pigs Cabbage (the Pros)

Many pet parents let their pigs that eat cabbage. It’s a safe, nutritious food for them to consume. As long as your guinea pig has a healthy and functioning digestive system, he can eat some of this tasty veggie.

Stronger Immune System

The benefits of this leafy vegetable are numerous. It’s loaded with compounds to keep your piggies well and healthy. Here’s a few health benefits of cabbage:

  • Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for cavies.  It’s a great source of vitamin C that boosts the immune system, slows aging, and prevents inflammation. Without Vitamin C, collagen can’t be made. And collagen helps your piggie’s skin, bones, muscles, and blood vessels work properly.
  • Additionally, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage have tons of antioxidants in them. These also help fight inflammation and free radicals that cause diseases and shortens lifespans.
  • It contains beta-carotene (also known as Vitamin A) that guinea pigs need for healthy skin and eyesight. (And we know that piggies need as much help with their poor eyesight as possible, am I right?)

Strong Bones and Teeth

Meet calcium! The mineral pet parents love to hate. It’s important to feed to guinea pigs. Too much of it can lead to digestive problems. Without it, your piggie will have issues with teeth and bones health.

Cabbage is a vegetable that contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These are important minerals which help keep your guinea pigs’ bones healthy. It also has other vitamins in it like vitamin K which helps to strengthen your bones and ligaments.

Cardiovascular Health & Blood Clotting

Cabbage is good for your heart. It can help raise levels of beta-carotene, lutein, and other antioxidants. It can also help prevent heart disease by easing inflammation.

Additionally, it’s an excellent source of vitamin K, which helps blood clot. If you don’t have enough of vitamin K, your fur baby’s blood can’t clot well. That makes it hard to stop bleeding if your little friend get a cut or a wound.

Can Cabbage Kill Guinea Pigs? (the Cons)

can guinea pigs eat cabbage

There are some risks involved with feeding cabbage to guinea pigs. The main risks are bloating and gas, bladder stones, and food contamination. Let’s discuss these risks in more detail.

Bloating and Gas

When overfed, guinea pigs are unable to sufficiently digest cabbage. This leads to very painful digestive problems including bloating, flatulence (gas), and diarrhea. Guinea pig bloat is when gas builds up in the stomach and intestines.

The roughage is what causes guinea pigs to be more susceptible to bloating. If you feed cabbage to your little friends make sure:

  • They’re eating large amounts of hay to help with digestion. Your guinea pig needs lot of extra fiber to help break down the cabbage and avoid bloating.
  • That it’s served with a mix of other veggies that are lower in calcium. Each guinea pig should have a cup of veggie each day. Make sure that you rotate the vegetables.
  • You only give your piggies a small serving once or twice a week.

Bladder and Kidney Stones

Overfeeding cabbage can lead to your piggie’s getting bladder or kidney stones. You see, guinea pigs have different dietary needs than humans do.

Extra calcium from food piggie’s eat ends up in their kidneys and bladder. That’s a problem, because if it stays there, it’ll form painful stones in your piggies. (yeah, not fun)

So, why not just eliminate calcium from your piggie’s diet altogether?

Sorry, it’s not that simple. Your piggie needs calcium. Just not too much of it.

Balance and moderation are what’s important.

You’ll keep your guinea pig happy and healthy without overdoing it when you feed them cabbage or any other type of food, for that matter.

Food Contamination (E. Coli, Salmonella)

Unfortunately, cabbage can be contaminated with different types of bacteria that can make your furry friends very sick.

So, always handle your produce safely. If you’re going to feed cabbage to your guinea pig, it’s best if:

  • The produce fresh and organic (preferably).  Fresh foods are always best.
  • Don’t feed your fur babies pre-prepared shredded cabbage that have sat out for a while. Keep itsafe in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be cleaned or eaten.
  • Clean the cabbage leaves very well with water. If the outside is visibly dirty, then scrub it with a small vegetable brush.

Vegetables and leafy greens are common sources of food poisoning, because they’re usually eaten raw. Raw vegetables don’t go through the normal cooking procedure that would kill off any harmful bacteria or germs. 

The most common food-poison carrying vegetables are lettuce, spinach, celery, tomatoes and (yep, you guessed it) cabbage.

They can become contaminated with bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella when water is unclean or if dirty runoff seeps into the soil where veggies grow at farms.

It can also occur from dirty processing equipment and unhygienic food preparation practices.

Can Guinea Pigs Have Cabbage Everyday? (Feeding Guidelines)

Guinea pigs shouldn’t have cabbage everyday. Because most cabbages can cause bloat or bladder stones in large amounts, it’s recommended that cabbage should only be fed 2 or 3 times a week. And only once or twice a month if your guinea pig has had bloat issues in the past.

Honestly?

Some pet parents avoid cabbage completely, if they’ve had to deal with bloat-stricken piggies.

One leaf or a half a leaf is a good serving size for most healthy guinea pigs. It has enormous nutritional benefits for your fur babies.

A surefire way to hurt your guinea pig’s stomach is by feeding it too much cabbage. As always, you need to take the general advice about feeding it into consideration and look at your guinea pig’s individual health.

Remember, you’re asking for trouble if you give your guinea pig too much cabbage or to feed it on the same day as other vegetables that cause gas (like brussel sprouts or spinach).

Take a closer look at the table below for a few more specific feeding guidelines:

Life StageServing
Adult Guinea Pig (6 months or older)No more than a leaf or two a week due to the high calcium content
Baby (6 months or younger)none at all or a very small piece once or twice a week
Pregnant Guinea PigNo more than a slice once or twice a week due to the high sugar content
Guinea Pigs Who Are Prone to Kidney Or Bladder Stones OR BloatAvoid completely and choose a veggie with a lower calcium content

Lastly, don’t feed cabbage on the same day as other vegetables that cause gas (like brussel sprouts or spinach). You don’t want to cause a calcium spike in one day, but rather spread it out over the week.

How To Prepare (And Store) Cabbage For Your Guinea Pigs

Once you’ve chosen the cabbage that you’re going to feed to your piggies, you’ll need to prepare it. It’s pretty simple. And the method is the same whether you’re prepping purple cabbages or green leaf. Just follow the steps below:

  • Take off the outermost, thick green cabbage leaves
  • Cut the cabbage into wedges and wash it in a colander with running water.
  • Dry it as best you can by shaking it and patting it with a clean towel.
  • Rip off a leaf or two and feed it to your fur babies.

If you have a half or quarter of it left over, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can also store it in a plastic bag, making sure to push all the air out and keep the leftovers in the crisper.

Try to use the rest of the vegetable within 2 to 3 days.

Leafy Vegetable Alternatives

Leafy green vegetables (and the nutrients they contain) are essential to a balanced diet for your guinea pigs. No vegetable is supposed to be exclusively eaten by guinea pigs – not even cabbage.

But, there are other leafy green vegetables that you can feed your guinea pig as long as you do so in moderation.

  • kale
  • collard greens
  • turnip greens
  • mustard green
  • greens mix (a combination of spinach, collards, turnips and kale)

Make sure that you always mix up the types of veggies in your piggie’s feeding schedule and don’t overfeed them.

Each guinea pig should only have a cup of vegetables a day. This will make sure that they’re getting a good variety of nutrients that they need.

Final Thoughts About Guinea Pigs And Cabbage

As you can see, cabbage isn’t toxic to guinea pigs. There’s no need to feel nervous about feeding your guinea pig cabbage.  They’re filled with nutritional goodies for your piggies like vitamin k, vitamin a, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. 

But, there’s a few precautions that you should take when feeding it to guinea pigs.

Cabbage should only be fed sparingly (once or twice a week). One leaf or half of one is a good serving size for most healthy guinea pigs, and a good addition to their natural diet. If your guinea pig has health issues, they may need to avoid altogether.

An excessive intake of it can cause serious health problems for your guinea pig.

And there are a few types of cabbage that guinea pigs can eat and some they should avoid at all costs. Please make sure you’re feeding your guineas the right type for their specific health needs.

Purple cabbages are the best choice for healthy guinea pigs while savoy are best for piggies who’ve had digestive issues in the past.

Remember that there’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” vegetables for guinea pigs. It’s all about balance.

That’s why guinea pig owners should always make sure that their guinea pigs are getting a variety of vegetables in addition to whatever leafy greens they choose to feed their piggies.

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Lettuce, other leafy Greens, and food safety. (2021, March 9). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/leafy-greens.html

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