Can Guinea Pigs Eat Coleslaw? (You Need To Know)

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Coleslaw is a salad that goes well with many main dishes. It doesn’t have many ingredients, which makes it easy to make. Some people wonder if it is healthy for guinea pigs to eat. So, can guinea pigs eat coleslaw?

Unfortunately, guinea pigs can’t eat coleslaw. Coleslaw isn’t good for guinea pigs because it has creamy dressing. This dressing is made with mayonnaise, buttermilk, or sour cream, which can all make guinea pigs sick. So it’s best not to give your guinea pig coleslaw.

Can guinea pigs eat coleslaw - a picture of guinea pigs wondering if he can

But, a little bit of coleslaw shouldn’t hurt a piggie? Right? Right??? *Ah-hem* Keep reading to get all the details about why guinea pigs shouldn’t eat coleslaw. And to get ideas about better options for healthy salads that your guinea pigs CAN eat!

Why Guinea Pigs Shouldn’t Eat Coleslaw

a decision tree to help people figure out that they shouldn't feed coleslaw to their guinea pig
There’s lots of better options that you can feed your piggies.

Guinea pigs should not eat coleslaw because it contains a dangerous salad dressing. This dressing can give guinea pigs digestive problems.

To better understand why coleslaw doesn’t make a healthy choice for piggies, let’s look at the individual ingredients that make up this salad.

But basically, coleslaw is a salad made up of:

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Onions (sometimes)
  • Creamy dressing

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Cabbage and carrots are safe for guinea pigs to eat (in the right amounts), the other two ingredients are not. Onions belong to the Allium family of vegetables, which are usually bad for cavies.

Onions contain a substance known as thiosulfate, which is toxic to guinea pigs. When eaten in large amounts, thiosulfate can cause anemia in guinea pigs.

On the other hand, creamy dressing is dangerous because of the high levels of fat and the dairy-based ingredients.

The high fat content is bad because it can cause your piggies to gain weight (actually A LOT of weight). And the weight gain puts them at risk for health problems like bumblefoot and heart disease.

Keep dairy products (like the buttermilk and sour cream) away from your piggies, because they’re lactose intolerant. That means it’s hard for them to digest dairy. Eating it can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea. So, it’s best to avoid giving your guinea pig coleslaw.

You see, this dressing is usually made from mayonnaise, buttermilk, or sour cream. And yes, they’re horrible for piggies.

Mayonnaise, in particular, is one of the worst things you can give your guinea pig. This condiment consists of eggs, vinegar, and oil, and it’s high in fat.

With that said, let’s look at the side effects of giving guinea pigs coleslaw salad.

1. Digestion Problems

The first thing you should expect if you give your guinea pig coleslaw is digestion issues. Guinea pigs have super-sensitive bellies and will develop gastrointestinal complications even from things unlikely to harm their human companions.

The creamy dressing is what’s going to mess up your guinea pig’s digestive system. You see, guinea pigs’ digestive systems aren’t designed to process the ingredients that go into this dressing. These components will likely lead to diarrhea, stomach pain, and other digestion issues.

The creamy dressing also upsets the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in your little friends’ gut. This makes it more likely for your guinea pig to get sick.

And if you thought cabbage and carrots were entirely safe…think again. Yes, they’re better for your fur babies than other ingredients in coleslaw.

But, cabbage is a gassy veggie, which can cause bloat and pain in your piggies. And carrots are high in sugar, so you want to avoid feeding that to your piggies every day, too.

.in that cabbage and carrots can trigger issues for pigs, especially when your pigs eat them in plenty.

2. Too Much Fat And Cholesterol

Creamy dressing is not good for guinea pigs because they can’t process the fat in it well.

Weight gain is one of the main problems associated with too much fat in guinea pigs. Plus, if your guinea pig eats too much fat, they’ll have a hard time digesting it.

The creamy dressing is also high in cholesterol. And as you probably know, cholesterol isn’t always healthy for guinea pigs.

Too much cholesterol in your guinea pig’s system can lead to atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries. This, in turn, can lead to heart disease and stroke.

3. Food Poisoning

There is a risk of food poisoning when you give your guinea pig coleslaw. The ingredients in the salad may carry bacteria if they’re not washed well. Plus, the mayo, sour cream, and buttermilk can spoil quickly.

Eating spoiled food can cause some nasty symptoms like:

  • Diarrhea (lots of loose stools)
  • Lethargy (which is when your guinea pig is unusually tired)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration

In severe cases, food poisoning can even be fatal. So, if you notice any of these symptoms in your fur babies after feeding them…ANYTHING, take them to the vet immediately.

4. Too Many Preservatives

Finally, most coleslaw has preservatives to make it last longer. Since additives in foods have a tendency to make piggies sick, it’s best to avoid feeding them any salad with preservatives.

These preservatives can cause issues such as;

  • Digestive problems
  • Allergies
  • Skin irritation
  • Behavioral issues

So yes, there’s plenty to make you avoid giving guinea pigs coleslaw. But if you still don’t see the danger, keep reading to discover more.

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What Happens If I Give My Guinea Pig Coleslaw?

If you give your guinea pig coleslaw, it might have some short-term gut problems. But in the long run, it could gain weight, get heart disease, or have a stroke.

How severe the effects are will depend on how much you give your guinea pig, how often, and how much the guinea pig can tolerate.

So, to be safe, it’s best to steer clear of coleslaw when it comes to your guinea pig’s diet. Instead, go with healthier options, such as hay, pellets, and vegetables and fruits (some).

What Happens If My Guinea Pig Accidentally Eats Some Coleslaw? 

a tip about feeding coleslaw to guinea pigs
Try not to freak out. A little bit of coleslaw isn’t going to kill your guinea pig – unless there’s some serious underlying health issues.

If your guinea pig accidentally eats a small amount of coleslaw, it might give them a stomach ache that usually goes away on its own. But if he eats a lot, it might make him really sick and he’d need to go to the vet.

If your fur babies eats a lot or a little of this salad, they might have some problems with their digestion.

How severe the consequences of eating the coleslaw depends on how much they ate, their current state of health, and other factors.

Keep an eye on your little friends for the next 24 to 48 hours after they accidentally eat coleslaw. If you notice any severe symptoms, such as those listed above, please take them to the vet immediately.

Do yourself (and your little, fuzz spuds) a favor. Avoid all these issues by making sure that they don’t eat the salad in the first place. Keep it out of their reach.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage? 

Yes, guinea pigs can eat cabbage. Cabbage is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals which are essential for your piggy’s health. However, you should only give them a small amount of cabbage at a time to avoid gastrointestinal issues like gas and bloat.

If you haven’t given your guinea pig cabbage yet, it is missing out on some essential nutrients. Cabbage has a lot of minerals and other nutrients that are good for your pet’s health and happiness.

Only feed cabbage in smaller amounts. That way, you’ll be sure that your piggie doesn’t develop any possible issues from this vegetable.

And be picky with the cabbage variety you feed your guinea pig. Purple (or red) cabbage is the healthiest for pigs, followed by the Savoy variety. For guineas with bloat issues, avoid the Chinese cabbage (Bok Choy). Bok choy is sure to cause your guinea pig more problems than any other type of cabbage.

What Greens Can Guinea Pigs Eat? 

Guinea pigs can eat a variety of healthy vegetables, including kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, cilantro, turnip greens, zucchini, parsley, basil, dandelion greens and watercress. These vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals and will help keep your pet healthy when offered as a occasional treat.

Some other healthy veggies for guinea pigs include bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash. They’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all crucial for your guinea pig’s health.

When feeding vegetables to your guinea pig, remember to do so in moderation. Overfeeding can cause gastrointestinal problems like gas and bloat.

And, as with any new food, introduce vegetables slowly to your guinea pig’s diet to avoid any potential stomach problems. Start with just a few pieces of vegetable at first and gradually increase the amount over time.

What Salad Greens Can Guinea Pigs Not Eat?

The main salad green your guinea pig shouldn’t eat is ice berg lettuce. It’s not toxic, but this veggies is very watery and isn’t very nutritious for your little friends. Plus, it’s likely to cause digestive problems.

Keep these salad greens away from your guinea pig. If they eat a little, it’s not usually a big deal. But, don’t want to make it a staple (or constant) part of their diet.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t feed new foods to your guinea pig without doing your research first.

Planning Your Piggie's

Meals Just Got A LOT Easier!

Our Wheekly Meal planner is designed to make it simple and fun for you

to create balanced and healthy

meals for your furry friends -

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FREE

Ideal Diet For Guinea Pigs

The ideal diet for guinea pigs should consist of hay, fresh vegetables and fruits, and a small amount of pellets.

Hay should make up 85 to 90% of your guinea pig’s diet because it’s an excellent source of fiber. It also helps keep their digestive system healthy and prevents issues such as gas and bloating.

As for fresh vegetables and fruits, offer various them to your guinea pig daily. Always begin by washing them thoroughly to remove any pesticide residue.

You should also give your cavies grass-based pellets to eat – only a tablespoon a day. They’re packed with essential vitamins and minerals for your little friends. But, don’t give them too many pellets. They’ll get fat or stop eating as much as hay as they should – which can cause health problems.

In general, you should avoid feeding your guinea pig processed foods, sugary snacks, or anything with artificial ingredients. These are unhealthy and can even be dangerous for your pet.

PDSA (n.d.). Your guinea pigs’ diet. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/your-guinea-pig-s-diet 

The Humane Society of The United States. (n.d.). Guinea pig feeding: How much to feed. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/guinea-pig-feeding

Sardet C., Hansma N., Ostwald R. Effects of plasma lipoproteins from control and cholesterol-fed guinea pigs on red cell morphology and cholesterol content: an in vitro study. 1972 Nov;13(6):705-15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4345053/ 

Rock N Rescue. (n.d.). Guidelines for Guinea Pig Adoptions. https://rnrpets.org/guinea-pig-guidelines/

Wheek Care. (n.d.). Diet. https://www.wheekcare.org/diet

Peng Y., Cheah K., Halliwell B. High fat diets and pathology in the guinea pig. Atherosclerosis or liver damage? 2013 Feb;1832(2):355-64. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23195951/ 

Mitchel S. (2019, March 8). Is Your Guinea Pig’s Diet Providing the Right Nutrients? https://www.petmd.com/exotic/nutrition/your-guinea-pigs-diet-providing-right-nutrients 

Oxbow Animal Health. (2019, March 19). What Are the Best Vegetables and Leafy Greens for Guinea Pigs? https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/what-are-the-best-vegetables-and-leafy-greens-for-guinea-pigs/

Final Thoughts

Even though the primary ingredients in coleslaw are healthy for guinea pigs, the entire salad is not a good meal for them. The mayonnaise, yogurt, and other dressings used in coleslaw are big no-nos for your fuzz spuds. Please don’t even think about offering even a tiny amount to your pet friend. Instead, consider other healthy options to keep them happy and healthy.

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