Can Guinea Pigs Eat Kale? (Risks & Rewards)

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As you stroll through the produce section of the grocery store, looking for something tasty to give to your piggies, you might wonder if your guinea pigs can eat kale?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat kale in moderation. Kale is full of nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and tons of antioxidants that are good for guinea pigs. But, it also has large amounts of calcium that can cause bladder and kidney stones in if it’s not fed in proper amounts.

a picture of a beige and white

Let’s take a closer look at kale, and the best way to feed it to your guinea pigs – safely.

An easy-to-read food chart for safe piggie foods – Buy, download, and print.

What is Kale?

a decision tree to help people figure out if they should feed kale to their guinea pig
Kale isn’t bad. You just have to ask yourself if it’s right for YOUR piggie.

Kale is a type of cabbage with green or purple leaves. It can be curly, lacinato (also known as dinosaur), or Russian kale. You can find it fresh in the produce section of most grocery stores and markets, usually near other leafy greens like spinach and arugula.

Kale is a member of a family of cabbage cultivars. It is a leafy green vegetable that is quite similar to spinach. It’s a “superfood” for humans due to the high nutrient contained in it (but it has lots of good nutrients for piggies, too).

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Benefits of Feeding Guinea Pigs Kale

a tip that shares that guinea pigs can eat kale in moderation
Balance and moderation are key when feeding ANYTHING to your cavies.

There’s plenty of benefits to taking the plunge and feeding kale to your guinea pigs. In fact, I can count at least 3 reasons why you should consider it. Some of those benefits are:

1. Improved Eyesight and Skin Health

There’s about 241 mg of Vitamin A in 100g of kale. That’s a ton of Vitamin A. Now, you won’t ever feed that much kale to your little friends, but Vitamin A is necessary for good vision.

And let’s be honest, our poor-sighted piggies need as much help in that area as possible.

The Vitamin A can also help with keeping your guinea pig’s skin healthy. Vitamin A helps collagen production, which is important for skin health. Kale can help keep your guinea pig’s skin healthy and looking great!

Having issues with your piggie having dry skin? Take a peek at their diet. It’s possible your little friend needs a bit more Vitamin A (and probably more Vitamin C) on the menu.

2. Boosts the Immune System

Kale is a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants can help protect cells from damage, which can lead to disease. They can also scavenge harmful toxins and byproducts that can cause damage.

All that damage can add up, and eventually lead to a weakened immune system. But, by feeding your guinea pigs kale (and other healthy veggies properly) in the right amounts, you can help keep their immune systems strong and healthy.

Remember, a strong immune system is vital for keeping your furry friend free from disease.

3. Keeps Them Trim and Healthy

There’s very little fat in kale. Plus, it’s a low calorie food.

That means you can feed your guinea pigs the tasty treat without worrying that they’ll end up packing on the pounds.

So, if you’re looking for a way to help your guinea pig stay trim and healthy, feeding them kale might be the answer you’ve been looking for.

4. Helps Guinea Pigs Avoid Scurvy

Scurvy is a horrific disease that can plague guinea pigs. Symptoms include:

  • weakness
  • gums that bleed
  • fractured bones
  • bruising easily
  • general malaise and depression

Why can kale help with this?

Because it’s full of Vitamin C. Around 10 to 30mg of Vitamin C is needed daily or the average, adult guinea pig. But, a bit more is needed for piggies who are pregnant or nursing or recovering from an illness.

Plus, Vitamin C can help keep the guinea pig’s immune system strong. So if you’re looking to provide your guinea pigs with a tasty treat that can also help them stay healthy – kale might just be the answer.

Can Kale be Bad for Guinea Pigs?

Yes, kale can be bad for guinea pigs, but only if you feed them too much of it, too often. Moderation is important for your cavies to enjoy kale safely without negative consequences.

1. Bladder and Kidney Stones

Guinea pigs end up with bladder and kidney stones when their diet is too high in calcium. And kale can contribute to that problem if the guinea pig is already getting too much calcium on their menu.

These stones form in the urinary system (bladders and kidneys) of your little friends when they can’t properly break down (and get rid of -through peeing) the calcium in their diet.

The extra amounts can lead to crystals which can eventually form into stones, preventing your piggie’s urinary system from working correctly.

This is a condition you would not want your guinea pigs coming down with as it is very dangerous to their health.

What does that look like?

Well, pretty painful and pretty awful for your cavy.

If left untreated, your piggie isn’t able to urinate, will pee blood, and can eventually die from kidney failure or any number of domino-effect illnesses that can arise from having a urinary system that isn’t working properly.

As you can see, giving your guinea pigs too much kale can have some pretty serious consequences.

So, while kale is a great source of Vitamin C and other nutrients, it’s important to feed your guinea pigs in the right amounts so that they don’t end up with bladder or kidney stones

2. Bloat and Gas

Certain heavy leafed plants, of which kale is, can cause bloating in your guinea pig. That’s the major reason some types of cabbage are not advisable to be fed to guinea pigs.

It’s also why you can’t feed your guinea pigs tons and tons of leafy greens without planning their meals in a balanced way.

Kale can be great for your guinea pig, but you can’t let it dominate their diet and replace other low-calcium, non-gassy vegetables like corn husks and silks, endive, and red leaf lettuce.

Again, moderation and balance is key when feeding greens to your furry friends – especially if they are one of the many that are prone to bloat.

So it’s important to know what types of foods are good for feeding your piggies

3. Diarrhea

Similar to how some leafy greens can cause gas, other can lead to diarrhea.

And kale is one of those foods.

Overfeeding kale is a sure fire way to send your little friends running to the bathroom more often than not.

If your guinea pig is having regular bouts of diarrhea, it might be a good idea to take a closer look at their diet and see if you’re overfeeding them kale or any other high-fiber food.

(True talk. Any issues with their digestive system can be life-threatening to a guinea pig. So be careful.)

Kale can be a great addition to your guinea pigs’ diet, but it’s important to remember that too much of anything can be bad for them.

So, always feed your piggies a variety of different fruits and vegetables, and make sure kale is only one part of their healthy diet.

How Does Kale Compare To Other Leafy Greens That Guinea Pigs Can Eat?

Kale can be a great part of your guinea pigs diet (if it’s fed the correct way), but it’s not the only green they can eat. In the table below you’ll find the nutrient breakdown of a few more greens based on the USDA website.

The amounts below focus on the fiber, sugar, Vitamin C, and calcium of different types of greens:

 FiberSugarCalciumVitamin C
Kale4.1g0.8g254 mg93.4mg
Bok Choy1g1.18g105mg45mg
Collard Greens4g0.46g232 mg35.3mg
Mustard Greens3.2g1.32g115 mg70mg
Turnip Greens3.2g.81g190 mg60 mg
Chicory Greens4g0.7g100 mg24mg
Spinach2.2.42g99 mg28.1mg
Arugula1.62.05g160,g15mg

So, kale obviously has one of the largest amounts of calcium out of the bunch (actually an insanely high amount of calcium – the highest out of all greens in the table).

But:

It also has a great deal of Vitamin C (essential for piggies) in it. And fiber which is also essential for their diet.

So, how can we make kale safe for piggies?

How can we ensure that the calcium doesn’t ruin their health, while still giving them all the benefits of the vitamin C and fiber?

It’s simple:

Just feed kale sparingly. No more than once a week (or biweekly if you want to be extra cautious). And make sure to monitor your piggies health carefully so that you can adjust their diet if needed (like if you start seeing cloudy-white, gritty pee that’s a sign of excess calcium ).

In cases like this, you don’t necessarily have to keep kale off the menu. Just limit serving kale to a few times per week and don’t feed any other greens with high calcium (like bok choy, collards, or turnip greens) at the same time.

Yep, it’s that simple.

Balancing it off with foods that are low in calcium (see below).

  • radicchio
  • cucumbers
  • corn silks or husks
  • romaine lettuce (in moderation)
  • endive
  • red leaf lettuce
  • purple cabbage (in moderation)
  • spring mix (spinach-free that is)

Nutritional Facts for Kale

In a hundred grams of kale, the following nutrients are present:

  • Water – 89.63 g (kale provides good hydration for your little piggies)
  • Carbohydrates – 4.42 g (this is important in aiding the digestion of your guinea pigs)
  • Fiber – 4.1 g (fiber is an essential nutrient for your piggies as it helps their gastrointestinal health, and kale gives you just that)
  • Protein – 2.92 g (this helps in the growth and repair of cells, among others)
  • Fat – 1.49 g (the low fat makes kale ideal in avoiding obesity)
  • Sugar – 0.99 g (low sugar. Perfect. It will help in preventing too much activity due to the sugar rush and ensure better health. This is because guinea pigs can get diabetes…if you’re not careful).
  • Vitamin C – 93.4 my (in such a high amount! The importance of vitamin C to your little piggies is enormous. Above all, it boosts the immune system of your guinea pig).
  • Potassium – 348 my (balances the diet of your little one and helps in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases)
  • Calcium – 254 mg (helps in muscle activity and prevents blood clotting. Too much of this can go wrong, though, so be mindful).
  • Phosphorus – 55 my (plays a vital role in teeth and bone formation).
  • Vitamin K – 388 micrograms (controls blood loss in cases of injury and speeds up recovery).
  • Vitamin A – 4812 IU (important for vision and normal bone development)
  • Energy – 33 Calories (ensures lower weight for your piggies and even an extended lifespan in many cases).

From the above listings, you can see how much of a great idea the leafy vegetable, kale, is for your guinea pig.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raw Kale Leaves?

Of course guinea pigs can eat kale leaves. They’re a great addition to your piggies diet, because of the Vitamin C, Vitamin A and other nutrients that it has. All parts of the kale vegetable are enjoyed by guinea pigs, and the leaves are in no way an exception.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Kale Stems?

Yes, kale stems are safe for guinea pigs to eat. Guinea pigs can also eat the stalks. Kale stems are chewy and fibrous, and even the fiber is good for your guinea pigs. It also helps in wearing down the teeth of the guinea pigs, and most owners know how important this is.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Kale?

No, guinea pigs can’t eat cooked kale. Cooked kale isn’t good for guinea pigs because it can be tough on their digestive system. Cavy digestive systems aren’t designed to process cooked foods. Plus, the important nutrients in kale are lost when it is cooked, so it’s best to feed your piggies the raw leaves instead.

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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Curly Kale?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat curly kale safely. Curly kale is a variety of regular kale. But, it has many of the same nutrients. More care should be taken in rinsing it, though as dirt or pesticides can be hidden in its curls. As long as you feed it in moderation and vary your piggies diet, curly kale can be a great treat for them.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Frozen Kale?

No, guinea pigs can’t eat frozen kale. While it might be a great way preserve veggies for your little friend, frozen kale is bad for guinea pigs. The freezing process destroys many of the nutrients in kale, so it’s not as good for them as the fresh leaves. This becomes of little or no benefit to your guinea pigs.

Plus, ice-cold veggies are hard on the digestive system of guinea pigs. It’s better to serve your cavies food that’s room temperature. As always, fresh kale remains the ideal thing for guinea pigs.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Kale?

Canned kale is not best for your guinea pigs, and they shouldn’t eat them. Canned vegetables tend to contain salt (and other additives) in them, and this is harmful to guinea pigs. While it can look like more work, the fresher the kale, the better.

Can My Guinea Pig Eat Kale Every Day?

No, guinea pigs can’t eat kale every day. Once a week or biweekly is recommended. Kale can be a great addition to your guinea pig’s daily diet, but not every day. Guinea pigs can get bladder stones from too many leafy greens with calcium like kale (and they can also develop bloat and other health issues…if you’re not careful).

How Much Kale Should I Feed My Guinea Pig?

About two to three small pieces of kale should be fed to your guinea pig. This should be done not more than once a week or so.

Remember to rinse it properly before feeding it to them. The reason kale should be rinsed well is to kill off pesticides that can be harmful to your guinea pigs. It can be served mixed with other things like fruit and hay or pellets.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Kale and Spinach?

Guinea pigs can eat kale and spinach. But, they shouldn’t be eaten together.

Since kale and spinach both have a high calcium content, it’s best that they’re served at separate times to your guinea pigs. For example, serve a bit of kale one week and the next week, give your cavies a half a leaf of spinach.

And when you do, add lower calcium veggies to the meal – like squash, turnip, endive, or corn husks.

Like with all leafy greens (and especially given their high calcium content) spinach and kale should be fed in moderation to prevent bladder stones or other health issues from developing.

Does Kale Cause Bloat In Guinea Pigs?

Yes, kale can cause bloat in guinea pigs – especially if it’s fed every day in large quantities. In fact, it’s almost a guarantee that a guinea pig will get bloated if kale is the only vegetable in their diet.

Remember, variety is key when it comes to feeding guinea pigs. So, don’t rely solely on kale to feed your piggies – mix it up with other vegetables and fruits too!

Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Kale?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat kale. From as little as a few days old, baby guinea pigs can begin to nibble on solid food. But, it’s best to wait until they’re two to three weeks old and don’t need to nurse from the mothers.

When you feed kale to baby guinea pigs, make sure that it’s in very small quantities (much smaller than what you’d give to an adult piggie – and that should be pretty small, too). And that you introduce it slowly.

Just like with adults, you have to feed it in moderation and rinse it carefully.

Can Pregnant Guinea Pigs Eat Kale?

Yes, pregnant guinea pigs can eat kale. Kale is packed with Vitamin C and other nutrients that are important for pregnant guinea pigs and their offspring.

Just like any other food, serve it in moderation to your pregnant piggy to avoid health problems down the road. And always rinse kale before giving it to her – pesticides can be harmful.

How To Introduce Kale To Your Guinea Pigs

a quote about guinea pigs eating kale
To safely feed kale to your fuzz spuds, you need to make sure you feed it to them the right way.

Here’s a few tips to help you introduce kale to your guinea pigs’ diet:

  • Feed it in small amounts at first. Then, see how they take to it before feeding more.
  • Rinse the kale carefully before giving it to them – especially if you can’t be sure of where and how the plant was grown.
  • Be careful not to feed too much kale to your cavies
  • Mix the kale with other vegetables and fruit like apples, radicchio, or squash to give your piggies variety in their diet.
  • Don’t feed them only kale – they can get very sick from eating this vegetable every day.

What Other Types of Leafy Greens Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

  • Bok Choy – This is a fine vegetable that can and should be fed to guinea pigs. Bok choy, however, a cabbage type veggie that produces gas and can result in bloating in your guinea pigs if fed too often. Given in really small quantities, it is okay to feed your guinea pig with bok choy two to three times a week
  • Collard Greens – being a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, collard greens are a fine nutrient giver for guinea pigs. These also contain a good amount of calcium in them and so should be given in moderation.
  • Chard – containing essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants, chard can and should be fed to your guinea pigs. It should not be fed to them every day, though. Chard contains oxalic acid, which can be harmful to your guinea pigs in high doses.
  • Endive – while this can have a bitter taste, it is quite safe for your guinea pigs. Endive contains vitamins and minerals essential to the development of your guinea pig. You can feed your guinea pig this leafy green one or two times a week.
  • Spinach – This is a good source of vitamin C and is loved by a lot of cavies. However, too much spinach can cause bloating and discomfort as well as bladder stones if not given in moderation.
  • Radicchio – this is a good vegetable to be offered to your guinea pig two or three times a week. If your guinea pig doesn’t seem to like a vegetable at first, don’t give up. Try offering different parts of the vegetable. Some guinea pigs prefer the inner leaves to the outer ones.

What Foods are Toxic to Guinea Pigs?

There’s a long list of foods that can be toxic to guinea pigs. If you’re curious about what can’t, here are a few:

Onions – they can cause anemia or red blood cells damage in guinea pigs. It is best not to feed them onions at all.

Potatoes and Potato Leaves – They contain solanine, which can be toxic to guinea pigs in large doses.

Rhubarb – leaves and stalks of this plant are poisonous to guinea pigs.

Tomatoes – the stems, leaves, and unripe fruit of tomatoes can all cause stomach problems or worse in your guinea pig.

Cooked foods – of all kinds are toxic to guinea pigs and should be avoided, including cooked kale. This is because cooked foods cannot be digested by them.

Dairy products – guinea pigs can’t properly digest dairy products and they can cause diarrhea.

Caffeine – found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate, caffeine is highly toxic to guinea pigs and can cause heart problems,

Seeds and peanuts – can cause digestive problems and can also lead to obesity.

Chocolate – can be toxic to guinea pigs when fed in large doses.

Keep in mind. This isn’t a complete list. If you have any other questions about what can or can’t be fed to guinea pigs, contact your vet.

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

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Wrap Up

So, can you feed your guinea pig kale. Yes, but be careful.

Kale is a great source of nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and antioxidants that can lead to lots of health benefits for your furry potatoes.

But, they can also lead to bladder stones & bloat in guinea pigs if given in the wrong quantity.

Moderate serving is advised. Feeding it to them in the right way (sparingly) will ensure they get all of the benefits without any of the risks.

Remember to mix it up with some other lower-calcium greens every once in a while. And please DON’T feed kale with other high-calcium foods. That’s just begging for trouble.

Grass hay and pellets are not enough to provide your guinea pigs with the essential vitamins that they need.

Fresh vegetables are needed in addition to their daily diet, and kale is a beautiful, healthy option as long as you remember to wash it well and not make it so often. Adding other vegetables or fruits would help as well.

Leafy greens are a great choice for your health, and kale is one of the best. Kale has a lot of health benefits, and it’s easy to follow the serving size.

Have you fed your fuzz spuds kale before? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below.

Caring For Your Pet Guinea Pig. (n.d.). NC State Veterinary Medicine. https://cvm.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Caring-for-your-Guinea-Pig.pdf

Difference between collard Greens and mustard Greens. (2020, June 10). Foods Guy. https://foodsguy.com/collard-greens-and-mustard-greens/

DVM, S. L. (2015). The Guinea pig handbook. Barron’s Educational Series.

Kale (Raw): FoodData central. (n.d.). FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/323505/nutrients

Lowering blood calcium. (n.d.). House Rabbit Society | Buy a Bunny a Little Time. https://rabbit.org/journal/3-5/calcium.html

Nutrient requirements of the Guinea pig – Nutrient requirements of laboratory animals – NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK231932/

Oxbow Animal Health. (2019, March 15). What Are the Best Vegetables and Leafy Greens for Guinea Pigs?: Oxbow animal healthhttps://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/what-are-the-best-vegetables-and-leafy-greens-for-guinea-pigs/

Potential of alfalfa as a source of calcium for calcium deficient horses. (1990, April). PubMed.

Sizer, A. (2009, November 22). List of foods without calcium | Livestrong.com. LIVESTRONG.COM. https://www.livestrong.com/article/38733-list-foods-calcium/

Spinach (Raw): FoodData central. (n.d.). FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/323505/nutrients

Whitbread, D. (2021, July 28). Top 20 vegetables highest in calcium. myfooddata. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-calcium-vegetables.php

Wondering which Guinea pig veggies are best? | Small pet select. (2019, December 10). Small Pet Select Blogs. https://smallpetselect.com/best-veggies-for-guinea-pigs/

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