Is Lavender Toxic to Guinea Pigs?

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Our little furry friends are happiest when they munch away at hay, fruits and veggies. But, what about flowers – specifically lavender? Is lavender toxic to guinea pigs?

It’s perfectly safe for your guinea pig to eat lavender in moderation. Lavender has several health benefits and can also have a calming effect on some guinea pigs. But, it’s important that you introduce the herb to your piggie in small doses because their digestive system needs to get used to it. 

a guinea pig wondering if he can eat lavender

Different herbs and flowers can have different effects on your little friends. Some are good and some are bad. Below you can read more about the health benefits of lavender and how to introduce it to your guinea pig in a safe way. 

Is Lavender Toxic To Guinea Pigs?

a tip about whether guinea pigs can eat lavender

Lavender isn’t poisonous to guinea pigs. But, you should only give them a small amount of lavender.

Sure, there’s some benefits to lavender (more on that below), but too much can be harmful.

Lavender contains a lot of good vitamins and fibers, but not enough for it to be a main part of your piggie’s diet. Lavender should be a treat and not a main food source

Like humans, guinea pigs can also have allergies. Lavender is one of these possible allergens, which usually causes rashes on your piggie’s skin. It can also cause swelling in the mouth or eyes and sneezing. 

Is Lavender Good For Your Guinea Pigs?

Lavender has many health advantages and can be a good addition to your piggie’s snacks once in a while. Here are some of its good qualities.  

Packed With Antioxidants

Lavender is full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are involved in DNA repair processes and keeping our cells healthy. This is true for both humans and guinea pigs. 

This is one of the reasons why lavender’s known to be anti-inflammatory and having healing properties. 

There are lots of fruit and veggies that also contains many antioxidants. Some common antioxidants you may have heard of include vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. All these can for example be found in carrots! 

Can Have Calming Effects

Lavender has a sedative effect, which will make your furry friend feel calmer and more at ease. This makes lavender the perfect treat to get your piggie to chill out

If your piggie is very easily stressed, you can trying giving your cavy a little lavender every now and then.

Emphasis on the “little” and emphasis on “every now and then”.

Lavender shouldn’t be given to your guinea pig every day, as it can have a negative effect if given too often. Once or twice a week is the maximum you should give your guinea pig lavender.

This can be an option if your piggies live in temporarily stressful conditions. Like, if you’re moving or renovating. 

And if your cavies are especially active at night, then a little bit of lavender might . You can’t use lavender every day though. Only once or twice a week.

Can Help With Anxiety

Lavender is a soothing scent that can help SOME guinea pigs with anxiety. There’s no way to predict whether your guinea pig will find the scent soothing, but it’s worth trying if your piggie is struggling with anxiety.

Try giving your skittish little piggie a little fresh lavender and see if it has a calming effect. If not, then try another method to help your guinea pig with anxiety.

It certainly can’t hurt to give lavender a try.

But, let’s be clear:

This isn’t a substitute for making your guinea pig feel less stressed in their home. If your fur baby is stressed out, then you need to take a good look at their living conditions. Ask yourself:

  • Are they getting enough exercise and social interaction?
  • Do they have a good diet?
  • Is there bullying going on with their cage mate?
  • Are you housing them in a large enough cage?

Make sure to answer these questions before turning to lavender as a solution.

Risks to Consider When Feeding Lavender To Guinea Pigs 

As with most things, there are of course risks with feeding your guinea pigs lavender. Remember, everything in moderation. 

Overfeeding

Lavender has been shown to be toxic in high doses. Feed your guinea pig lavender as a healthy snack, and not as a main food source. 

Overconsumption of lavender can lead to problems with your piggie’s urinary tract. The flower contains a lot of calcium and sodium. This can lead to painful urination if there is an excess of it in your piggie’s system.

Pesticides

Pesticides are very harmful to guinea pigs. Thus it’s important you always check that their food isn’t sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. The easiest way to do this is to buy organic food. 

Lavender is however naturally repellant of insects. This means it’s very unusual that growers spray lavender with pesticides, or even bother to pay for an organic certification. 

You can always check with the supplier or grower before buying lavender. This way you can be certain the lavender isn’t sprayed with anything. 

Digestion Issues

Lavender may cause digestion issues for your piggie if you give them too much at once. Introduce the flower in small amounts to your guinea pig at first and increase it with time. 

You can for example feed them a little lavender once in a while and then start to introduce more. Don’t feed your piggie lavender more than once a week. 

Lavender can also have a good impact on your piggie’s digestion if they don’t eat too much. It contains compounds that stimulates enzymes in both the stomach and the liver. 

Do Guinea Pigs Like Lavender?

Many guinea pigs like lavender, others doesn’t. As you know, lavender has a pretty unique smell and taste. In the end, it’s simply a question of your piggie’s preferences. 

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dried Lavender?

Yes, feeding your piggies dried lavender is no problem. Your fuzzy friends may however prefer it fresh, as with most other herbs they eat

a tip about guinea pigs eating lavender

Remember that dried lavender is a concentrated form of the herb. This means a little goes a long way.

Start by giving your piggie a few lavender flowers and observe their reaction before feeding them more.

Don’t overfeed them, or your fur babies’ get an upset stomach (if not worse). Start with a little and increase gradually.

Fresh, organic lavender is the best option for your guinea pigs. But if you can’t find any, then dried lavender is a good alternative.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lavender Leaves?

Guinea pigs can eat lavender leaves. But you should be careful with many leaves you give your piggies. 

Lavender leaves can be a bit more toxic than other parts of the plant. Too much can impact your piggie’s blood sugar and digestive system in a negative way

When you feed your piggies lavender, limit the leaves to about one each

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lavender Flowers?

Your piggies can happily munch away on lavender flowers. Just like with the rest of the plant though, lavender flowers should be eaten in moderation. 

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lavender Stalks? 

Eating lavender stalks is no problem for guinea pigs. As long as this too is in moderation. Your little friends may however prefer the flowers and leaves. 

Can Guinea Pigs Eat French Lavender?

French lavender is perfectly safe for guinea pigs and they might even prefer it. 

Still, this flower (as well as other types of lavender) may be harmful to other pets. For example, it is toxic to chinchillas. Make sure to check the dietary restrictions for all your pets. If you’re unsure, always consult a veterinarian

Will The Smell Of Lavender Hurt Guinea Pigs?

Yes, the smell of lavender may hurt guinea pigs. In fact, any strong smells may bother your furry friend. This is because guinea pigs have a very good sensitive sense of smell.

Now, fresh lavender is however not as strong smelling as other plants. This means the chances of your piggie being bothered by the smell is pretty slim.

However:

Lavender oil is a completely different story. This is a concentrated form of the plant and the smell will be very strong. Lavender oil should never be used around guinea pigs (or any other pet for that matter).

If you compare the smell fresh lavender to lavender oil, you’ll definitely notice a difference. Lavender oil is much more concentrated than the fresh version. 

Make sure not to overwhelm your piggies with things like lavender candles or oils. This also goes for other strong scents like detergents, fabric softeners and perfumes. These things can quickly become too much for your piggies to handle.

How Often Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lavender? 

You can feed your guinea pigs lavender about once or twice a week. Make sure to only give your piggies small amounts of lavender each time. 

Also make sure one of your little fur babies doesn’t hog all the lavender. If you give enough lavender for two guinea pigs, one of them should definitely not eat it all.  

How To Introduce Lavender To Your Guinea Pigs 

You can start by giving your piggies small amounts of fresh lavender together with other foods. Stay with them the first time you introduce lavender, to make sure they don’t have an allergic reaction. 

You can start giving lavender once every two weeks so their digestive system gets used to it. Then you can start giving it to them once a week and slowly increase the amount.

Remember not to feed your piggies lavender more than twice a week and only as a snack. 

Anti-spasmodic means it can help relieve muscle spasms. Anything that’s good for neutralizing cramps is a plus for guinea pigs that are prone to getting them.

What Flowers and Herbs Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

There are many different flowers your piggie can eat, like dandelion and rose hip. Not only do they taste good, flowers and herbs can also be a healthy addition to your guinea pig’s diet

There’s some flowers and herbs which are safe and nutritious for your fur babies: 

  • Yarrow: A type of weed which is safe to eat. Many other weeds are however poisonous to your piggie. 
  • Clover: It’s safe to eat the entire plant, but only in very small amounts. 
  • Marigolds: Good for your piggie’s immune system! Can relieve stomach inflammation and sooth wounded skin. Also known to help deal with parasites.
  • Fennel: Unlike other bulb veggies, fennel is safe and can be added to your piggie’s daily veggies.
  • Basil: Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and can help with indigestion. Can also help boost appetite and help with worming. 
  • Geraniums: Safe for guinea pigs in small doses. Large amounts may cause intestinal problems. 
  • Dill: Antispasmodic and is a good remedy for upset stomachs. 
  • Parsley: This herb is also anti-spasmodic and can help with digestion. It also purifies the blood.
  • Chamomile: Has a calming effect on your piggies. Can also ease pain or tension as well as assist with indigestion.

What Herbs Should Guinea Pigs Avoid?

While many herbs are good for your piggie, there are also herbs that your piggie should avoid. These include: 

  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Chives
  • Jasmine

If you’re unsure about what herbs or other things your piggie shouldn’t eat, always consult a vet

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Wrap Up

Lavender is perfectly safe for guinea pigs to eat. It can help calm your furry friends and contains a lot of antioxidants

Lavender should be consumed in small amounts and no more than twice a week. It’s also important to introduce lavender slowly into your fur babies’ diet, to give their digestive system time to adjust. 

So give your piggies some lavender and watch them enjoy this healthy snack.

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Can Guinea pigs eat Lavender? – Small pet hub. (n.d.). Small Pet Hub – Keep Your Small Pet Happy. https://smallpethub.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-lavender/

Can I use Lavender as an insecticide? (n.d.). Home Guides | SF Gate. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/can-use-lavender-insecticide-93324.html

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Safe herbs list for rabbits & Guinea-pigs — Bunny meadow. (2021, April 10). Bunny Meadow. https://www.bunnymeadow.co.uk/blog/safe-herbs-list-for-rabbits-amp-guinea-pigs

Sharma, L., Chandra, M., & Ajmera, P. (2019). Health benefits of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education, 4(1), 1274-1277. https://www.journalofsports.com/pdf/2019/vol4issue1/PartAB/4-1-317-920.pdf

SILVA, G. L., LUFT, C., LUNARDELLI, A., AMARAL, R. H., MELO, D. A., DONADIO, M. V., NUNES, F. B., AZAMBUJA, M. S., SANTANA, J. C., MORAES, C. M., MELLO, R. O., CASSEL, E., PEREIRA, M. A., & OLIVEIRA, J. R. (2015). Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of Lavender essential oil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 87(2 suppl), 1397-1408. https://doi.org/10.1590/0001-3765201520150056

What is Lavender? Possible health benefits, how to grow it, and best sellers | Everyday health. (2018, July 25). EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet/what-are-possible-benefits-lavender-must-know-facts-about-therapeutic-plant/

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