Is Lemon Safe For Guinea Pigs To Eat? (Spoiler: No, It’s Not)

It’s important for your guinea pigs to have a balanced diet, but what’s hard to know is what’s right for them to eat. Lemons are a healthy fruit for humans, but can guinea pigs eat lemon?

Lemon is a fruit that shouldn’t be fed to a guinea pig at all. If you were to feed a lemon to a guinea pig, you should only do it once or twice a year. Due to it’s high acidic content, overeating lemons could cause a number of health problems including: mouth sores, teeth sensitivity, and digestive issues.

Let’s take a deep dive into this guinea pig diet question and understand why guinea pigs cannot eat lemon. We’ll also look at alternatives to lemons.

Are Yellow Lemons Bad For Guinea Pigs? (the Cons)

can guinea pigs eat lemon

Guinea pigs can eat lemons. They aren’t toxic to guinea pigs. But, eating them large amounts does put your fur babies at risk. The high acidic content of lemons can cause a lot of problems for guinea pigs

Unfortunately, the risks of guinea pigs being hurt by eating lemon outweigh the benefits. They’re are brimming with absorbic acid. So, the consequences of eating them regularly are pretty horrible for your cavies.

Here’s what your little friends have to look forward to if you overfeed them acid-filled fruit:

Corroded, Weak Teeth

The acid in lemons can make guinea pigs’ teeth weak.

But, why?

Say hello to “enamel”. The natural enamel on your piggie’s teeth can protect their teeth from daily grinding, munching, and gnawing.

It can chip and crack. But, generally speaking the enamel in your piggie’s mouth can withstand the test of time.

The heavy duty acid weakens enamel, which makes makes your piggie’s teeth fragile – and could make chewing painful.

Since healthy piggies always need to be eating, grazing, and foraging, having a weak set of teeth would be a health disaster for your little friends.

Forget the Vitamin C, your piggies teeth won’t be strong enough to chew hay if you give them lemons to eat every day.

Mouth Sores

Since a piggie’s mouth tissue is very delicate and susceptible to damage, it’s easy pickings for the high acid content in lemons.

Eating too much over time can trigger mouth sores (ulcers) in your fur babies – especially if your piggie is eating a lot of it.

Those mouth sores can be really painful and your fur babies may not be able to eat enough food to stay healthy. Plus, those sores take a long time to heal. And if bacteria makes its way into the broken skin of mouth sore, then you’re looking at a whole other set of problems.

Stomach Issues

Pet parents have to be mindful of foods that mess with guinea pigs’ stomachs. And lemons are among those guinea pig foods to watch out for.

The acid in the juice can damage guinea pig’s stomach linings, and make eating a painful experience.

And cavies that have sensitive tummies should avoid certain foods that trigger stomach upset.  It could also give your piggies loose stool and make it hard for them to eat.

Let’s say that your piggie is suffering from this situation and refuses to eat. Starving guinea pigs don’t live long (their digestive systems always have to be moving) and guinea pigs with stomach issues can get seriously sick if they’re not eating properly.

⭐Key Takeaway:

Lemons contain a variety of nutrients that adult guinea pigs need – calcium, potassium, and antioxidant properties. But guinea pig’s bodies are sensitive to the acid. So, the downside to this is that the high acid content may cause guinea pig mouth sores, teeth issues, and stomach problems.

If you want some more information on what guinea pigs can eat safely, check out these posts: Is Rice Safe For Guinea Pigs To Eat? (Find Out Here) and The Truth About Blueberries (Can Guinea Pigs Eat Them?)

Do Guinea Pigs Like Lemons?

Anecdotal evidence from my research suggests that the majority of guinea pigs who’ve tried the fruit don’t like it.

Since lemons are so rich in Vitamin C, they’re quite sour. And although guinea pigs have taste buds that can pick up sour flavors, guinea pigs would much rather have something sweeter – or at least veggies that aren’t quite as sour.

As usual, I wanted to get an idea of the experience that hundreds of pet parents had feeding their piggie the fruit.

Surprisingly, I found that very few guinea pig owners even let their cavies try any. It simply didn’t occur to pet parents that they could give their guinea pigs lemons to eat.

Of the few that did, only three stated that their guinea pig enjoyed it. And two of them said that they wouldn’t do it again even though lemons have a lot of vitamin C in them. They were concerned about the acid content.

⭐Key Takeaway:

Many guinea pigs probably don’t like lemons because they’re sour and guinea pigs would rather have something sweeter or less sour. But, that’s fine, because cavies shouldn’t be eating them anyway, due to the high acid content.

Can Guinea Pigs Have Lemon Everyday? (Feeding Guidelines)

Guinea pigs shouldn’t have lemons at all, much less every day. In the rare instance that you feed your cavies someand they like it, you shouldn’t make it a staple part of their diet.

Once or twice a year is more than enough of this acidic fruit for guinea pigs to be eating – as a very occasional treat.  And that might be too much for some piggies with very sensitive stomach.

Honestly?

There are so many other safer, nutrient-rich foods that your cavies can eat that letting them chow down on lemons every day just isn’t a good idea.

For What It’s Worth, Here Are Some Nutritional Benefits Of Lemon

There’s plenty of benefits guinea pigs get from lemons, especially since they’re so rich in Vitamin C. And guinea pigs (like humans) need to make sure that they’re consuming enough Vitamin C every day.

Here are a few perks of eating them:

  • Promotes A Healthy Weight: Lemons are a low calorie food. The sugar content is low. So, your piggie wouldn’t gain much weight from eating the fruit. That said, it’s doubtful than any cavy would be able to eat very much in one sitting, due to the high acid content.
  • Protects Against Scurvy: Vitamin C is the guinea pig’s number one protection against scurvy (a disease that makes guinea pigs weak). Lemons pack a powerful punch in the vitamin C department, and they help protect guinea pigs from scurvy. The symptoms of scurvy are hair falling out, swollen joints, and guinea pigs can even die from it.
  • Nutrients Boost The Immune System: Lemons contain vitamins and antioxidants (like Vitamin B6 and A) that help keep your guinea pig’s skin, blood, eyesight, and bones healthy.

Nutritional Profile

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what nutrients lemons have in them. Because the massive acidic content overshadows any other benefits guinea pigs can get from that fruit.

But, I include table below to show your the nutritional profile for them – just in case you were curious.

This is the nutritional information for 100g of raw lemon without the peel, taken from the United States Department of Agriculture

Energy17 cal
Carb3.35g
Sugars6.76g
Fiber3.1g
Fat0.17g
Protein1.25g
Vitamin C6.5
Vitamin A108mg
Calcium52 mg 
Iron.83mg
Phosphorus28mg

As you can see, lemons tick most of the nutritional boxes for piggies. If it wasn’t for the  high acid content, guinea pigs would be able to eat them without a problem.

If you want some more information on what guinea pigs can eat safely, check out these posts: Will Eating Corn Hurt Your Guinea Pig? (You Need To Know!) and Will Eating Pumpkin Hurt Your Guinea Pig? (Find Out Now)

Safer Alternatives To Lemon

So guinea pigs need Vitamin C. But, lemons aren’t the only source of it. There’s plenty of veggies and fruits that have good amounts of Vitamin C and other vital nutrients.

Bonus! They won’t damage your cavies’ mouth tissue or eat away at their digestive system. Vitamin C doesn’t have to come at a cost.

And it doesn’t always have to be a citrus fruit. Some produce has more Vitamin C than lemons – varieties that you probably wouldn’t even consider. They’re just not heavily acidic.

Here are some fresh fruits and vegetables that you can consider giving your piggies:

  • bell peppers (yellow and green are fine; red is a bit sweeter – you can eat this daily)
  • mango
  • peas
  • kiwi
  • kale

Some of the foods from this list need to be eaten in moderation, because of their high calcium or sugar content. But, they can still be eaten more regularly than lemons.

Your piggies get a good dose of Vitamin C, without all the extra risks.  

can guinea pigs eat lemons

Can You Give Guinea Pigs Lemon Juice?

Lemon juice should not be given to guinea pigs. Their stomachs are not strong enough to handle it.

Fresh, clean water should be the primary form of beverage for your guinea pigs. And that should be an unlimited amount every day.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lemon Peel?

If you’re going to serve your guinea pigs lemon peel, make sure that you only do it about once a month.

Although the peel doesn’t have quite as much acid as the flesh of the, it’s still acidic. And we don’t want to give your fur babies anything that might cause digestive problems or give them mouth sores.

Can Guinea Pigs Drink Lemonade?

Drinking lemonade is out of the question for cavies. The high acid content would damage guinea pigs’ digestive system. Ang the high sugar content could cause your guinea pigs to become overweight if you kept giving it to them.

These two issues null and void the fact that the drink has Vitamin C in it. Just stick with water. It’s the healthiest option for your cavies.

Final Thoughts About Guinea Pigs And Lemon

Lemons are one of those sad fruits when it comes to guinea pigs. It has so much potential when it comes to piggie-nourishment, but guinea pigs just can’t stomach it as a daily option.

The high acid content can damage guinea pig’s mouth tissue and give them mouth sores. And their digestive systems and teeth would really take a beating from all the acid.

When it comes down to it, it’s better that you find other Vitamin C sources for your fur babies.

Feed your piggies a balanced, healthy daily diet.  Mke sure that they’re happy and cared for – that’s really all you need to do as a guinea pig parent.

And you can do it without serving them lemons!

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

FoodData central: Raw Lemon Without The Peel. (n.d.). FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167746/nutrients

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

Guinea pigs. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7171464/

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/

ThePetFaq. (2021, April 7). Alpaca Guinea pig breed profile: Origins, pictures, care, temperament & more! ThePetFAQ. https://thepetfaq.com/alpaca-guinea-pig/

What do I need to know about my Guinea pigs’ health? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-do-i-need-to-know-about-my-guinea-pigs-health/

Similar Posts