Can Guinea Pigs Eat Napa Cabbage? (Explained Now)

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Just like other pets, guinea pigs love treats. You can give them a snack every day to show them you love them. But what you give them matters more than anything else. Some treats are good for guinea pigs, while others can cause severe side effects or even death. But can guinea pigs eat Napa or Chinese cabbage?

Yes, Napa or Chinese cabbage is a safe and healthy treat for guinea pigs to eat. This veggie contains enormous amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, all beneficial to guinea pigs. But before you offer it to your pet, knowing a few things will help you avoid the negative side of the treat.

a picture of a guinea pig wondering if he can eat napa cabbage

Guinea pigs will benefit from eating napa cabbage. This treat has a lot to offer these tiny creatures. But while it is beneficial, you must feed them this cabbage the right way. Sometimes making a mistake could harm your guinea pigs. Just follow these instructions to make sure you do it correctly.

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

What Is Napa Cabbage and How Many Names Does It Have?

Napa cabbage is a cabbage variety that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It has numerous names such as Chinese, cabbage, Wombok (English), Da bai cai (mandarin), Sui Choy (Cantonese), Hakusai (Japanese), Pechay Baguio (Filipino), Celery cabbage, and of course, Chinese cabbage.

Napa cabbage is native to the Beijing region of China, with its history dating back to 500 A.D. Initially, it was a more popular ingredient in East Asian dishes. But with time, this variety of cabbage has become a widespread vegetable across the United States, Australia, Europe, and several other parts of the world.

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The edible leaves are long and crispy. They are also tastier than those of green cabbage – in my opinion. And yes, it packs lots of nutrients and minerals than several other cabbage varieties, but more of what it offers will be coming later in the article.

What Are The Benefits of Feeding Guinea Pigs Napa Cabbage?

a decision tree that people can use to help them figure out if they should feed their guinea pigs napa cabbage
Use this decision tree to help you figure out if you should feed your guinea pigs Napa cabbage.

Feeding guinea pigs cabbage has a wide range of health benefits, from improving brain health to strengthening the immune system to supporting the heart health and bone development functions.

Napa cabbage has a better nutritional profile than some cabbage varieties. That’s why it’s increasingly becoming a favorite for guinea pigs and their owners alike. A tiny piece of this treat as an occasional supplement to guinea pigs’ regular food will go a long way to boost their overall well-being.

Let’s take a look.

1. Promotes Brain Health

Copper keeps neural pathways in the best condition and ensures healthy nerve development. Its other name – brain food – comes from its extensive ability to support mental health. Without enough of this mineral, your guinea pig will have an incomplete brain and nerve development.

But fortunately, copper is one of the most dominant minerals in napa cabbage. Hence, the idea of making napa cabbage part of your guinea pig’s diet will benefit their brains just as much as their taste buds.

2. Supports Immune System Health

Maintaining a healthy guinea pig immune system will keep your pet happy, reduce the number of vet visits, and save your wallet. The immune system is the first body defense when the body detects a foreign element.

Yes, the high levels of Vitamin C in Napa cabbage will help your fur baby’s immune system. Piggies don’t produce Vitamin C on their own, so you need to give them food that is rich in it, like Napa cabbage.

3.Supports Heart Health

When your guinea pig’s heart is healthy, your heart is at peace. Feeding guinea pigs Napa cabbage will equip them with potassium, one of the vital minerals their heart needs to stay healthy.

Vitamin B9, or folic acid, is another popular heart-health booster in Napa cabbage. Folate is important for keeping your cholesterol and homocysteine levels under control. This can help prevent heart problems in guinea pigs.

4. Supports Bone Development

Although often associated with bladder stones and kidney stones in guinea pigs, calcium is essential for healthy bones. This mineral will help guineas develop healthy bones and teeth, while phosphorus plays a central role in re-mineralization.

Now, napa cabbage offers both of these minerals to keep your pet’s bones in the best condition. One thing to beware of, though – too much calcium can be harmful to your pet’s health. As such, offer anything containing this mineral sparingly.

Risks To Consider When Feeding Guinea Pigs Too Much Napa Cabbage

can guinea pigs eat napa cabbage
Bladder stones and bloat are no joke for guinea pigs. Make sure you don’t overfeed them them wrong things.

Although Chinese cabbage is a healthy treat for guinea pigs, it’s important to feed them in moderation. Like any other snack, overfeeding can lead to health problems for your fuzz spuds. However, as long as you stick to healthy feeding habits, the risk of your guinea pig developing negative side effects from eating Napa cabbage is low.

Some of the health risks of feeding n=Napa cabbage include but are not limited to:

1. Bladder Stones and Kidney Stones

Some of the top health conditions for guinea pigs include bladder stones and kidney stones. These can form for a variety of reasons, but vets generally agree that they are caused by calcium carbonate precipitation. That’s when your cavies can’t absorb or excrete (like through pee) excess calcium from their body.

For this reason, it’s important to consider feeding your fur babies anything high in calcium with moderation. However, as long as you limit the portions of Napa cabbage and don’t feed them too often, they should be able to enjoy their favorite treat without any problems.

The fact that napa cabbage contains calcium (no matter how small) creates the probability of guinea pigs developing kidney and bladder stones from the treat. But as earlier said, there’s nothing to worry about when you do things in moderation.

2. Bloat

Guinea pigs can get a condition called bloat. This happens when gas builds up in their stomach from the reaction of food and digestive enzymes. If left untreated, it can cause severe pain and even death.

Bloat is more likely when you introduce your guinea pig to any new food, including Napa cabbage. Signs include anorexia, swelling around the rib cage, general weakness, low stool production, and sometimes breathing difficulties.

3. Food Poisoning

No, Napa cabbage doesn’t contain any poisonous element to guinea pigs. But you should still be careful because the leaves can carry bacteria, traces of pesticides, and other harmful toxins when eaten by cavies.

It is important to prepare (wash those cabbage leaves!) and feed Napa cabbage to guinea pigs the correct way. If you follow these instructions, the risk of food poisoning is low.

4. Diarrhea

Diarrhea in guinea pigs happens as a symptom of a disease or improper diet. Failure to follow feeding guidelines is the top reason Chinese cabbage will give your guinea pig diarrhea.

Sometimes diarrhea in piggies can come from seemingly small things. For example, if you give your little friends more of a food than they’re used to eating, it could give them diarrhea.

It might also even come with other nasty symptoms like lethargy, dehydration, abdominal pain, loose stools, sunken eyeballs, rough hair coat, and others.

Nutritional Facts for Napa Or Chinese Cabbage

Although it only delivers 16 calories per 100 grams of raw matter (as in stuff other than Napa cabbage), Napa cabbage is rich in nutrients. Most guinea pig nutritionists will tell you that it’s one of the most nutritious treats you can offer to your lovely guinea pig.

Below is a breakdown of its nutritional value per 100 grams.

  • Energy – 16 Kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 3.23g
  • Protein – 1.2g
  • Total Fat – 0.32g
  • Cholesterol – 0mg
  • Dietary fiber – 1.2g
  • Vitamin C – 27mg
  • Vitamin K – 42.9mcg
  • Vitamin A – 318IU
  • Sodium – 8mg
  • Potassium – 328mg
  • Calcium – 77mg
  • Zinc – 0.23mg
  • Phosphorus – 29mg
  • Manganese – 0.19mg
  • Magnesium – 13mg
  • Iron – 0.31mg

How Does Napa Cabbage Compare To Other Cabbages?

The table below will help us understand how napa cabbage compares with the other three common varieties; purple/red, green lead, and savoy cabbages. It points out the level of fiber, Vitamin C, and calcium per 100 grams of each as given by the USDA.

 FiberVitamin CCalcium
Napa Cabbage1.2g27mg77mg
Purple Cabbage2.1g57mg45mg
Green Leaf2.5g36.6mg40mg
Savoy Cabbage3.1g31mg35mg

Napa cabbage (chinese cabbage) is the variety that has the least fiber and vitamin C out the common cabbages in the table. However, it still has enough of both nutrients to be beneficial for your guinea pig.

Something you really need to note of is that it features more than double the calcium in savoy cabbage of the same quantity.

Bottom line?

Make sure that your guinea pig only eats a small amount of Napa cabbage. You can really ratchet up their calcium intake by feeding your piggies too much.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Napa Cabbage Everyday?

No, guinea pigs shouldn’t eat Napa cabbage every day. It’s filled with calcium which can cause bladder stones when in excess. Even when you give your piggies this veggie occasionally, make sure that you serve it with foods that are low in calcium like cucumber, carrots, endive, radicchio, and squash.

As much as it comes with a long list of nutritional goodies for the tiny loyal friends, Napa cabbage still has its fair share of downsides. But the primary concern here is that it has more calcium than several other varieties.

The best practice is to feed your pet napa cabbage twice a week. Avoid offering another calcium-rich food in the same week. If you do, substitute Napa cabbage with a low-calcium treat.

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How Much Napa Or Chinese Cabbage Can Guinea Pigs Eat? (Feeding Guidelines)

How much Napa cabbage guinea pigs can eat depends on the age and health of your guinea pigs. But generally, we recommend that you keep the quantities as low as possible to avoid any side effects.

Like every vegetable, there’s pros and cons to eating Napa cabbage .

✔ The good side of this veggie is that it has a lot of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, both beneficial to guinea pigs.

✔ And if given sparingly, can be a good treat for your piggies on special occasions.

✘ The cons of offering Napa cabbage as a treat are that it has a lot of calcium and can cause bladder stones if given in excess.

✘ If you give your guinea pig only Napa cabbage, it would lack other important nutrients like Vitamin A, protein, iron, etc., which should be included in their diets.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Napa Cabbage?

Some guinea pigs like cabbage while others don’t. This means that your pet might not like a food that someone else’s pet likes. Guinea pigs have different tastes. But from what I’ve seen and heard, most piggies enjoy eating Napa cabbage – once they’ve had a chance to get used to it.

Guinea pigs are like people. They don’t necessarily have the same taste in food.

The food that your neighbor’s guinea pig likes might not be the same food that your guinea pig likes. And yes, this also includes Napa cabbage. Not all guinea pigs will love this treat.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Napa Cabbage Leaves?

Yes, those long napa cabbage leaves are healthy for guinea pigs to eat. In fact, they are the edible part of this vegetable, considering that the core is a bit hard for guinea pigs and doesn’t contain anything special.

All the nutrients your guinea pig needs from napa cabbage come in the leaves. But before you proceed to offer the treat – remember to wash thoroughly and cut them into smaller manageable sizes by guinea pigs.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Napa Cabbage Core (Stalk?)

Guinea pigs eating napa cabbage core generally is not a good idea. This woody part may be hard for them to chew and it won’t be as good for them.

We humans don’t eat the part of the cabbage that is hard and in the middle. That is called the stalk or core.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Frozen Napa Cabbage?

No, guinea pigs shouldn’t eat frozen Napa cabbage. Since their digestive system is so sensitive, guinea pigs should avoid freezing cold foods and stick to foods that are room temperature or close to it.

Plus some frozen vegetables are blanched before being frozen. The intense heat will make this vegetable lose nutrients and become hard to be processed by your guinea pig’s digestive system.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Napa Cabbage?

No, canned napa cabbage isn’t safe for guinea pigs to eat. The canning process requires the use of preservatives and a lot of other potentially fatal chemicals once ingested by guinea pigs.

Since piggies have a habit of wasting food sometimes (picky, little stinkers), it’s normal that you would consider buying canned vegetables for them to eat. After all, it’s save money, right?

But, trust me. In the long run, it’s better to fork out the money for fresh veggies (even if some of them go to waste) than to have to shell out hundreds of dollars of vet bills from all those chemicals that can cause serious damage to their sensitive little tummies.

Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Napa (Or Chinese) Cabbage?

a tip that says that baby guinea pigs can eat more napa cabbage than adults because baby guinea pigs need more calcium
Guinea pigs babies and pregnant guinea pigs usually need more calcium in their diet than the average adult guinea pig.

Yes, baby guinea pigs can eat napa cabbage. But you’ll have to take several weeks before you introduce them to this tasty treat. Baby guinea pigs need calcium for their bones to develop, and that’s what makes napa cabbage a good treat selection.

After birth, baby guinea pigs need their mother’s milk for the first 2 to 3 weeks of their lives. Weaning could take up to four weeks, but is sometimes completed in 3. Introducing Napa cabbage around this time is fine.

Just make sure you introduce them to this treat very gradually. And be sure to wash the leaves thoroughly.

Can Pregnant Guinea Pigs Eat Napa Cabbage?

Pregnant guinea pigs can definitely eat napa cabbage but in small quantities. Napa cabbage contains vitamin C and is low in calories. As such, it will keep the immunity of the pregnant guinea pigs up to par without causing obesity.

Not all foods a regular guinea pig can eat are healthy for pregnant guineas. Some of these foods can make them gain weight, which is dangerous for their condition. But that’s unlikely with napa cabbage since it’s a low calorie, low fat veggie.

How To Prepare Cabbage For Your Guinea Pigs

Although preparing cabbage for guinea pigs isn’t a complex thing, it can be a source of trouble if you don’t follow the procedure to the letter. Poor preparation can mean new veterinary expenses and sometimes even the loss of your pet.

Follow this procedure to keep things on the safe side;

  • Step 1: Organic Is The Way To Go – Yes, organic greeneries are the best option. Sure, they aren’t 100% safe, but they are less likely than the inorganic type to cause issues for your guinea pig and are also healthier.
  • Step 2: It’s Never Clean Until Washed – While organic will likely not have pesticides and other farm chemicals, that doesn’t mean it’s free from all dangers. It could still be carrying dangerous bacteria like salmonella. To play it safe, take time and wash it thoroughly.
  • Step 3: Do The Chopping – Guinea pigs only need a small bit of any treat. But that doesn’t mean you can offer the whole of it without cutting. Take time and slice the cabbage into manageable sizes for your pet. For baby guinea pigs, keep the size as small as possible.

What Other Kinds Of Cabbage Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

a tip saying that guinea pigs can eat cabbage including napa cabbage as long as they eat plenty of hay
If you’re going to feed cabbage to your piggies, they have to be eating tons of hay to reduce the risk of bloat.

Guinea pigs can eat savoy cabbage, sweetheart cabbage, green cabbage, purple cabbage, and all other cabbage types. All these types are nutrient-rich and will benefit guineas in a variety of ways.

Let’s take a close look at each of the other cabbage types:

Can Guinea Pigs Eat White Cabbage?

White cabbage is safe for guinea pigs to eat and will benefit them in several ways, ranging from boosting immunity to reducing cancer risks to improving their cardiovascular health.

White cabbage also has fewer calories and is rich in fiber, meaning it will help overweight guineas lose weight by making them feel full longer.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Green Cabbage?

Green leaf cabbage also makes for a healthy treat for guinea pigs in moderate amounts. It has some bits of vitamin C. This nutrient will help guineas develop a strong immune system and remain safe from free radicals.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bok Choy (Pak choi)?

Bok Choy – or Pak Choi – is low in sugar and calories so it won’t cause diabetes and obesity for guinea pigs. It is also richer in vitamin C than green, white, savoy, and several other varieties, so it will keep guinea pigs healthy and help them develop properly.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Savoy Cabbage?

Savoy cabbage is high in fiber for a healthy digestive system in guinea pigs. It also has lower calcium levels than purple, green leaf, napa cabbage, and several other varieties, making it the least likely to cause calcium-related conditions. But beware of the high fiber content as it could make your piggy miss out on some essential nutrients by promoting the feeling of fullness.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sweetheart Cabbage?

This cabbage variety is to guinea pigs what it says – sweetheart! It is super-wealthy in vitamins K, folate, and other essential nutrients. Vitamin K maintains healthy bones and improves immunity.

But too much of this nutrient can cause the red blood cells to rupture. This could lead to anemia. Anemia is when the pet’s organs don’t get enough red blood cells to function well.

That’s why you need to always stick to small quantities when feeding this cabbage to your guinea pig.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Purple Cabbage?

Purple cabbage – or red cabbage – is the healthiest cabbage variety for guinea pigs. It contains impressive amounts of essential vitamins such as Vitamin C for overall well-being. It’s also low in calcium, so it’s unlikely to cause urinary stone issues. And as usual, moderation here is still essential.

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Final Thoughts

Of course, Napa (or Chinese) cabbage is a safe and healthy treat for guinea pigs to eat. This veggie contains enormous amounts of Vitamin C and Vitamin K, all beneficial to guinea pigs. But before you offer it to your pet, knowing a few things will help you avoid the negative side of the treat.

Now, in this post you’ve learned what other types of cabbage are safe for them too (such as savoy); which type piggies should stay should stay away, and some general information about how to prepare and introduce Napa cabbage to your little friends.

Just remember not to overfeed it, and make sure to offer a varied diet for your little friend instead. Get acquainted with what food can guinea pigs eat by reading one of our previous posts here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you’ve learned something new.

Don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family so they can enjoy it as well!

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Sleuth, G. (2020, July 24). Napa cabbage. Gourmet Sleuth. https://www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/napa-cabbage

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

The University of London. (n.d.). Hand rearing Orphaned Guinea Pigs. https://www.rvc.ac.uk/Media/Default/Beaumont%20Sainsbury%20Animal%20Hospital/documents/guinea-pig-hand-rearing-guide-RVC-March2020.pdf

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019, April 1). Cabbage, Savoy, Raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170388/nutrients

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2020 October 30). Cabbage, Green, Raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103341/nutrients

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2021, March 22). Vitamin K. National Institute of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-Consumer/

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