Can Guinea Pigs Eat Peanut Butter? (What You Need To Know)

It can be hard to resist the urge to give your pet a tasty treat. But, giving your pet a treat they’re not supposed to have can be dangerous – like peanut butter. 

Peanut butter should never be given to guinea pigs – not even as a rare treat. The thick texture makes it a choking hazard. Guinea pigs can’t easily digest the fat, sugar, and preservatives in peanut butter. Additionally, the calories and additives will make make guinea pigs overweight.

can guinea pigs eat peanut butter

Sadly, cavies can get very sick if you feed them the wrong things. So, it’s important to understand why food items like peanut butter can be very dangerous. 

Keep reading to learn more about why peanut butter is a snack you NEVER give your guinea pig.

Why Is Peanut Butter Bad For Guinea Pigs?

can guinea pigs eat peanut butter

Omigosh, where to begin? There’s several reasons why peanut butter is very bad for guinea pigs.

Let’s dive into the nutritional content of peanut butter to find the answers.  There really aren’t any health benefits for cavies.  

Most store-bought peanut butter is modified with additional ingredients like:

  • trans fat (gobs of it)
  • vegetable oils
  • tons of sugar

Eating too much fat and sugar is linked to tons of illnesses like obesity, diabetes, and other problems (that we’ll cover later).

There’s a snapshot of the nutritional breakdown of peanut butter in the table below.

But, honestly, the sky-high calorie and oil content tell the whole, sad story.

A two tablespoons of peanut butter has: 190 calories, 15  grams of fat, and 3 grams of sugar.  That’s a lot for any piggie to be eating! 

The table shows the nutritional breakdown of two tablespoons of peanut butter.

Calories188
Protein7.2 g
Saturated fats3.05 g
Monounsaturated fats6.63 g
Polyunsaturated fats3.63 g
Carbohydrates7.67 g
Fiber1.80 g
Sugars3.26 g
Calcium15.7 mg
Iron0.69 mg
Magnesium57 mg
Phosphorus107 mg
Potassium189 mg
Sodium152 mg
Zinc0.813 mg
Niacin4.26 mg
Vitamin B-60.142 mg
Vitamin C0g
Vitamin E2.92 mg

Plus, it doesn’t have any Vitamin C.  And Vitamin C is necessary for piggies to avoid scurvy (which is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency).

Keep in mind that guinea pigs can get very sick if you give them too many calories . Your cavy needs pellets or hay as their main source

Think about it this way. Even if you feed your guinea pig a little bit of it, it’s like you’re letting them gorge on an entire chocolate bar. Not good.

“Aquita, what about feeding a little bit here and there?”

Why isn’t feeding a little bit here and there OK?

Because you don’t want to shorten your piggie’s life. If you feed your pet fatty, sugary foods like peanut butter that have a high calorie count (even infrequently), that’s what’s going to happen.

And this is up to you.

It’s not like your cavies can tell you, “Hey, I’ve had enough of this peanut butter. Can you get me something healthier instead?”

Don’t play fast and loose with your pet’s health. Your cavies rely on you to make the best decisions for their health and well-being.

OK, we’ve established that it’s bad to feed too feed even a little bit of peanut butter – even as a rare snack or treat.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what could happen if you do choose to feed

Risks Associated With Feeding Them Peanut Butter

can guinea pigs eat peanut butter

Previously, you saw the nutritional content of peanut butter (pretty much anything peanut butter related has high fat content).  

In this section we will look at some risks that can arise from eating too much or too often.

And you’re going to see why the damage that high-fat content (and sugar content and basically everything unhealthy content) can do to your little friends.

1. Allergic Reaction

Even with healthy fruits and vegetables, it’s best to introduce the food slowly – just in case your piggie’s system has a bad reaction to it.

This is usually because your cavy’s digestive system hasn’t had a chance to get used to the food.

Well, in the case of peanut butter, you don’t want your fur babies to get used to it.

It also has additives in it that aren’t good for guinea pigs to eat.

They can’t easily digest it, plain and simple, and that’s why you should never give them the stuff.

This is especially true for any commercial brand.

2. Digestive Issues

Some foods make their digestive system work too hard. One of these is peanut butter – that’s why it should be avoided.

The fiber, sugar, and fats that it contains has your piggie’s digestive system working overtime, especially if they eat it in large amounts.

Fiber can cause a lot of problems if it doesn’t come in the form that your piggie’s body needs.

Too much fat and sugar in your furry friends’ diet also leads to stomach pain as well as loose stool or gas for your pet – that can be fatal.

Thinking about adding a piggie to your family or want to brush up on the essentials? Gotcha covered. What you need is a reliable, “all-in-one” resource to refer to when you’re struggling. A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide To Guinea Pig Care is a starting point with all the basics and more to get you on your way!

3. Choking Hazards

Peanut butter is also a choking hazard for guinea pigs. It’s the texture of peanut butter that’s the problem.

It’s much too thick and sticky for your piggie to handle in large amounts. And we all know how greedy our piggies can be, don’t we?

Did you know that guinea pigs can’t vomit?

So, if your cavies do get some peanut butter stuck in their throat, they’ll need some help clearing it away. And that’s sure to be a traumatic experience for the both of you (seriously!).

Bottom line?

Peanut butter is not a safe food for guinea pigs.

4. Selective Feeding

So, you know how a toddler refuses to eat anything, but you can get them to eat a cupcake? (Yeah, I’m making an analogy here)

In the same way, guinea pigs will often eat some types of food that they like and refuse to eat when offered other things.

So, let’s say you decide to let your piggies try peanut butter on the regular – and they love it.

Eventually,it’s possible that they’ll refuse the good food the need to survive, healthy food (like hay and veggies), because they’ve developed a taste for peanut butter (uh, oh).

So, what should you do?

Easy.

Don’t feed them peanut butter. Then you won’t have to fight so hard to get them to eat a well-balanced diet.

5. Obesity

Feeding your piggies peanut butter regularly is just going to get them fat.

Point blank. End of story.

Your cavies need proper guinea pig foods (e.g. hay, pellets, fresh produce) to be healthy.  Obese guinea pigs end up with all sorts of health problems like:  

  • reduced quality of life, because they’re not able to move around as easily (too much weight causes joint pain, back pain, and hinders mobility)  
  • sluggishness, because your piggie won’t won’t too move as much if it’s chubby
  • diabetes, because obese guinea pigs are prone to developing diabetes.  
  • heart problems, from all the extra weight around their hearts which puts more strain on it and can lead to cardiac arrest  

So, do your furry friends a favor and feed them a green, leafy veggie or some hay , and keep the peanut butter for yourself.

You might be thinking: ‘but my guinea pig ate peanut butter and lived’. Yes, a lot of guinea pigs survive eating peanut butter once or twice. But, making it a habit can lead to chronic problems, like the ones I’ve mentioned. If your goal is to have a happy and healthy guinea pig, avoid feeding him (or her) peanut butter.

What To Do If Your Guinea Pig Accidentally Eats Peanut Butter

can guinea pigs eat peanut butter

Did your guinea pig stumble on that spoonful of peanut butter that you dropped on the floor while you were trying to clean up the kitchen?

Don’t panic! Just follow these steps:

  • Remember that although it’s very unhealthy for your piggie, peanut butter isn’t toxic. Your little friend isn’t going to keel over after a couple of nibbles.
  • Look for signs of choking. If your guinea pig is still breathing like normal, you’ve passed the first step. If they’re having a hard time breathing, you’ll need to check their throat for blockages.
  • Monitor your piggie closely. You’re looking for digestive issues such as: excessive bowel movements or constipation. There might be a little stomach upset on the first day, but the symptoms should subside after that.

Make sure your guinea pigs diet stays balanced with unlimited hay, fresh vegetables and water, and Vitamin C – enriched piggie pellets.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Plain Peanuts?

It’s a huge mistake for pet owners to feed a guinea pig peanuts.

Guinea pigs can’t and shouldn’t eat nuts. They don’t have the necessary digestive system to handle them.

The high calorie, fat content of peanuts will seriously hurt their delicate stomachs and throw their digestive systems into straight chaos (I wish I were joking, but it’s true).

This shouldn’t be fed occasionally. Peanuts shouldn’t even be fed as a rare treat. The risks outweigh the benefits.

There’s also a risk that guinea pigs can choke on larger pieces of peanuts. So, avoid feeding your guinea pig peanuts, peanut butter crackers, or even peanut butter. Oh, and leave the peanut shells alone, too.  They’re no good either.

You don’t want to do anything to make your guinea pig sick.

How To Safely Give Your Furry Friends A Treat They’ll Enjoy

So, I’m not the guinea pig treat killjoy. I’m just saying that if you want to treat your herbivorous pet with something yummy, there are safer alternatives than peanut butter.

I’m not denying that some guinea pigs love peanut butter (and I’ve watched Youtube videos of them eating it in horror ). But, the consequences aren’t worth it.

So, stick to treats that won’t harm your little friends – preferably ones that are high in Vitamin C.

And by “treat”, I mean something that can be fed in small portions once a week or twice a month.

Some examples include:

Each fruit has certain feeding guidelines as well as their own set of pros and cons. But, as long as they’re fed in moderation, they’re perfectly safe – unlike peanut butter.

You can even mix things up by feeding your furry friends green veggies as their treat.  Some piggies don’t consider a sweet treat something special.  They actually prefer fresh veggies instead. 

And I say, feed them the fresh veggies. 

I mean, if your piggies are gonna go crazy over a variety of vegetables, then that’s a serious win-win situation.

It’s best that you only offer your cavies appropriate treats only once a week or every other week. This will depend on how much hay they eat daily as well as their age and activity level (the older and sicker the guinea pig, the less likely it is that they need the treats).

Make Sure Your Piggie Has A Healthy Digestive System

Want your piggies to have a healthy digestive system? Of course, you do!

Cavies have digestive systems that need specific foods to stay health and in good working condition.

This can cause them to get diarrhea if you feed them the wrong treat (such as a high-fat treat like peanut butter).

Remember, they’re herbivores so food needs to pass through their gut quickly and digested properly (or else it causes them to have gas, diarrhea, and stomach pains).

To help out your fur babies with this, make sure you:

  • feed them a diet that’s high in fiber (unlimited hay will do wonders)
  • supplement their diet with produce (veggies and fruits) that are high in fiber and other important nutrients like Vitamin C and K
  • limit the amount of treats you give them
  • make sure they get plenty of exercise every day ( a large cage and toys that encourage movement are the best way to do this)
  • buy the highest quality pellets you can afford; some less quality pellets have a lot of fillers, by-products, and other ingredients that aren’t good for cavies

You need to feed your pets a diet that is high in fiber, give them some produce, and limit the number of treats they get. You also need to give them exercise every day

7 Foods That Can Kill Your Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are a popular pet, but they’re also very sensitive to their diet. The wrong food can lead to health problems and even death for your guinea pig.

Most foods just need to be served in the proper portions and in on the right schedule. However, certain foods can be deadly to guinea pigs, even in small amounts.

Here’s what you need to know about 7 foods (and this isn’t even an exhaustive list) that can kill your piggies (or at least make them seriously ill):

  1. Meat: Since guinea pigs are herbivores, they should not eat any meat. Meat can cause digestive problems, and when it’s fed in excess, it also increases the risk of kidney failure.
  2. Chocolate: Chocolate can be fatal to your guinea pig when given in large amounts. The best thing you can do for your pet is keep it away from chocolate, period.
  3. Avocados:
  4. Raw Potatoes: Everything about raw potatoes is dangerous for your piggies to eat. (I have heard of some pet parents feeding cooked potatoes to their piggies without any issues. But, I don’t have much experience with it.
  5. Dairy products: Anything made with milk, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, or butter can cause digestive problems and make your guinea pig very sick.
  6. Rhubarb leaves: It contains oxalic acid and this means that guinea pigs cannot eat rhubarb. The fruit is very poisonous to them, and if they don’t die from the toxic dose then it could make them sick.
  7. Any human snacks: This includes Twinkies, potato chips, and other human foods that are straight up junk. These snacks have been known to cause digestive problems in guinea pigs, so you should avoid giving them to your piggies.

Final Thoughts

If you have a pet guinea pig, make sure they don’t eat peanut butter. It’s just not good for them.

They need a proper diet, and if you feed it the wrong things, they could have digestive problems or die.

Guinea pigs need to eat appropriate amounts of hay and other plant-based foods instead of high fat food like peanut butter.

They also can’t digest the sugars and preservatives in it very well which could make them sick if they consume too much.

Make sure your furry friend is getting all the nutrients he needs by feeding him fresh veggies, fruit, high-quality guinea pig pellets and fresh water.

If you’re going to feed your piggies a treat – make  it a healthy treat.  One with a good source of Vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients.  

That way you won’t have to worry about extra weight gain or your little friends getting sick from what you’ve fed them. 

Your little friends are depending on you.

You got this!

Caring For Your Guinea Pig: Basic Husbandry. (n.d.). Pender Vet Animal Hospital • Fairfax, Chantilly & Manassas | Animal hospitals and pet boarding for dogs, cats, and exotics in Fairfax, Chantilly, and Centreville, VA. https://pendervet.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/EXOTICS_GuineaPigCare_May6.pdf

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

Peanut Butter, Smooth: FoodData central. (n.d.). FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/324860/nutrients

Peanut butter: Is it good for you? (2020, September 30). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/peanut-butter-good-for-you#2

Peanut butter: Is it good for you? (2020, September 30). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/peanut-butter-good-for-you#2

Petco. (2021, July 27). Guinea pig care: What can Guinea pigs eat. Pet Supplies, Pet Food, and Pet Products | Petco. https://www.petco.com/shop/AjaxContentNavResultView?catalogId=10051&langId=-1&storeId=10151&contentPath=/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/food-nutrition/guinea-pig-care-diet-and-feeding-tips.html

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