Is It Safe For Guinea Pigs To Eat Turnip Greens? (You Need To Know)

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Guinea pigs need a snack to keep them from getting bored with eating hay all the time, but are turnip greens a healthy snack for them. Can your guinea pigs eat turnip greens?

Yes, turnip greens can be eaten by guinea pigs. Turnip greens are low in calories and contain a decent amount of Vitamin C, an essential nutrient that guinea pigs need for a healthy immune system and scurvy prevention. Nonetheless, offer turnip greens sparingly as the high calcium levels can cause kidney problems and several other issues.

a picture of a guinea pig wondering if he can eat turnip greens

Turnip greens are a healthy vegetable for your guinea pig. But it’s up to you if you want to give them to your fur babies pet. In this article, I’ll give you the goods and bad about feeding turnip greens to guinea pigs so you can decide for yourself.

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

What Are Turnip Greens, Anyway?

a tip that explains how guinea pigs can eat turnips

Turnip greens come from the cruciferous family, which also includes kale, spinach, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

(And in case you’re wondering, the turnips themselves are the small, white, spherical root vegetables.)

The leaves and roots of the turnip are both safe to eat and are full of nutrients. However, when we talk about turnip greens, we are referring to the green leaves on top of the root veggies.

Turnips are not a popular vegetable, but they have been around for a long time. People in the middle east and Asia first domesticated them. But now they’re pretty popular in Europe and other parts of the world.

Humans usually ditch turnip greens favor of the roots (which is fine, because piggies tend to like the roots more than the leaves). However, in some parts of the world, turnip greens are considered a delicacy.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Turnip Greens?

a decision tree that helps pet parents figure out if their piggies can eat turnip greens

Yes, guinea pigs can eat turnip greens but it’s important not to give them too much. Turnip greens are rich in essential nutrients and minerals that will benefit your guinea pig in many ways as long as you give them only a small amount at a time.

Yes, it is okay to give your furry friend turnip greens. They will get the vitamin C they need from the greens, as well as other essential nutrients like potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, and iron.

But again, as much as turnip greens have all these benefits, it’s worth pointing out that this piggie treat is also rich in calcium. In small quantities, calcium is actually good for your cavies’ health.

However, if you feed your guinea pig too much calcium, it can have a bad impact on their health.

So, what’s the secret to keeping it safe?

Well, if you’re patient enough, you’ll get to learn how you can make your guinea pig reap the benefits of turnip greens when dodging the side effects.

It’s easy!

But before we take you down that road, let’s look at some of the benefits and risks that come with feeding your guinea pig turnip greens.

Are Turnip Greens Good for Guinea Pigs?

Feeding turnip greens to your guinea pig is a good way to make them healthy and happy. As long as you follow the feeding instructions, your guinea pigs will be able to reap the benefits of the high nutritional value in turnip greens.

Feeding turnip greens to guinea pigs helps their heart health, immunity, and blood health. A small amount of this snack will help keep their weight at a healthy level and prevent them from getting scurvy.

1. Improves Heart Health

Turnip greens contain impressive amounts of potassium, a mineral with a good history of improving cardiovascular health and preventing heart-related issues.

(And let’s be honest, who couldn’t use an extra boost in that area?)

In guinea pigs, potassium will ensure that your pet’s heart has a healthy rhythm and that they don’t develop pericardial effusion, dilated cardiomyopathy, and other cardiovascular diseases.

When given turnip greens, guinea pigs can improve their overall health and increase their lifespan.

2.Boosts Immunity

A healthy immune system helps your guinea pigs deter common issues like respiratory infections, tumors, skin diseases, and other conditions. And it’s no surprise that turnip greens can help.

After all, this piggie treat is loaded with Vitamin C, a nutrient that’s essential for maintaining a strong immune system.

Even if you don’t feed your little friends turnip greens, it’s a good idea to give your fur babies foods rich in vitamin C. It’ll help them stay healthy and protect them from developing health problems.

3. Improves Blood Health

In guinea pigs, blood plays similar roles as it does in humans. It helps get oxygen to other organs, maintains a healthy body temperature, helps get the supply of nutrients to other parts of their bodies, and more.

Turnip greens can also help improve your guinea pigs’ blood health. This is because turnip greens are rich in nutrients like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus–all of which play an important role in maintaining healthy blood cells.

Anemia is a common blood disorder that can be caused by low levels of these essential minerals. Untreated anemia leads to other health problems like lethargy, weakness, and more.

Fortunately, feeding your guinea pigs turnip greens can help prevent anemia by boosting their iron levels. This will help ensure that their blood can carry oxygen to other parts of their bodies properly.

4. Helps Guinea Pigs Maintain Their Weight

Turnip greens are a low-calorie food. There’s 32 calories in 100 grams of raw turnip greens. This means your piggies aren’t likely to become overweight from eating them. Turnip greens are also a good source of fiber, which will help your pet feel full and stop them from overeating.

5. Scurvy Prevention

Scurvy, also known as hypovitaminosis C, is a common health condition in guinea pigs. Cavies can’t make their own vitamin C, so they need to get it from their diet.

If your guinea pigs don’t get enough vitamin C, they can develop scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include diarrhea, sluggishness, appetite loss, and more. If left untreated, scurvy can be fatal.

Scurvy pops up when your little friends goes quite a while – about two to three months – with inadequate levels of vitamin C.

But since turnip greens are rich in this vitamin, it’s safe to say that turnip greens help prevent scurvy and other issues.

What’s Risky About Feeding Turnip Greens To Guinea Pigs?

Feeding turnip greens to guinea pigs can sometimes cause bladder and kidney stones, diarrhea, renal failure, or food poisoning. But as long as you are careful with how you prepare the greens and don’t give them too much, your pet won’t develop any of these conditions.

1. Bladder and Kidney Stones

Bladder stones (or uroliths) and kidney stones are more prevalent in guinea pigs. The causes include genetic factors, poor urinary health, and even more likely – eating plenty of calcium-rich foods, for instance, turnip greens.

Some studies say that these “stones” are really just a build-up of calcium oxalate crystals on the bladder and kidneys. When they happen, bladder and kidney stones can cause pain and make things difficult for your guinea pig.

2. Renal Failure

If bladder stones and kidney stones remain untreated, they can eventually cause renal failure in guinea pigs. The renal system (think kidneys and ureters) is responsible for getting rid of wastes and regulating fluids in the body.

When renal failure happens, toxins can build up in the blood and cause serious health problems. This can lead to organ damage and even death.

It’s more common in elderly guinea pigs, although it can happen to any piggie suffering from urinary stones or any other urinary disorder. The clinical signs include depression, weight loss, lack of appetite, oliguria/polyuria, and several others.

3. Diarrhea

Anything can cause diarrhea in guinea pigs – depending on how it was fed to them. When it comes to turnip greens, diarrhea can be caused by two things: feeding too many turnip greens at once OR feeding turnip greens too frequently.

The best way to avoid this is to watch your portions when feeding turnip greens to your little friends and to make sure that you space out their feedings evenly.

4. Food Poisoning

Much like with diarrhea, food poisoning can happen with any food. If turnip greens aren’t properly washed and prepared, they can cause food poisoning in guinea pigs.

This can happen if the greens were grown in contaminated soil or water. Your cavies can get food poisoning if greens were not washed thoroughly before feeding them (note to self : always wash greens before feeding them to your guinea pigs).

How Do Turnip Greens Compare To Other Leafy Greens?

can guinea pigs eat turnip greens - a fact that explains that there's other greens that guinea pigs can eat

Turnip greens are healthier than some other vegetables when it comes to feeding your pet. They are high in fiber and low in sugar, which is good for guinea pigs’ health.

The table below compares the amount of calcium, fiber, and sugar in 100 grams of raw turnip greens to other similar foods (according to USDA).

GreensCalciumFiberSugar
Turnip Greens190mg3.2g0.81g
Mustard Greens115mg3.2g1.32g
Spinach99mg2.2g0.42g
Collard Greens232mg4g0.46g
Kale254mg4.1g0.99g
Beetroot Leaves117mg3.7g0.5g

Of the six vegetable treats, turnip greens are the third-highest in calcium, coming after kale and collard greens. They’re as rich in fiber as mustard greens are, with the fiber content of the two sitting between the two extremes. O

As far as sugar is concerned, mustard greens lead the category. Next is kale, with turnip greens coming third.

Nutrients In Turnip Greens

Now that you know how turnip greens compare to other vegetables, let’s take a more detailed look at what this treat contains and how it’ll help your piggies stay healthy.

According to USDA, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw turnip greens comprises the following:

  • Water – 89.7g. (The high water content will keep your pet hydrated and cool during the hot afternoons.)
  • Calories – 32Kcal. (Turnip greens are a good source of essential nutrients for your guinea pig without the risk of obesity.)
  • Protein – 1.5g. (A low protein diet is beneficial for guinea pigs because it helps their overall body development. This type of diet can also provide your pet with extra energy, without making them gain weight.)
  • Fiber – 3.2g. (The high amount of fiber in turnip greens is essential for gut health. In moderate amounts, dietary fiber helps keep your pet’s stomach running smoothly.)
  • Fat – 0.3g. (The low fat content in turnip greens is another indicator that they will not make your guinea pig grow thicker. Yes, while a lot of it is bad for cardiovascular health, a little bit of fat actually helps improve cardiovascular health.)
  • Sugar – 0.8g. (Sugar is necessary for your guinea pig’s brain health, and turnip greens definitely have a lot of it – more than some other vegetables. But don’t worry, the amount is low enough that it won’t cause obesity or suck your piggies into diabetes.)
  • Vitamin C- 60mg. (Yes, turnip greens are a good source of vitamin C. This nutrient is important for guinea pigs because it helps with their immune system, prevents scurvy, and works wonders for their skin health.)
  • Vitamin B6 – 0.263mg. (Vitamin B6 is important for your pet’s mood and overall health. It helps keep their blood vessels healthy and prevents clogs..)
  • Vitamin A – 579µg. (This is the nutrient that helps your pet’s eyes stay healthy. It makes their vision better and prevents eye problems in guinea pigs..)
  • Calcium -190mg. (Guinea pigs need this mineral to help their teeth and bones grow. However, the calcium content in turnip greens is high, so you need to be careful when you give these vegetables to guinea pigs to avoid urinary disorders – like renal failure.)
  • Iron – 1.1mg. (Iron helps pets avoid anemia, which is a condition where the pet doesn’t have enough hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is important because it carries oxygen..)
  • Magnesium – 31mg. (Regulates nerve function and helps in the formation of genetic material. It’ll also work with vitamin C and other nutrients in turnip greens to strengthen your piggy’s immune system.)
  • Potassium – 296mg. (One of the main causes of death for guinea pigs is cardiovascular issues. The mineral magnesium is the most dominant mineral and it’s good news for your pet’s cardiovascular health because it will maintain a healthy heartbeat and reduce the chances of cardiovascular issues.)
  • Sodium – 40mg. (The sodium in turnip greens will help keep your guinea pig’s muscles and nerves healthy. Sodium also helps control blood volume, which is important for a healthy guinea pig.)
  • Copper – 0.35g. (This mineral helps with blood cell formation and copper helps keep blood vessels, immune system, and nerves healthy.)
  • Zinc – 0.19mg. (Zinc is important for your guinea pig because it helps them know the difference between food and other things. Zinc also helps them with their sense of taste and smell. You might also notice that your piggies’ health has gotten stronger since zinc has been playing a role in that.)
  • Manganese – 0.466mg. (Even though it might seem insignificant, this mineral is important for many things, like blood clotting, sex hormones, and proper brain function.)

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Turnip Greens Every day?

No, guinea pigs shouldn’t eat turnip greens every day. Turnip greens are high in calcium, which can be bad for your guinea pig if it eats them too often. Only offer turnip greens occasionally to make sure your guinea pig stays healthy.

Although they are nutritious, turnip greens have a high level of calcium. If your little friends eat them too often, the calcium will build up in their body and can cause health problems, like urinary disorders and renal failure.

So, it’s important to only give them turnip greens every once in a while to make sure they stay healthy and don’t have any problems.

How Often Can Guinea Pigs Eat Turnip Greens?

Guinea pigs shouldn’t eat turnip greens more than twice a month. Depending on the age and health of your cavies, you might be able to increase the amount to once a week (for baby guinea pigs) or have to completely avoid serving it (if your piggie is sensitive to bladder stones).

So, it’s important to be mindful of how much and how often you’re feeding them these nutritious greens.

But generally, feeding guineas turnip greens about twice a month is fine. Two things though; don’t feed turnip greens with other high calcium veggies and offer tiny amounts each time.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Canned Turnip Greens?

No, guinea pigs cannot eat canned turnip greens. Canned turnip greens have preservatives, salt, and other unhealthy things in them. Offer only fresh turnip greens to guinea pigs because they’re healthier for them.

Veterinarians and experienced guinea pig owners will tell you that canned foods are never okay for guinea pigs. Cavies have sensitive body systems that can be harmed by canned foods.

So yes, the salt and preservatives in canned turnip greens are more than enough to stir up stomach issues and other health problems.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cooked Turnip Greens?

No, cooked turnip greens don’t make a healthy treat for guinea pigs to eat. Unlike humans, guinea pigs can’t digest anything cooked. Cooked turnip greens will cause digestive complications for guinea pigs.

No matter what you’re offering your guinea pig, always keep it raw. Sometimes cooking may come as an attractive idea. But make sure you don’t fall into it. Guinea pigs want their food – and snacks – only in its natural form.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Frozen Turnip Greens?

Frozen turnip greens aren’t safe for guinea pigs to eat. Since piggies have such sensitive stomachs, the extreme cold can cause them stomach pain and upset.

Plus, some veggies are blanched before being frozen which strips the nutrients away (and you know you want your guinea pig to get all the nutrients from the greens).

So, only offer fresh turnip greens that are at room temperature. It’s what’s best for your guinea pig’s health.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Turnip Soup?

Unfortunately, guinea pigs can’t eat turnip soup. It contains salt, spices, oil, and other dangerous ingredients for guinea pigs. Hence, avoid offering turnip soup to your guinea pig friend.

Almost all ingredients that are safe for humans can be harmful to your piggies. This includes salt, spices, and oil. So we should never offer turnip soup to guineas.

Can Guinea Pigs With Bladder Stones Eat Turnip Greens?

another tip that explains that guinea pigs with bladder or kidney stones should not eat turnip greens

Guinea pigs with bladder stones shouldn’t eat turnip greens. The high amount of calcium in turnip greens can worsen a kidney stone issue in guinea pigs. Don’t offer even the smallest amount of this veggie.

Guinea pigs are common pets that often get bladder stones. This happens because they eat a lot of calcium (and they can’t pee the excess out of their bodies), which is found in many vegetables.

So if your fur baby has bladder stones…or is sensitive to them, you should steer clear of turnip greens.

Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Turnip Greens?

Yes, baby guinea pigs can eat turnip greens but not as much mature guinea pigs. For baby pigs, offer them turnip greens at most once a week and ensure that you cut the greens into much smaller sizes.

Guinea pigs need the nutrients and minerals in turnip greens to help them grow stronger. For example, calcium will help them develop stronger bones and teeth. But wait until three or four weeks after birth before introducing them to any other solid food. Around this time, their piggie mamas stop nursing them and they can start to get interested in a bigger variety of foods.

Can Pregnant Guinea Pigs Eat Turnip Greens?

Yes, pregnant guinea pigs can eat turnip greens. They’re safe for pregnant guinea pigs to eat and contain high amounts of Vitamin C and other essential nutrients.

Adding turnip greens to a pregnant pig’s diet can help increase its nutritional value. When sows get to a certain point in their pregnancy, their daily requirement for vitamin C doubles. So, it’s a good idea to add some turnip greens as a special treat every now and then.

How To Introduce Turnip Greens For Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs can eat turnip greens, but you should introduce them slowly. Start with a small amount and offer it less often. If everything goes well, increase the amount and frequency to the set standards.

It’s important to keep a close eye on your guinea pig when you’re introducing a new food, especially if that food is turnip greens. Some pigs can have an adverse reaction to this type of vegetable – such as an upset stomach or diarrhea.

How To Keep Turnip Greens Fresh For Your Guinea Pigs

You can keep turnip greens fresh by spinning them in a salad spinner to remove any water or patting them dry with a paper towel. Then, repackage them into ziplock bags and keep them in the fridge. Make sure to leave a small opening in the bag for the vegetables to breathe.

Only wash what you are going to give to your pet. And yes, don’t offer turnip greens direct away from the freezer. After picking them from the fridge, give them some time to come back to room temperature.

What Kinds Of Leafy Greens Can Guinea Pigs Eat?

Guinea pigs can eat a variety of leafy greens, like kales, mustard greens, collard greens, beetroot leaves, spinach and more. But you should only offer each of these greeneries every once in a while and in moderate amounts.

Mustard Greens

They’re packed with vitamin C and other nutrients, which means they offer a lot of health benefits for guinea pigs.

Collard Greens

These vegetables are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. They will help your pig’s immune system, eyes, and skin health.

Spinach

Spinach is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin c. However, it’s less likely than most leafy greens to cause urinary stones.

Beetroot leaves

They are too high in vitamins, fiber, and other essential nutrients for your piggies’ health. But keep the intake level very minimal as they are high in calcium.

Kale

Kale is a healthy vegetable that provides various health benefits to guinea pigs. However, it contains more calcium than any of the other options on the list. So you need to be careful about how often and how much you give them kale.

What Greens Can Guinea Pigs Not Eat?

Guinea pigs can eat most greens, but there are some that they should avoid. These include canned greens, cooked greens, poisonous varieties like rhubarb, and greens containing few nutrients (I’m looking at you ice berg lettuce).

In other words, only offer raw, fresh, nutrient-rich, and non-toxic greens to guinea pigs. That will benefit them a lot.

What Foods Are Bad For Guinea Pigs?

Foods that are bad for guinea pigs include dairy, all kinds of meat, chocolate, mushroom, onion, garlic, potatoes, nuts, beans, avocado, other animal kibbles, gassy vegetables, green parts of tomato, and others.

Some of these foods are toxic, some non-beneficial, and others have long-term health effects.

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Things To Remember About Turnip Greens and Guinea Pigs

At the end of the day, you should always consult with your veterinarian about what’s best for your specific guinea pig. Every pig is different and will have a unique reaction to various types of food.

But as a rule of thumb, it’s generally safe to offer turnip greens to guinea pigs – in moderation. Just make sure that the vegetables are washed and dried properly, and offer them alongside a mix of other healthy foods.

Here’s a few other helpful tips about feeding turnip greens.

  • Consult your vet whether turnip greens are suitable for your pet.
  • Only offer turnip greens in minimal amounts and at most twice a week.
  • Baby guinea pigs can eat turnip greens after they are about a month old but less frequently than an adult cavy.
  • Cooked, frozen, and canned turnip greens are a no-no for guinea pigs.
  • Don’t offer turnip soups to guinea pigs.
  • Always go for organic turnip greens and ensure that you wash them thoroughly.
  • Don’t offer turnip greens to pigs with kidney or bladder issues.

Keep these things in mind and you’ll be able to offer turnip greens to your guinea pig without any problems. Remember, moderation is key.

Have you ever fed turnip greens to your guinea pig? How did they react? Let me know in the comments below.

AZ Animals Staff. (2021, October 27). Bladder Stones In Guinea Pigs: Everything You Need to Know. AZ Animals. https://a-z-animals.com/blog/bladder-stones-in-guinea-pigs-everything-you-need-to-know/

Brown J. (2016, July 21). Foods High in Potassium for Heart Health. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/atrial-fibrillation/diet/foods-high-in-potassium-for-heart-health/

Covington L. (2021, July 29). What Are Turnip Greens? Buying, Cooking, and Recipes. The Spruceeats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-turnip-greens-4774541

Health Benefit Times. (n.d.). Health Benefits of Turnip Greens.  https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/turnip-greens/

Hess L, Axelson R. ( n.d.). Health Problems in Guinea Pigs. VCA Animal Hospitals. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/guinea-pigs-problems

National Liberary of Medicine. (2022, February 18). Magnesium in diet. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm

New Plymouth District Vet Group. (2019, December 18). Care Of Pregnant Guinea Pigs. https://www.npvet.co.nz/pets/animal-info-pets/bird-rabbit-turtle-articles/care-pregnant-guinea-pigs/

The Unusual Pet Vets (n.d.). Urinary Stones and Sludge in Guinea Pigs and Rabbits. https://www.unusualpetvets.com.au/urinary-stones-sludge-rabbits-guinea-pigs/

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019, April 1). Collards, Raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170406/nutrients

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019, April 1). Kale, Raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168421/nutrients

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019, April 1). Mustard Greens, Raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169256/nutrients

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2019, April 1). Spinach, Raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168462/nutrients

Vet JC. Renal failure in a guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) following ingestion of oxalate-containing plants. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2006 Aug; 47(8): 787–789. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1524846/

Ware M. (2017, May 27). Everything you need to know about turnip greens. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/285961

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