What Herbs Can Guinea Pigs Eat? (The Good, The Bad, The Tasty)

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You’ve been thinking of introducing herbs to your guinea pig’s diet. Good for you. It’s generally a good idea. But, maybe you’re not sure of what works and what doesn’t. Well, you aren’t alone – and that’s why you’re here to find out what herbs guinea pigs can eat.

Guinea pigs can eat a lot of different herbs. Some of these, like thyme, lemon balm, dill, basil, and fennel, are nutritious and good for them. Other herbs like chives are poisonous while sage is not recommended in large quantities.

a picture of a guinea pig wondering if he can eat some tasty herbs

To begin, giving guinea pigs herbs is typically a great idea. But, remember that your little friends usually have a huge appetite and will eat anything, whether it’s safe for them or not.

It’s up to you to know what works best for them and what is a no-no. Let’s get started!

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

What Are Herbs, Anyway?

a picture that says that guinea pigs can eat herbs and that they're a great way to supplement their diet
Just make sure you only give your little friends the safe ones.

Herbs are a type of plant that is known for its flavor and fragrance. People use them to make food taste better, or to make their homes smell nice. Herbs are not vegetables, but they still have important nutrients in them (that your furry potatoes can benefit from).

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Herbs don’t come from just one family of plants. There are thousands of plant species with many different uses. Most herbs are used for cooking, but some herbs are used for medicine and to kill insects.

Most herbs can thrive in a variety of conditions. However, if you choose to grow them yourself (as some piggie parents do), you should learn about their natural habitats so you can create similar conditions.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Herbs?

a message saying that most herbs are safe for guinea pigs as long as they don't eat too much
If you make sure you don’t overfeed them, a lot of herbs make great treats for your furry friends.

Yes, guinea pigs can eat herbs safely. In fact, many guinea pigs love having them as part of their regular diet. But you should only give them a small amount of herbs to avoid overfeeding and causing negative side effects like issues. And make sure that you avoid giving them herbs that aren’t safe to eat.

Guinea pigs have different tastes in food just like people do. What one guinea pig likes might not be what another one likes. You can try giving them the same food your friend’s guinea pig liked, but it might not work for your pet.

Typically, herbs are a good source of Vitamin C, which is important for a healthy immune system and development of skin and joints.

Guinea pigs definitely need Vitamin C in their diets (otherwise we’re talking scurvy city), because they don’t make it themselves. It’s up to you to provide your guinea pig with a healthy diet to ensure they have enough Vitamin C.

Herbs are a good way to add variety to your guinea pig’s diet. You see, no one would enjoy eating the same thing every day.

Neither do guinea pigs. Adding herbs to their diet will give them some variety to what they eat and be good for them.

Herbs offer vitamins A, C, and K. They also have potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, and phosphorous. So, your fur babies will get a well-balanced diet when you add different herbs to their food.

The food that your guinea pig gets will depend on the kind of herb you give them. They share some things in common, but the nutritional makeup of each herb is different. That’s why you need to make sure you know what your guinea pig can have.

So, what herbs are safe for your adorable little friend? Which ones should you avoid?

Let’s examining 20 herbs to help you pick out the ones that are ideal for your pet and a few common ones you should avoid.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Fennel?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat fennel. In fact, most guinea pigs will choose fennel over most herbs any day. The stems and leaves of this plant serve as the main point of attraction for guinea pigs.

Now, by feeding your guinea pig this herb, you’re enriching their bodies with vitamin c, calcium, fiber, and other nutrients, all important to keep your piggies in good shape.

Only offer fennel to your furry friend one or two times a week in small amounts. If you offer it more often, there is a higher chance that your furry friend will get bladder stones.

But just so you know, this ancient seasonal herb also contains some sugar. The levels are lower than in carrots, capsicum, and a few other foods people often offer their piggies.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cilantro?

Yes, you can also give guinea pigs cilantro. A little piece of this refreshing herb two or three times a week for cavies will offer them vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, iron, and folate.

But before you offer this low-calorie herb to your guinea pig, be careful with is the leaves. The leafy parts of the cilantro herb tend to attract soil than most other herbs. As such, before offering it to your adorable pet, take time to wash the leaves.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Thyme?

Guinea pigs can eat thyme safely, but in small amounts. It is a good idea to give them thyme because it is high in manganese and vitamin C. This will help keep their immune system healthy. However, there’s a high level of essential oil in thyme, which means it should only be fed to guinea pigs infrequently.

However, like with most foods, portion control here is vital. It’s best to give your furry friends only small amounts of fiber and calcium a couple times a week.

The amount of sugar in thyme here isn’t high. Neither is the caloric count. As a result, thyme can be a healthy snack for diabetic pigs.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dill?

Yes, dill is healthy for guinea pigs to eat. Dill is one of the world’s most nutritious herbs. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, manganese, calcium, copper, riboflavin, and zinc are a few of the many nutrients guinea pigs reap from this herb.

Only offer your guinea this herb’s leaves and stems. They have all the nutrients you need. The seeds shouldn’t be part of your guinea’s diet because they have high levels of starch and sugar. This can trigger or worsen diabetes, indigestion, and bloat in your little friend if they eat it.

The same applies to dry dill. Don’t offer dry dill to guinea pigs. It hardly packs any nutrients. In fact, dry dill is dangerous for guinea pigs in that it multiplies their chances of developing skin issues.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Parsley?

Yes, guinea pigs can safely eat parsley. Parsley is a good choice for guinea pigs because it helps their eyes, boosts their immune system, and makes them feel better. Parsley contains Vitamins A, B, C, potassium, and flavonoids.

But only give parsley to your guinea pig in small amounts. Too much parsley can be harmful to their health if you give it to them too often.

The oxalic acid in parsley is dangerous to guinea pigs in significant quantities and can cause diarrhea, stone formulation, and renal system failure. Renal system failure means that your cavy will have a hard time filtering toxins from its body.

Does this mean you shouldn’t give parsley to your guinea pig? No, as with all things in life balance is the key. In small quantities, parsley can be a very healthy herb for guinea pigs.

So yes, to play it safe, stick to 1 to 2 sprigs of parsley for your piggy at a time. You don’t want to feed more than that. You should have it come no more than two times a week and preferably not on consecutive days.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tarragon?

Yes, tarragon is safe for guinea pigs to eat. Tarragon has a sweet flavor that your guinea pig will love. Tarragon is also high in important vitamins like A and C. It also contains minerals like calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and iron.

All of the above nutrients are plus points for piggies. But that doesn’t qualify it as a staple food.

The high calcium level means tarragon shouldn’t be anything more than an occasional treat for guinea pigs. Only feed it in small amounts two to three times a week.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chives?

a picture of chives that says that guinea pigs should avoid the certain herbs tied to the onion family and even onions themselves because they're poisonous
Dairy products, meat, and rhubarb are off the cavy menu, too.

No, guinea pigs should not eat chives because they’re poisonous to them. Chives contain a compound that can cause blood abnormalities in guinea pigs and even kill them.

Chives come from the allium family. That’s the same family as onions and garlic. Just like siblings have similarities, plants in this category have a few similarities too. And yes, all plants in this category contain disulfides. Disulfides are a sulfur-containing compound.

Sulfur is a strong cleansing agent that can damage piggies’ red blood cell count and lead to anemia. High levels of sulfides can also disrupt the endocrine system (or hormonal system) of your fur babies.

Now, disulfide isn’t bad for humans. That’s why you can safely eat onions and garlic (or any other edible member of this family).

But that’s not the case with guinea pigs. So yes, don’t even think of offering a small amount of this herb to your piggies.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Mint?

Guinea pigs can eat mint stems and leaves safely. Even though it might not taste the best, mint is one of the healthiest herbs you can offer guinea pigs as a treat or side dish addition to their menu.

Mint contains calcium, potassium, folate, vitamin A, and vitamin C. However, it is not a good source of nutrients to replace your piggies’ regular food. That’s why you should only give your piggies mint as a treat every once in a while.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lemongrass?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat lemongrass safely – without developing health issues from it. Lemongrass has a lemon-like flavor and is safe for guinea pigs.

Lemongrass contains essential minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. It also has fiber and anti-inflammatory properties that are good for your guinea pigs.

Your piggies will also benefit from some minerals in lemongrass like manganese and potassium. The herb offers vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate. (Let’s hear it for the B vitamins!)

And yes, like most herbs, lemongrass is just as safe for your guinea pig to eat as it is for you.

But:

Too much lemongrass can give guinea pigs health problems. The citronella oil in the plant will harm guinea pigs when they ingest a considerable amount of it, while too much of it can be lethal.

Lemongrass is okay for adult guinea pigs to eat, but we recommend that you only give them a stalk or two per week. Baby guinea pigs shouldn’t eat lemongrass because they might choke on it.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Marjoram?

Marjoram is another herb that guinea pigs can eat safely without developing issues. Some piggies think that marjoram has a strong taste (and hate it), but it is still healthy for guinea pigs in small doses. So, if your little friend likes the taste of marjoram, you can work it into their diet.

The nutritional content of this herb is similar to most other herbs. This means that your piggy needs it in their diet, but you don’t need to give them a lot.

The herb should only be given to them twice a week, so they don’t end up with too much calcium in their system and end up with bladder or kidney stones.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Oregano?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat oregano. It’s filled with nutritious minerals that are good for them. However, as with marjoram, many guinea pigs aren’t fans of the bitter taste of oregano. But, if your piggies like it, then go ahead and give it to them.

Oregano contains calcium, potassium, B vitamins (like thiamin and niacin), and magnesium. It also contains the active ingredient carvacrol that can help fight off some bacterial infections in guinea pigs.

Typically, guinea pigs don’t like anything that tastes bitter. That’s why oregano is more likely to keep them away than attract them.

If your guinea pig seems to like the calcium supplement, give it only a small amounts at a time to avoid any side effects. You wouldn’t want your fur babies to end up with kidney or bladder stones from overfeeding them oregano.

Planning Your Piggie's

Meals Just Got A LOT Easier!

Our Wheekly Meal planner is designed to make it simple and fun for you

to create balanced and healthy

meals for your furry friends -

and they'll love you for it!

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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?

Yes, basil is a healthy and safe option for guinea pigs to eat. The numerous nutrients such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin K, and antioxidants found in this herb will boost the overall wellbeing of guinea pigs.

Basil is a low-calorie natural treat that contains a minimal amount of sugar. This makes it a healthy snack for piggies, and it will work just fine for diabetic guinea pigs and those putting on excess weight.

But only serve basil when raw. Cooked basil doesn’t contain many nutrients and can be difficult for guinea pigs to break down.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Spearmint?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat spearmint without it affecting their health. Like mint (peppermint), spearmint offers vital vitamins and nutrients that will keep your lovely pet healthy and happy.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbow for this herb. It can cause health issues when you ignore the feeding guidelines.

So yes, you must monitor the portion size and the feeding frequency and serve it twice a week at most.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lemon Balm?

Yes, lemon balm is a healthy option for guinea pigs to eat. The proteins, antioxidants, carbs, minerals, and vitamins in lemon balm are all a reason to have it come into your pet’s diet.

Lemon balm also doesn’t have cholesterol or fats. So, it won’t harm your piggies wellbeing even in the long haul.

However, belonging to the mint family, lemon balm has a strong flavor that some cavies might not like. But other than that, it’s a safe herb for guinea pigs in modest amounts.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Coriander?

Coriander is a safe food for guinea pigs to eat. Coriander – or Chinese parsley – serves as a perfect occasional supplement to your guinea pig’s regular food. And you always want to make sure that your piggie has a diverse and balanced diet.

Any part of this herb is okay for piggies in moderate amounts.

There’s not a lot of information (that I could find anyway) about the nutritional value of the roots. So, I’d say stick with the remaining parts of the plant when it comes to feeding your piggies.

Coriander is low in sugar and calories. It also has essential vitamins such as C, A, and K – all beneficial to piggies.

But they don’t come in the required levels. As such, your pocket friend will still need an extra bit of each of them from other sources. Make sure you mix in healthy leafy vegetables, hay grass, and pet pellets.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Endive?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat endive safely. Just make sure that you do not give them too much endive. Endive is a good source of antioxidants, which help to get rid of harmful things called free radicals. Free radicals can speed up aging and cause cancers.

This herb has antioxidants that help keep your piggies skin, heart, kidneys, eyes, brain, and lungs healthy. And it’s a good idea to give it to your fur babies.

If your little friends like it, just make sure that you do not give them more than a small amount at a time.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Bay Leaves?

Maybe your guinea pig can eat bay leaves. While in themselves aren’t bad for guineas, the flavor of these leaves isn’t something most guinea pigs will love. But if your rodent friend ends up liking this kind of taste, then it’s okay to have these leaves form part of their diet.

Bay leaves are popular for their plethora of culinary uses. However, their usefulness doesn’t end there. These leaves can also make part of healthy herbs for guinea pigs. When ingested, they will benefit your pet with vitamins A and C.

Your adorable friend will also get a fair share of iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium from these leaves, all essential for the pet’s general health.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chamomile?

Yes, guinea pigs can eat chamomile in moderation. Chamomile is a herb that is good for their digestive health and will help them to eat more. It’s also known to have a calming effect on some guinea pigs.

One fact about guinea pigs is that they are lovely gourmands. Animals are considered gourmands when they like to eat and eat, even when they are already full. This is a great thing about them, but can also be dangerous if not monitored.

Chamomile is a great plant to grow if you want to help your piggie friend stay healthy. It has a lot of nutrients that will help them, and it also has fiber which can help with digestive issues.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Sage?

There’s not a lot of research around how safe sage is for guinea pigs. Social proof says that very small amounts of sage leaves can be beneficial to piggies.

Since sage is high in essential oils, it isn’t the safest option for guinea pigs. But, it’s not poisonous either. Just don’t make sage leaves a “go-to” herb for your piggies. And if you do feed it to your little friends, limit the amount to one sage leaf once or twice a month.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Lavender?

Lavender is a safe herb for guinea pigs to eat. They’ll love the delicious scent and flavor of this herb. But make sure they don’t eat too much of it, because too much can be harmful. (It has lot of essential oils in it, so watch how much you feed your piggies).

Lavender is generally a safe herb. In fact, it’s even safe for humans, dogs, and other animals around the home. And while it’s full of helpful nutrients, it’s the scent and taste that appeal to most guineas.

But other than that, this herb has a calming effect, making it the go-to treat when your piggy exhibits signs of anxiety (just be sure you feed it in small amounts).

Can I Feed Herbs To My Guinea Pigs Daily?

No, don’t feed herbs to guinea pigs daily. Even the safest herbs aren’t okay to offer guinea pigs daily. Herbs are meant to be treats and not regular staples in a cavy’s diet. And as we all know, any treat should only be occasional.

Again, you might have noticed that most herbs have almost a similar combination of nutrients. But, your cavies need a wide variety of nutrients.

If you just feed herbs, they’ll miss out on some essential nutrients of other vegetables. Or you’ll end up overfeeding the herbs and your cavies will end up with health issue from having too much of a particular mineral or nutrient in the herbs you’re giving them.

So, don’t be tempted to feed your guinea pigs herbs daily and give them a wide range of veggies and fruits instead.

How Many Herbs Should I Feed My Guinea Pigs?

It’s best to feed your guinea pigs no more than 2 or 3 different herbs in one week. You’ll have to make sure that you’re not feeding them herbs that are all high in certain things like calcium or phosphorus to avoid negative health issues.

As a general rule, how many herbs to feed your little friends will vary depending on the type of herb and the unique dietary requirements of your guinea pig. But generally, herbs should only take a small percentage of your guinea’s food requirement.

While they are usually rich in nutrients, no single herb comes with everything your piggy needs for healthy growth. As such, unless under the instruction of a vet, don’t replace your piggy’s food with herbs.

How To Prepare Herbs For Your Guinea Pig

Herb preparation is important to make sure the herbs you give your guinea pig are safe. Follow the recommendations to make sure your guinea pig stays healthy.

When possible, make sure that your herbs are organic. This will help keep your cavies safe from the dangers of eating pesticides.

Fresh herbs are always a good choice for your little friends. They won’t cause any problems if they eat them, but certain dried herbs might. Make sure to give them fresh herbs from your garden.

Thirdly, wash the herbs. The first step to ensuring that you are safe when consuming organic herbs is to buy them.

However, this is not the only step you need to take. You will also need to wash the herbs with fresh water. This will remove any traces of pesticide, soil, microbes, and any other harmful elements likely to come with the herbs.

Finally, as a precaution you can chop the herbs into small pieces (if you’re concerned about choking hazards).

For baby piggies, the sizes need to be smaller than for adult counterparts. That’s because they have a narrower gut, so what the grown-up colleagues may handle could be a grave danger for them.

How To Introduce Herbs To Guinea Pigs

After you have cut the herb into smaller sizes, you will need to introduce it to your pet. Just like with preparation, how you introduce the herb can determine whether or not they will experience any side effects.

In this case, the rule of thumb is that you begin small, observe, and gradually increase the amount over time to the required quantity. By small, I mean you can think of feeding a single piece or two of whatever you are offering.

Keep an eye on your piggie for any side effects (like stomach pain or gassiness). Not all cavies are the same, so a herb that might be fine for one piggie might not suit another (just sayin’).

Monitor your piggie for up to 24 hours after giving it the new food.

If all is well, then you can add a little bit more after another day or two, and observe again.

You will continue this process until you reach the recommended daily amount for your guinea pig – usually a small amount of the herb 1 or 2 times a week.

Planning Your Piggie's

Meals Just Got A LOT Easier!

Our Wheekly Meal planner is designed to make it simple and fun for you

to create balanced and healthy

meals for your furry friends -

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Conclusion

As you can see, there are a variety of herbs that are safe for guinea pigs to eat and offer many benefits.

When it comes to the benefits, some herbs may offer more nutritional value while some may regulate your guinea pigs diet depending on what you feed them. These are a great treat and supplement for your piggies that help them stay healthy.

Always make sure to wash and chop the herbs into small pieces before offering them to your piggy, and start with a small amount to test for any potential side effects.

If all goes well, gradually increase the quantity until your guinea pig is getting the recommended daily dose.

But, always monitor your piggies when introducing new foods into their diet to ensure they are not having any side effects.

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Flushing Hospital Medical Center. (2015, April 1). The Benefits of Drinking Bay Leaf Tea. https://www.flushinghospital.org/newsletter/the-benefits-of-drinking-bay-leaf-tea/

Jess, D. (2021, May 21). Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil? Vet Explains Vet. https://vetexplainspets.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-basil/

Kennedy, A. (2022, Jan 8). Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cilantro?. We Are All About Pets. https://wereallaboutpets.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-cilantro

NC State University. (n.d.). Caring for your guinea pig. Retrieved from https://cvm.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Caring-for-your-Guinea-Pig.pdf

Pet Cosset. (2021, Dec 12). Can Guinea Pigs Eat Thyme? 5 Great Benefits and Risks. https://petcosset.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-thyme/

Rhodes, T. (2022, Jan 5). Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dill?. My Pet Guinea Pig. https://mypetguineapig.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-dill/

RSPCA Knowledgebase. (2019, October 1). What Should I Feed My Guinea Pigs? https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-should-i-feed-my-guinea-pigs/

Small Pet Journal. (2019, Jan 18). What Herbs Can Guinea Pigs Eat? (List of Good & Bad Herbs). https://www.smallpetjournal.com/herbs-for-guinea-pigs/

The Herb Society of America. (n.d.). Herb Gardening Basics. https://www.herbsociety.org/hsa-learn/herb-information/herb-gardening-basics.html

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

Witkowska, A., Price, J., Alibhai, A., Smith, D., Hughes, C., White, K., Rutland C. S., The Effects of Diet on Anatomy, Physiology and Health in the Guinea Pig, Journal of Animal Health and Behavioural Science, 2017.

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