If, like me, you love eating healthy foods, you probably eat broccoli often, right? Broccoli is enriched with great nutrients, for example, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and many more. But can guinea pigs eat broccoli as you do?
It’s a controversial question among many, but I’ll share the truth here.
Guinea pigs eat non-frozen or boiled broccoli; it's a great source of vitamins C, E, and K and fiber. Frozen broccoli loses a lot of nutrients hence hard to digest. Also, boiled broccoli loses at least 50% of Vitamin C. Only feed guinea pigs raw broccoli once or twice a week as it can cause bloating.
Keep reading; you’ll be amazed at how much your guinea pig can benefit from a broccoli meal. However, be aware of the precautions, too. I’ll discuss them below.
Let’s get started.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Broccoli?
Broccoli is a perfect fit for your guinea pig to eat as a treat but not as a daily meal. It falls in the category of cruciferous vegetables and is nutrient-dense.
Broccoli, a fibrous green veggie, is suitable for your guinea pig because it has valuable nutrients such as vitamins C, E, K, and fiber. Besides, it’s also rich in oxalates and calcium.
When given in large quantities to guinea pigs, oxygen and calcium might cause health problems, including bladder stones. Hence, as with strawberries, being cautious with how much broccoli you give your piggy is vital.
So, feed your piggy a standard or balanced commercial meal. Hay is the best daily balanced meal for your guinea pig.
Once weekly, add a broccoli floret (full-size) to his balanced diet.
Avoid boiling broccoli; you shouldn’t eat it, either! That kills most nutrients and only leaves you with an unhealthy veggie! So, thoroughly wash the raw broccoli and give it to your guinea pig.
Like most treats, start with a small portion, probably your fingernail size, and watch your piggy’s reactions before feeding him more broccoli. If you notice that he is having a problem with it, please avoid giving him the veggie again and look for guinea pigs’ alternative sources of vitamin C.
Another safe thing to do is to add other safe vegetables into his diet to lower possible adverse reactions to broccoli. But even then, give only a tiny amount of this cruciferous veggie.
Keep reading to learn more.
6 Health Benefits of Feeding Guinea Pigs Broccoli
Your guinea pig will benefit if he feeds on broccoli because it is rich in many nutrients. Some of the nutrients found in broccoli that we shall discuss below include:
- Vitamin C
Let’s discuss their health benefits to your piggy’s body.
Broccoli is highly rich in vitamin C, which your guinea pigs need for normal development. Guinea pigs could have serious health problems, such as connective tissue breakdown without vitamin C.
Consequently, your guinea pigs could become lame due to swollen joints that could also be incredibly painful. This happens when they suffer from scurvy.
When guinea pigs suffer from scurvy, they begin to lose their hair. Also, guinea pigs become lethargic and picky eaters due to loss of appetite caused by vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C deficiency also causes dental problems and skin sores in guinea pigs. So, besides feeding your piggy peas and strawberries, do also feed him broccoli.
Compared to most other veggies ideal for your piggy, for example, strawberries, tomatoes, and oranges, broccoli has more vitamin C. 100 grams of broccoli provides your pet guinea pig with about 89.2 mg of vitamin C.
Though broccoli doesn’t tend to choke guinea pigs, as mentioned, it might cause gas issues. That’s why it shouldn’t be your primary source of vitamin C for pet guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs need calcium in their diet. Broccoli is a good source of calcium and aids in the normal and healthy growth of a guinea pig’s teeth and bones. Be warned, though, because large quantities of calcium-rich foods would harm your piggy as they increase the chances of having urinary tract stones.
Thankfully, broccoli isn’t high in calcium. So, still worth giving it to your pet.
Guinea pigs need fiber in their diet because it has various health benefits:
- Boosts the digestive system; hence, the gastrointestinal tract functions well
- Helps keep the bacterial flora in the gut well-balanced
- Maintains an excellent grinding motion, which helps keep the right teeth length in pet guinea pigs
While too much of a thing could have adverse health effects, feeding enough broccoli in a week could have numerous health benefits. Though fiber is ideal for digestion, keeping your guinea pig hydrated throughout the day is wise, especially during summer.
If, however, you’re looking for an alternative source of fiber apart from broccoli, consider buying hay.
When your guinea pigs lack magnesium in the body, there are a few health problems you should expect: their growth slows down, the hind limbs become stiff, the occurrence of soft tissue begins, and the incisors soften and decay.
In addition, the molar teeth of your guinea pig begin to erode and overgrow, and your piggy also experiences stiffness in the mandibles.
Therefore, unless you notice some adverse reactions, let your guinea pig emotionally experience your love through a weekly broccoli treat.
The fact that guinea pigs need lower protein than fiber doesn’t mean the protein shouldn’t be included in their diet. Your adult guinea pigs need approximately 16% to 18% protein.
According to the National Library of Medicine, plants are arginine-rich, which is highly beneficial in the normal growth of guinea pigs. Therefore, besides giving your piggy other protein alternative foods, consider giving him a small portion of broccoli to break the boredom from his weekly meals.
In order to keep the internal organs of your guinea pigs, for example, kidneys, heart, and lungs, functioning correctly, you need to feed them with enough potassium.
So, broccoli keeps heart-related diseases away. Therefore, instead of your guinea pig chewing toilet rolls, feed him a small portion of broccoli at least once a week. Twice a week, especially if the piggy is expectant.
Below is an infographic showing more nutrients found in Broccoli.
3 Potential Hazards of Guinea Pigs Feeding on Broccoli
Remember what I said? Broccoli falls on the list of cruciferous vegetables. If your guinea pig feeds on too much of it, he will likely have serious issues.
You can tell that your guinea pig has a health problem, for example, a stomach ache, if he suddenly becomes lethargic, urinates blood, or has uneven urination, among others (as we shall see below).
Some common adverse reactions you might notice after feeding a guinea pig (too much) broccoli include:
- Gas and bloating
- Bladder and kidney stones
Guinea pigs can eat alot of broccoli if the portion is not controlled. Your work as their parent is to control how much they eat weekly. Too much (or if your guinea pig becomes allergic to) broccoli may cause constipation.
This means his digestive system is unable to digest food well. As a result, he might have diarrhea. You might also notice that the once playful piggy is suddenly sluggish! Constipation also makes your piggy unwilling to eat, making his fur coarse.
To avoid constipation, always ensure your piggy has enough drinking water for hydration, and feed him a well-balanced diet every day. Let broccoli be part of his meal only once or twice a week, at least one full-size floret, not more.
Gas and Bloating
It feels uncomfortable when the stomach becomes bloated, right? Your guinea pigs feel the same. It can even turn deadly if bloating is extreme! When your piggy’s tummy is full of gas or air, his abdomen swells, and he becomes inactive and unwilling to move. Sadly, guinea pigs don’t eat if they have a bloated tummy.
Besides, when bloated, your guinea pig feels excruciating painful spasms on one side (sometimes on both sides) of his belly. Since extreme gas or air can cause shock, which could kill your guinea pig, offer some fast aid as you seek medical attention from a qualified vet.
To offer him some relief and save his life, isolate your piggy and give him a pre-made sugar solution; it helps prevent shock. Use a syringe or an eyedropper to give him the solution.
If your vet is coming, allow your pet to rest in a comfortable piggy cage where you can monitor him closely.
If you’re to take him to the vet, take him after he has taken the solution. This helps him to get some relief before he gets to the vet.
So, broccoli is one of the vegetables that cause bloating in guinea pigs, and hence, it can become a deadly treat if you don’t control the portion he takes or if you introduce it to him in large portions. Therefore, be on your guard.
Bladder and Kidney Stones
As mentioned, if your piggy becomes allergic to broccoli, he will have kidney and bladder stones. The same is the case if he feeds on too much of this delicious cruciferous veggie. The veggie causes calcium oxalate stones.
It’s, therefore, a good discipline to only feed him what is safe for him and not what he needs.
When your piggy suffers from kidney and bladder stones, he urinates unevenly and is lethargic. He will also be incontinent, urinate blood, and have inflamed skin around his genitals. You might also notice that he is beginning to lose weight.
Seeing your guinea pig go through any of these adverse reactions is scary enough to remind you that you should NEVER give your guinea pig an excessive amount of broccoli.
Nevertheless, if you notice one or all of these symptoms, you must call your vet immediately!
If you have many guinea pigs living in the same cage, please ensure that they feed on broccoli separately to avoid cases where one piggy will eat more than the recommended amount.
“Better safe than sorry!”
Can I Give My Guinea Pig Boiled Broccoli?
You cannot give your guinea pig boiled broccoli! As I mentioned, boiling broccoli only destroys nutrients; for example, boiling makes your broccoli lose approximately 50% of vitamin C.
This means your guinea pig won’t benefit from the broccoli treat, at least, not nutritional-wise!
That’s what happens when you also eat boiled broccoli! So, avoid it.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Raw Broccoli?
Guinea pigs can eat raw broccoli. Raw broccoli is more nutritional and better to digest than cooked one.
So, you should avoid feeding a guinea pig any cooked broccoli. Therefore, avoid baking, steaming, frying, or boiling broccoli meant for a guinea pig.
Also, don’t add flavors. Let the broccoli be 100% natural with no additives.
How Often Can You Give Guinea Pigs Broccoli?
You can only feed your guinea pig broccoli once, utmost, twice a week. As mentioned, managing the quantity is not an option but a necessity. Therefore, only give him one full-size floret a week or twice a week.
If you want more treats for your guinea pigs, consider buying other healthy and safe broccoli alternatives.
Can I Feed Guinea Pigs Frozen Broccoli?
I understand you want to ensure enough broccoli for your guinea pig, even during the off-season. But be warned, freezing broccoli is not a great way of caring for your guinea pig, and here’s why:
When you freeze broccoli, it loses its nutrients, mostly vitamin C. So, frozen broccoli could lose up to about 20% or more of vitamin C, denying your piggy the chance to get the nutrients their bodies cannot produce.
Also, frozen broccoli might have a different nutritional value, negatively affecting your piggy’s health due to nutritional imbalance.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Brocolli Leaves?
Guinea pigs eat any part of the broccoli plant, including the broccoli leaves, stems, and florets. Actually, it's the leaves that contain more nutrients; for example, they have more vitamin A, calcium, and folate.
Therefore, you need to feed guinea pigs broccoli leaves sparingly as they could cause them to have bladder stone problems. This is due to the high calcium levels, which pet guinea pigs cannot digest easily.
One small broccoli leaf would be sufficient for your piggy if fed once a week or bi-weekly.
Feeding guinea pigs broccoli is optional, but how much they should have is not. Overfeeding your guinea pig broccoli or introducing it to him in large quantities might make him develop bladder and kidney stones, constipation, gas, and bloating problems.
However, broccoli has excellent health benefits for your piggy; hence, unless he has some adverse effects, offer him some once or twice a week. As we’ve seen, some beneficial nutrients in broccoli include vitamin C, potassium, protein, calcium, fiber, and magnesium.
Are you a guinea pig parent? Keep the discussion going: Can guinea pigs eat broccoli?