Some people think that since guinea pigs look like small dogs, their similarities extend beyond appearances. However, there are many differences between these two species. For example, a guinea pig has no canine teeth, whereas a dog does.
Additionally, the two animals have different operating digestive systems. Besides, guinea pigs do not drink water as much as dogs do.
That said, can guinea pigs eat dog food?
Guinea pigs could eat dog food, but it may hold little nutritional value or negatively affect them. In fact, obesity, diabetes, diarrhea, and other ailments may happen when your guinea pig eats dog food. That said, you can give your guinea pig dog treats if you follow some precautions.
Could Guinea Pigs Eat Dog Food?
Feeding guinea pigs with dog food isn’t a wise choice. Below are reasons why dog food is amongst the worst foods to give your guinea pig.
Guinea Pigs Cannot Digest Meat
These pets are herbivores; they do not chew and swallow bones like dogs or cats. So if you feed your pet a diet that contains any kind of bone, it causes problems with digestion.
If you were to give your guinea pig meat, then you’d have to chop it into tiny chunks. Nonetheless, meat has negligible value to guinea pigs as their bodies lack the enzymes to process it.
In fact, eating meat is detrimental to guinea pig health as it may lead to intestinal blockage.
Guinea Pigs Cannot Produce Vitamin C
Unlike dogs, guinea pigs cannot generate Vitamin C. So, they need a diet that contains this vitamin. Vitamin C is essential to guinea pigs as its absence results in scurvy. The vitamin is also important for the growth and nourishment of parts like joints and the skin.
Since canines produce Vitamin C, most dog foods lack it. Therefore, offering guinea pigs dog food deprives them of this mineral.
Dog Food Has High Protein
The high protein content of many dog foods is also problematic for guinea pigs as they may develop kidney stones from consuming too much protein.
If your guinea pig suffers from kidney stones, they are likely to be in extreme pain, pass out bloody urine or temporarily lose urinating capabilities.
Some Dog Food is Tough for Guinea Pigs
Many dogs consume any meat product, while others prefer chicken or fish. Some owners feed their pets rawhide chews from the beef hide. These products are very hard on the teeth and gums.
Hence, your dog can eat them, but it may be impossible for your guinea pig to munch them.
Besides, some components present in dog foods may cause diarrhea in guinea pigs.
Dog Food Has Low Fiber Content
Guinea pigs are herbivores. Therefore, they require high amounts of fiber in their diets. Fiber aids in proper bowel movements and prevents constipation. It also keeps the intestines clean and healthy.
With this in mind, your guinea pig won’t get an adequate fiber supply if fed on dog food. And this is likely to cause digestion issues.
Moreover, fiber helps keep your pet’s digestive system running smoothly.
When its availability is wanting, constipation may occur. Constipation causes hard stools that block up the intestinal tract. As a result, your pet becomes distressed and may not absorb nutrients properly; hence, leading to malnutrition.
The chain effects continue as malnutrition affects every organ in the body. Consequently, it becomes harder for your pet to fight off diseases.
In addition, malnourished pets become lethargic and weak. Remember, your pet needs the energy to live a happy and active life.
Furthermore, there are many different ways to add fiber to your pet’s diet. One way is to use supplements.
Dog Foods May Cause Obesity and Associated Illnesses
Guinea pigs are prone to obesity when given access to junk food, which is what dog food is to them.
But how does obesity in guinea pigs arise from eating dog food?
Obesity in guinea pigs results from overeating processed meals, including dry dog food and raw ones like meat and bacon. When obese guinea pigs eat these kinds of foods, they become overweight.
Too much weight causes excess fat deposits around the body. As a result, the skin becomes thickened and sagging. In addition, hair may start falling off.
Obese guinea pigs may develop diabetes mellitus. This disease occurs when blood sugar levels rise abnormally. It usually happens after prolonged periods of consuming excessive calories.
Moreover, diabetes mellitus may lead to kidney failure. Kidneys help remove waste products from the bloodstream.
Therefore, without properly functioning kidneys, toxins accumulate in the bloodstream causing damage to organs including the heart, brain, nerves, reproductive system, and more.
Diabetic guinea pigs suffer from frequent infections because their immune systems are weak. A diabetic guinea pig is susceptible to bladder stones.
Diabetes in guinea pigs makes them vulnerable to dental problems and may also lead to nerve pain. All of these conditions make life miserable for diabetic guinea pigs.
To avoid all these health issues, diabetic guinea pigs need to maintain a healthy weight through proper dieting. And the starting point when it comes to providing your guinea pig with a proper diet is by eliminating dog food from the menu.
What Happens When Your Guinea Pig Eats Dog Food?
If you feed your pet guinea pigs dog food, expect adverse effects on their overall health. For starters, the animal may have diarrhea. In turn, loose stool may lead to dehydration which could prove fatal if untreated.
Another problem with feeding guinea pigs dog food is that it might cause them to gain more than the normal amount of weight. That would mean that they would put on extra pounds.
In effect, extra pounds increase their risk of developing other diseases like arthritis or osteoarthritis. These two ailments affect joints making movement difficult.
Also, there is a chance that they may develop joint inflammation. Joint inflammation makes it painful for the animals to move.
So, what should you do if you wish to give your guinea pig some tasty treats but don’t want them to gain too much weight? You must choose a balanced diet.
A balanced diet has the required amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc.
Can You Give Guinea Pigs Dog Treats?
Dog treats can be beneficial to guinea pigs but only when consumed under certain circumstances. If you’re planning to provide your guinea pig with dog treats, then:
- Make sure that the treat is made up of high-quality ingredients. Avoid cheap brands since they contain fillers and preservatives. Also, look out for artificial flavors and colors. They can harm your guinea pig’s health. Pick products that are free from corn syrup, wheat flour, soybean oil, hydrogenated oils, sugar, salt, aspartame, among others.
- Be careful not to overfeed your guinea pig. Ensure snacks aren’t making the most percentage of your guinea pig’s meals.
- Keep an eye on how often they eat. Don’t let your pets gorge themself at every opportunity. Instead, try giving them small portions throughout the day. This helps prevent overeating.
- Always keep fresh water available for your guinea pig.
- Never force-feed your guinea pig anything. Doing so can result in gastric torsion. Besides, it can even kill your guinea pig.
- Do not use any type of medication when your guinea pig reacts badly to treats unless prescribed by your vet. Some medications are toxic to pets and can damage their internal organs.
- Always give your guinea pig a tiny amount of the treat and wait a couple of days to see any adverse reactions. If your guinea pig is okay, then you can occasionally offer them such treats. However, make sure you keep monitoring their behavior closely.
- Try using different types of treats instead of just offering the same old ones again and again. For example, you could add fruits and vegetables to your pet’s regular diet.
Some dog treats, while not harmful to guinea pigs, have no nutritional value to them. An example is dog biscuits. Therefore, it’s best to stick with the fruit snacks you provide your dog with, like strawberries and bananas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind of Dog Treats Will Work Well for My Guinea Pig?
Veggie dog treats will work well for your guinea pig. Fruits like strawberries and watermelon are rich in water, nutrients, and fiber vital for your pig’s development.
On the other hand, the most common dog treats sold today are specifically for canines. What’s more? They tend to offer little value to guinea pigs.
What Can I Feed My Guinea Pig When I Run Out of Food?
You can feed your guinea pigs veggies when you run out of food.
It’s best to avoid dog food and instead opt for finely diced tomatoes, kales, carrots, and so forth.
You can introduce your guinea pig to dog food only if you know what you’re doing. Feeding your guinea pig dog food isn’t best because these items aren’t nutritious enough for your pet.
In fact, many commercial dog foods don’t even include essential vitamins and minerals. So, be cautious before buying dog foods and treats.