Wheatgrass is a delightful treat for guinea pigs if fed to them in moderation.
Pet owners are always looking for new ways to add variety to their guinea pigs’ diets, and wheatgrass can be a delectable addition for a wide range of reasons.
However, there are some facts that you should know before feeding wheatgrass to your cavy critters. Keep reading to learn how your pets can safely consume wheatgrass and various other grasses!
Is Wheatgrass Safe For Guinea Pigs?
Wheatgrass is safe for guinea pigs as long as it is given to them as an occasional treat and not used as your cavies’ main source of nutrition.
Guinea pigs require a consistent diet of timothy hay and leafy greens to keep them at their piggy best.
Wheatgrass is a familiar piggy favorite. Guinea pigs enjoy munching down on wheatgrass as long as they aren’t typically picky eaters.
Some picky eater piggies may not enjoy wheatgrass, but if they are fed it while they are young, they will most likely chow down.
In addition to being safe for guinea pigs, wheatgrass is great for us too! Wheatgrass can be used to give us health benefits when mixed in smoothies.
It’s cool to know that pet owners can share a healthy diet with their piggy pals.
Nutrition in Wheatgrass for Guinea Pigs
Wheatgrass contains a mixture of vitamins A, C, and E, which are all great for your piggies’ health.
In addition to these essential vitamins, wheatgrass contains calcium, iron, magnesium, and more. It is no exaggeration to say that wheatgrass is a piggy superfood.
What is wheatgrass? After hearing so much about the benefits of this amazing plant, you may be surprised to learn that wheatgrass is simply young shoots of the common wheat plant.
The term “wheatgrass” is used when it is still in its green, grassy stage of growth.
Consider feeding wheatgrass, especially to piggies who are sick and might need the extra boost of nutrients.
It is necessary to note that guinea pigs can consume too many vitamins too quickly and experience upset stomachs.
Be particularly careful when portioning wheatgrass for a sick piggy so that you are improving their condition rather than worsening it.
Continue reading to learn about different vitamins and minerals found in wheatgrass and how they affect your guinea pigs’ nutritional needs.
Wheatgrass is an excellent source of vitamin A. Guinea pigs require about 28mg of vitamin A per day to best regulate their health. Side effects of a vitamin A deficiency in your cavy may include:
- Eye bacterial infections
- Poor growth (in young guinea pigs)
- Weight loss
- Dermatitis resulting from an eye infection
Vitamin A deficiencies can be deadly for guinea pigs. Any guinea pig that is losing weight rapidly should immediately be taken to the vet for care.
Guinea pigs are small, fragile animals, and weight loss of any kind is usually a sign of potential illness.
Purchasing an at-home small pet scale can be a great way of monitoring your guinea pig’s weight.
Using an at-home pet scale can be beneficial because vitamin deficiencies and other diseases don’t need to cause visually apparent weight loss before taking measures to heal them.
Vitamin C is an incredibly important component in guinea pig nutrition. Guinea pigs cannot create their own vitamin C, so they must get the vitamin daily from outside sources.
Wheatgrass is a fantastic way for guinea pigs to include vitamin C in their diets. Guinea pigs require 200mg of vitamin C daily to meet their dietary requirements.
Guinea pigs experiencing a vitamin C deficiency may display any of the following signs:
- Rough Coat
- Swollen Joints
- Weakness or Difficulty Moving
200mg of vitamin C a day is a hard quota for pet owners to meet. For this reason, it is the most common vitamin deficiency to occur in guinea pigs.
Wheatgrass is particularly high in vitamin C, so if your veterinarian suggests more vitamin C in your cavies’ diets, it can be a fantastic place to start.
Guinea pigs are suggested to consume around 26.7mg of vitamin E every day to maintain their health. Including wheatgrass in guinea pig diets can help reduce their chances of experiencing a vitamin E deficiency.
Side effects of vitamin E deficiencies in guinea pigs include severe weight loss and degeneration of the skeletal muscles.
Pregnant guinea pigs especially need their vitamin E intake monitored, as they can have a wide array of pregnancy difficulties when deficient in the vitamin.
Although they only need 1mg of magnesium a day, magnesium is a much-needed mineral for guinea pigs. Magnesium is a mineral required for healthy muscle growth in guinea pigs.
Wheatgrass can help pet owners meet this daily requirement of magnesium.
Below we will discuss in greater detail how to introduce this nutrient-rich food to your cavies.
How Much Wheatgrass is Too Much?
It is important to feed guinea pigs only small amounts of wheatgrass when they are eating it for the first time. Minimized portions of wheatgrass when introducing it to your piggies are necessary for several reasons.
The first is that guinea pigs are hesitant eaters and will frequently reject foods the first time that they are offered.
If you’re only feeding them small amounts, then you will accumulate less food waste if your piggies decide that wheatgrass doesn’t suit their taste buds.
Secondly, wheatgrass is packed with vitamins. Just like people can get upset stomachs when suddenly eating fiber-packed foods, guinea pigs can get upset stomachs when eating foods that are high in vitamins.
Try offering only a little handful of wheatgrass to begin tempting your piggies with their new treat.
Too much calcium can cause bladder stones
It is also notable that wheatgrass contains a large amount of calcium, so it is best to feed it to your piggies only once or twice a week.
Calcium-rich foods can be dangerous when given to your cavies too frequently since they can cause guinea pigs to develop bladder stones over time.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t feed your pets calcium-rich foods, but you should be careful to dispense them sparsely throughout the week.
Should I Grow My Own Wheatgrass for Guinea Pigs?
Wheatgrass is a relatively easy plant to grow that guinea pigs and cats are fond of eating. One way to save money on buying guinea pig supplies is to grow it yourself.
Wheatgrass starter plants and seeds are commonly found in pet stores and are reasonably inexpensive.
Wheatgrass likes to grow in a dim, well-aerated environment. Setting it in a window of your house that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight is an excellent choice.
Wheatgrass prefers infrequent watering and indirect sunlight to grow at its best. Given the right conditions, wheatgrass can grow quickly and supply your piggies with plenty of wonderful snacking sessions.
Wheatgrass is dog and cat safe, which means that it will pose no danger to your other pets while sitting in your window.
Although not a potential threat to other pets, it might be a good idea to keep your plants out of your other pets’ reach as dogs and cats are often attracted to wheatgrass and might try to take a nibble too.
Under supervision, let your guinea pigs munch away at the top of the grass until there are a couple of centimeters left of growth.
You can also trim your wheatgrass and feed it to your piggies to have more control over their portion sizes.
Just like fresh-clipped grass, the wheatgrass will grow again and can be a tasty treat for your piggies.
Just be careful to make sure that your guinea pigs are eating an acceptable serving size of wheatgrass to prevent them from getting sick, as mentioned above.
What Other Grasses Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Guinea pigs can eat and enjoy a wide variety of grasses. Hays can help wear down your piggies’ ever-growing teeth as well as provide them with a wide array of nutrients.
Hays that you can feed your guinea pigs include:
- Timothy Grass Hay
- Orchard Grass Hay
- Oat Grass Hay
- Blended Hay
- Botanical Hay
- Organic Meadow Hay
- Alfalfa Hay
Note that you should carefully research all of the hays listed above before feeding them to your pets.
Some hays like oat grass hay, alfalfa hay, and botanical hay are intended to be treats rather than piggy main courses, so it is essential to learn how to differentiate between the different types of hay.
Wheatgrass is an excellent treat to give your guinea pigs because it’s vitamin-rich, and the taste is piggy-approved.
Wheatgrass can even be made more affordable to you by growing a supply in the window of your home.
There are a wide variety of grass hay options for feeding your piggies, but only a couple are suitable for your guinea pigs’ daily routines.
While orchard grass hay is okay in a pinch, timothy hay will always be the best pick hay for your piggy pals.