Guinea pigs drinking tea is not commonly heard of since they should have constant access to fresh water.
To many people’s surprise, with veterinary guidance, caffeine-free tea in tiny amounts can be safe for guinea pigs and even benefit their health. However, tea with caffeine and other harmful ingredients can be toxic or even fatal to guinea pigs.
Continue reading to learn more about the types of ingredients in tea that are unsafe for guinea pigs, what to do if your guinea pig accidentally ingests tea, and the benefits of guinea pig-safe tea.
Why drinking tea is dangerous for guinea pigs
No two guinea pigs are the same. However, it might be best to avoid it feeding altogether when it comes to tea.
Most tea contains several dangerous ingredients for guinea pigs to ingest, including specific herbs, artificial sweeteners or coloring, and caffeine.
Guinea pigs have extremely fragile stomachs and can become very sick if they ingest anything abnormal or in high amounts.
While some ingredients are toxic, others may cause illness or chronic health issues.
Overall, avoiding non-guinea pig-approved food and beverages may be safest without consulting a veterinarian.
Many natural plants and herbs that grow in the wild are not safe for guinea pigs. These include anything grown from a bulb or with pine needles.
Other herbs potentially found in tea that is harmful are poppy, ginger, oregano, and rosemary.
Make sure you research any food or beverage ingredients before giving them to your guinea pig.
Even if the tea has safe herbs, the way it was processed could be potentially dangerous. Anything new to a guinea pig’s stomach can cause sickness.
Artificial sweeteners and coloring
In addition to herbs used in teas, they can contain sweeteners or coloring that may be harmful to guinea pigs.
This is because of the artificial ingredients that can be toxic, and the high sugar content that can cause dehydration, diarrhea, or sickness.
Any human processed foods are bound to be unsafe for guinea pigs and their small, vulnerable stomachs.
Caffeine causes increased urination and dehydration
Caffeine, the main ingredient in most teas, is also a diuretic, which causes more frequent urination, dehydration, and diarrhea that could become fatal.
This is because caffeine directly affects the metabolism and calcium levels. Guinea pigs have difficulty digesting and are easily susceptible to sickness. Therefore, caffeine should never be given to guinea pigs, even in small amounts.
However, if a guinea pig accidentally ingests tea, here are some steps to take immediately.
What if my guinea pig accidentally drank tea?
If you find that your guinea pig accidentally got into your tea and you realize it has caffeine or another toxic ingredient, do not panic.
While dialing the phone to contact your veterinarian, you can assess the guinea pig’s behavior for any signs you may need to report.
Follow these few steps and any additional instructions given by your veterinarian.
Consult a veterinarian
There are a few steps you should follow to be safe, starting with contacting your veterinarian.
Dehydration can be one of the first signs you can spot. Your guinea pig may be dehydrated if they seem lethargic, have a dry nose, or sunken eyes.
Your guinea pig may also have increased urination or thirst, although these symptoms may be more difficult to spot.
These are some of the things that you should let your vet know when on the line.
Give water to replenish
Every guinea pig should drink 30 to 50 milliliters of water per day. If your guinea pig accidentally drinks tea, replace it with water to help avoid an upset stomach.
Giving water slowly after accidental ingestion of a small amount of tea will help the guinea pig become replenished without being harmed in the process.
Water will rehydrate and slow the process of any toxins they may have ingested.
Determine how much the guinea pig drank
Your veterinarian will ask if you know what your guinea pig has drunk and how much.
Although small amounts of caffeine, a sip or two, will not usually do too much harm, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
You may be able to tell how much they ingested by knowing what they got into and how much is missing from it.
Is non-caffeinated tea safe for guinea pigs?
Chamomile is used for many health benefits, including sleep and calmness. Although chamomile is on the safe herbs list, too much of anything can be harmful.
Ensure the tea does not contain caffeine, consult a veterinarian to be safe, and only feed in small amounts.
A sip or two of tea will most likely not harm the guinea pig, but only feed tea if necessary or instructed by a veterinarian.
Herbal tea safe for guinea pig
Herbs such as chamomiles, roses, marigolds, or dandelions can benefit guinea pigs’ health. These can be fed fresh, dried, or infused into a guinea pig-safe tea.
However, many herbs found in teas are dangerous or even poisonous for guinea pigs.
Only feed what you have fed before, are instructed to feed by a veterinarian, or guinea pig-approved foods and beverages.
It is best to avoid feeding tea and just give water unless instructed by a veterinarian.
Determine the need for feeding tea
If you are searching to see if tea is safe for guinea pigs, you should have a reason for wanting to feed that tea.
In some instances, tea can be beneficial for a guinea pig’s health. If the owner consults with a veterinarian, together they may decide to give small amounts of tea to increase a guinea pig’s immune or digestive system, for instance.
It is not recommended that anything new be given to a guinea pig without first consulting with a veterinarian.
Only certain teas that have been proven safe for guinea pig ingestion should be used. A guinea pig would rarely need to drink anything other than water throughout its life.
If nothing is wrong and your guinea pig still squeaks with happiness, continue feeding water, hay, and guinea pig food.
Purposes of feeding guinea pig-approved tea
Ask your veterinarian
Before giving your guinea pig any new food or beverage, consult with a veterinarian.
Do not feed anything in copious amounts, even though guinea pigs eat a lot and may convince you they are starving.
Always start slowly with any new food or beverage to avoid diarrhea.
If you notice your guinea pig is not eating or drinking, differences in appearance and behavior, or anything else concerning, a veterinarian will best be able to decide if the guinea pig needs any additional supplements, including tea.
Guinea pig-approved tea only
Tea can have health benefits due to its antioxidants and tannins. These are known to help the immune and digestive systems of guinea pigs.
Ensure the tea is plain, unsweetened, does not contain caffeine, and cooled properly to ensure it does not burn your guinea pig’s tongue or mouth.
If you have any doubt that a product is safe for guinea pigs to ingest, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian first.
If approved or prescribed by a veterinarian, be sure to only give the proper dosage amounts and report any abnormal behavior to your veterinarian immediately.
Start slow and only give small amounts
When introducing new food or beverage to a guinea pig, it is best to begin with small amounts to avoid diarrhea.
In case of any reactions or sickness that can occur when giving a guinea pig a new food or beverage, you will want to start slow.
Consult a veterinarian before giving anything new, as they will be able to instruct and monitor the proper dosages.
Caring for small animals such as guinea pigs can be a challenge at first, but knowing what food and beverages are safe, and what to do if an accident occurs, is of the most importance.
If you find out that your guinea pig accidentally drank tea, remember to consult a veterinarian right away just to be safe.
Guinea pigs often drink water for their entire lives, but with certain circumstances and direction from a veterinarian, caffeine-free tea is safe for guinea pigs in small amounts.
Feeding tea may improve a guinea pig’s health as long as it is given in moderation. However, do your research before determining if tea is necessary and safe to feed to your guinea pig.