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When it comes to our guinea pig, we will always want what is best for him or her and this includes what we include in their diet.
As a guinea pig owner, you will be constantly on the lookout for new treats and exciting things for them to enjoy. Popcorn is one of the food items that many people ask about, but is it safe for them to eat?
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Popcorn?
In the wild a guinea pig is a herbivore and has flat teeth, so they enjoy eating things such as shrubs, plants and grasses. When they are domesticated, this is kale, carrots, fruit, hay, and many other things.
So, why cannot guinea pigs eat popcorn? Let us find out more about why it affects them, and the importance of a guinea pigs diet.
Why Your Guinea Pig Cannot Eat Popcorn
Even though we enjoy a bag of popcorn with our favorite movie every now and again, we cannot share the corn without furry pals. Doing so would disrupt their digestive system and cause them to become quite ill.
Popcorn can have a high fat content because it is cooked in oil. This makes them high in phosphorus as well, which is a mineral found in the bones of humans.
The phosphorus can cause the guinea pig to have a deficiency in magnesium, or have phosphate stones within the bladder which is dangerous and painful for the fur ball.
Narrowing Down the Risk Factors
There are many reasons why popcorn should not be fed to a guinea pig. It is a small, round item of food that is easily stuck between teeth, and due to how guinea pigs teeth are, a piece of popcorn may get jammed in between them.
Whilst we can take a toothpick to remove it, a guinea pig does not have this option, which could cause damage to their gums.
It is also a choking hazard, which should always be a concern when it comes to your beloved pet. They have a small digestive tract so there is always a chance that something like popcorn may become stuck.
Like a lot of small rodents, they have a small stomach. Something as high energy as popcorn will be far too much for the size of a guinea pig. This kind of food can bring on health problems such as diabetes or obesity, which will shorten their life.
And lastly, it is so rich in nutrients and processed that it can mess up their digestive system and areas of the body.
What About Plain Popcorn?
Due to the issues just mentioned, it is always best to stay clear of any form of popcorn if you want to look after your guinea pig the right way.
Even though plain popcorn is not necessarily made the same way as oily popcorn, it is still better to stay away from popcorn altogether.
A guinea pig has a really sensitive digestive system and due to this, they struggle to process certain food – mainly overly processed food such as baked goods, fried food, cooked, etc.
Stick with what you know they can eat and their life will flourish.
What Other Foods Guinea Pigs Not Eat
As you are already aware, a guinea pig should never be given processed food and that includes meat. They are herbivores and tend to eat mainly plants and natural things, but this does not mean that everything is suitable for them.
Stick to raw veggies and fruit – never cook them. Do bare in mind which ones they can and cannot eat though, as not everything will be good for their digestive system.
They also should never eat food that is high in sugar, and that includes some form of fruits. So, here is a list to help you understand what a guinea pig cannot eat:
Avocados, garlic, nuts, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms, bread, peanut butter, seeds, cabbage, dairy products including cheese, rhubarb, onions, chocolate, potatoes, and chips.
Do note that we have not included popcorn. Whilst it will not be like other foods in this list, it can be harmful in its own right, and that is why popcorn is not necessarily a good treat for your guinea pig.
What to Feed a Guinea Pig
Even though we have been mainly talking about what food is not suitable for a guinea pig, let us look at what they can eat so you can give them a delicious diet and lots of treats – but always do this sparingly so as to not overindulge or make the guinea pig unwell. These are:
Pumpkin, summer squash, asparagus, carrot tops, basil, parsley, swiss chard, zucchinis, green beans, romaine lettuce, bell peppers, arugula and winter squash.
A Guinea Pig Does Love Popcorn
Of course, if you have ever attempted to feed your guinea pig plain popcorn, then they have very likely nibbled on it. Not only are animals curious about what treat you have given them, but just because their body might not agree, it does not mean they will not like the taste.
Due to seeing their guinea pig happy, some pet owners do give in to their happy chappy and let them eat plain popcorn. If you have to do this, always feed them plain popcorn and if they show any symptoms, take them to a vet and do not attempt to feed them popcorn again.
Whilst popcorn is not a great choice, it may be tolerated by some guinea pigs. If you do take this route, always observe the guinea pig post-popcorn eating, and never ignore any signs. Also, do not add this treat into their main diet, and feed it to them very sparingly – if at all.
Whilst it may be tempting to feed your guinea pig a delicious piece of plain popcorn, the best thing to do is just not to bother. They are curious little creatures, but they have no idea what will harm them in the long term.
So, you can feed them popcorn, even though we have stated you cannot, but it is best not to due to the high risk factors associated with them.
Stick to a well balanced diet that is suitable for your happy rodent, and he or she will live a good and healthy life.