Home Small Pets Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dog Food?

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dog Food?

by Lucy

Guinea pigs have been making children and adults happy as pets for a long time. There’s actually a portrait of a Tudor girl clutching her precious guinea pig that dates back to 1580. That’s several centuries’ worth of love and affection for these furry babies!

You can imagine that guinea pig owners, over the years, have discovered all that it takes to keep their fluffy pets satisfied. But, when it comes to guinea pig parents and their pet’s dietary needs, people have a lot of questions.

Having deciphered what a guinea pig’s diet should contain, pet owners want to know what else they can feed their guinea pigs.

Can you feed a guinea pig dog food? No, you cannot feed a guinea pig dog food. Guinea pigs are herbivores and aren’t capable of digesting food with meat in it. That means you can’t and shouldn’t feed them dog food ever, as it can cause intestinal distress, obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

To learn more about why it’s never a good idea to mix a guinea pig’s diet with dog food and the inherent risks of doing so, read on!

Why Dog Food Isn’t Good for Guinea Pigs

You know, there’s a reason why commercial pet food manufacturers name their products the way they do – cat food, dog food, fish food, etc. Pet diets are categorized by animal types to ensure pet parents know which product to pick accordingly in the modern pet food industry. 

Not to mention, pet food manufacturers don’t just randomly pick out ingredients for their products. For example, cat food is produced based on the daily nutritional intake of felines and there are even variations based on a cat’s age, allergies, and sensitivities. So, you probably shouldn’t feed a dog treat to a cat either.

Similarly, it’s recommended your guinea pig’s diet should include hay, guinea pig pellets, fresh veggies, and fruits. And, if your guinea pig seems to have bad reactions to any particular foods, you should cut it out of their diet and refer to a veterinarian.

Sorry, but trying to feed your guinea pig dog food is not the smartest idea out there. And in case there’s still some confusion in the ranks, here are some top reasons why guinea pigs and dog food just don’t mix:

1. Inability to Digest Meat

There’s some controversy when it comes to classifying the canine diet. Some animal experts claim dogs are carnivores, while others state that they’re omnivores.

Whatever the case may be, they all agree on one thing – doggos can digest meat, love it, and thrive on it. That’s why the primary ingredient of dog food is some kind of meat, be it chicken, lamb, turkey, etc. 

Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are obligate herbivores. They don’t eat meat because they don’t need to. And, because their diet consists of mostly plant-matter, evolution has seen it fit to give them a metabolic system that doesn’t require meat to survive. 

They actually need plenty of fiber in their diet for their digestive system to work like clockwork. That’s why domesticated guinea pigs are either fed grass or timothy hay. 

If you tried feeding your fuzzy friend a diet of dog food, that could lead to throwing off its delicate tummy and may even lead to a GI block (blockage of the small intestine). 

Additionally, meat has little to no nutritional value for guinea pigs because their systems are designed to break down plants. Guinea pigs don’t have the acids or enzymes to break down meat, so there’s no question of it being beneficial for them. 

2. Lack of Vitamin C

Humans and guinea pigs share the inability to produce their own Vitamin C. Dogs, however, can synthesize Vitamin C in their livers, which means they don’t need to consume it from a secondary source. That’s the reason dog food doesn’t contain even the tiniest amount of ascorbic acid. 

Guinea pigs need to fed Vitamin C because, without it, they can develop a condition referred to as scurvy, which may be fatal in some cases. Premium guinea pig pellets are fortified with optimal amounts of Vitamin C to ensure your furry little critter avoids all types of health-related concerns. 

Your average guinea pig requires anywhere from 10 to 30mg/kg of Vitamin C to maintain good health. A guinea pig that is Vitamin C deficient may need up to 50mg/kg of Vitamin C per day.

Vets even recommend increasing their daily dose of Vitamin C when they’re ill. To put it briefly, guinea pigs can’t do without Vitamin C. This is another crucial reason why you can’t feed your guinea pig dog food.

What Happens if a Guinea Pig Eats Dog Food? 

So far, we’ve established the fact that dog food isn’t good for guinea pigs. However, I haven’t really laid out what can go wrong with your pet if you feed it canine chow, apart from mentioning a GI block. That’s about to change. 

Here’s what can happen if you feed your guinea pig dog food.

1. Obesity

It seems no one’s safe from obesity nowadays, not even your guinea pig. Guinea pigs are susceptible to being unhealthily fat if they keep chowing down at all times.

If you leave your guinea pig’s topped-up food bowl just lying around, your pet’s going to eat from it. It’s a well-known fact that guinea pigs eat because they’re bored (I can totally relate to that). 

If guinea pigs can get obese from eating too much guinea pig pellets, can you imagine what eating dog food can do to your pet’s system?

Even the occasional snack of dog food could throw off your guinea pig’s daily nutritional intake and lead to them going from svelte to Mr. Chubs. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to body-shame guinea pigs. It’s just that obesity in guinea pigs comes with a whole host of other problems, like achy joints, limited mobility, lethargy, heart problems, a shortened life span, etc. 

2. Heightened Cholesterol

Guinea pigs are pretty prone to developing high cholesterol if their diet is inadequate. Also, like humans, high cholesterol levels can affect a guinea pig’s cardiovascular health.

Add to that to the fact that guinea pigs can suffer from heart attacks, at any age, for no particular reason, and you’ll understand why adding meat to your guinea pig’s diet is a really bad idea. 

3. High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

A guinea pig is prone to conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. This happens even though guinea pigs eat a plant-based diet. However, if you feed your guinea pig dog food containing salt and sugar – this can lead to your furball developing diabetes and/or high blood pressure over time. 

The Verdict

I think we’ve gone over and beyond a reasonable doubt in proving that feeding your guinea dog food has no benefits and plenty of related health problems involved. What’s more, even if your furry baby went its entire life without eating meat, it won’t be disappointed. 

Guinea pigs are hardwired by nature to be vegetarians, and that’s not an easy thing to beat or replace. My advice is, stick to your tiny pig’s favorite treats, give your pet its daily dose of Vitamin C, and keep its water topped up. That’s the best recipe for a happy little guinea pig. 

What About Dog Treats?

I know what you’re thinking. If guinea pigs can’t eat dog food because of all the meat in it, what about dry treats?

Technically, the nutritional value of dry dog treats includes the following: proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, and fats and oils. So, you may give your little friend a piece or two of a dog biscuit because it’s likely not going to harm them. But it’s not going to be of any benefit to your guinea pig either. 

Dog biscuits can include plant-based protein or animal-based protein, such as bone or dried liver meal. If the biscuits you want your guinea pig to try out include some type of meat product, it’s best to avoid it. 

Even if there are no meat by-products involved, it’s best to give your pet a treat that’ll help up its nutritional intake. For example, give your guinea pig some kale, carrots, cilantro, or strawberries as a treat instead. Your pet will love these treats.

Related Questions

I’m all about imparting helpful knowledge to my fellow pet enthusiasts, which is why you should definitely give the FAQ section a once over before signing off. 

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cat Food?

Guinea pigs shouldn’t eat cat food for the same reason they can’t eat dog food – because its primary ingredient is generally meat.

Guinea pigs are herbivores, and their digestive systems require a plant-based diet to function. Feeding your piggies wet cat food may result in nasty problems like GI blockage, diabetes, heart problems, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. 

You could safely get away with giving your guinea pig a bite or two of dry cat food because it’s high on fiber, fats, and oils. But, it’ll be more like giving your pet empty calories to consume because there’s little to no nutritional benefit. 

What Can You Feed Your Guinea Pig When You Run Out of Food?

If you’ve had a hectic week and forgot to stock up on your piggy’s pellets, you can try giving your pet one of these healthy snacks instead:

  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cilantro
  • Parsely

However, keep in mind that guinea pig pellets are composed of all the essential nutrients your guinea pig needs to stay healthy. So, while these treats may last you a day, you shouldn’t keep your guinea pig off its pellets for too long. 

Up Next: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tree Leaves?

You may also like

Leave a Comment