Domestic pets have a complicated relationship with raisins. To cats and dogs, these died fruits are completely toxic and must be avoided at all times. Rabbits, on the other hand, adore raisins and will eat them as often as possible. As a fellow small animal, you may assume that this makes raisins a good for food for guinea pigs. Is this really the case?
What are Raisins?
Most commonly hailing from California, raisins are small, dried grapes. In fact, this was how raisins were accidentally discovered by humans. Grapes that were left on a vine for too long, and exposed to excessive sunlight, shrank and dried up.
Raisins have since become a favored snack for many humans and animals alike. Guinea pigs, especially, are likely to enjoy the taste of raisins as a dessert or treat. Sweetness is a delight for the palate of any guinea pig!
As we all know, however, not everything that guinea pigs like to eat is good for them. Raisins are no exception to this. These ingredients are usually best avoided by guinea pigs, for a wide range of reasons.
Should a Guinea Pig Have Raisins?
Let’s start with the positive news. Raisins do contain some good qualities. When it comes to food, guinea pigs care more about flavor and fun than nutrition. Guinea pigs eat what tastes nice to them, not what boosts their little bodies. All the same, raisins contain:
- Lots of fiber
- High levels of Vitamin C
- High amounts of calcium, iron and boron
- Natural antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds to boost immunity and stave off illness
- The kind of sweet, chewy taste that guinea pigs eat with glee!
This suggests that raisins are good for guinea pigs to eat, especially the Vitamin C – guinea pigs do not produce this naturally, and need to get it from their diet.
Raisins are also a favorite of other small animals, most notably rabbits. Sadly, as much as your pocket pet may beg, you should avoid caving into temptation and letting guinea pigs eat raisins.
Why Should Guinea Pigs Not Eat Raisins?
In a word, sugar. Despite their small size, raisins are absolutely packed with the sweet stuff. This is why guinea pigs eat raisins, given half a chance. Sadly, it’s also why raisins should not be part of a guinea pig’s food. Sweet snacks place your guinea pig at risk of –
- Weight gain and diabetes
- Upset stomachs
- Rotten teeth
- Addiction and binging – your guinea pig may refuse to eat hay or other food if it has too much sugar
Appropriate guinea pig foods contain almost no sugar. This is because the tiny body of a guinea pig cannot process this ingredient. It will make your guinea pig sick, and upset its digestion. It will also lead to obesity.
Excessive sugar will also rot the teeth of guinea pigs. One raisin may not be the end of the world, but most guinea pigs will not stop at one! If your pocket pet continues to eat, it will eventually lose teeth. This makes it impossible to chew, which is a critical activity for a guinea pig. Chewing is more than just eating for small animals – it’s entertainment.
There is another problem with raisins as a pocket pet food. Guinea pig mouths and throats are tiny, and raisins are sticky. Your guinea pig may swallow the raisin before it has been broken down sufficiently. Not only this will reduce the release of Vitamin C, but it could make your guinea pig choke.
Even the Vitamin C content of raisins has a dark side. As mentioned, your guinea pig is likely to munch through raisins at great speed and potential excess. Too much Vitamin C is just as dangerous to a pocket pet as not enough.
Guinea pigs like to munch on food throughout the day, so you’ll need to make sure they do not eat too much. A plentiful supply of hay will manage this. You can also supply a small amount of fresh fruit and vegetables. These will be much better for your guinea pig than raisins.
Alternative Guinea Pig Treats
So, raisins are not appropriate for guinea pigs. Food remains important to your pocket pet though, and it needs to gain the goodness and nutrition, such as Vitamin C, that raisins can provide. What are some alternative treats that you could offer your guinea pig to eat?
Grapes are the perfect alternative to raisins for a guinea pig. They contain all the same nutrition – as discussed, raisins are basically just dried grapes – but fewer of the risks associated with choking.
As grapes are less sticky and chewy, your pet is unlikely to struggle to eat them. Naturally, though, there are some hazards associated with grapes. They’re still very sweet, so as tasty as grapes are, they need to be fed in careful moderation.
Chop grapes – whether red or green – into smaller chunks. Quarters is usually fine. You can then offer grapes as a very occasional treat for good behavior, while potty training – or just because your pet is being adorable!
Nuts and raisins typically go together like eggs and bacon. We established that raisins should be off your guinea pig’s menu. That said, can guinea pigs eat nuts?
We’re sorry to sound like killjoys, but nuts are another food to avoid for guinea pigs. Nuts are typically packed with fat, salt and other ingredients that are no good for small animals. They contain no Vitamin C or anything else to counter this. What’s more, nuts are small and tough enough to represent a choking hazard. Sorry, guinea pigs!
So, can guinea pigs eat raisins? While these foods are not toxic, we stand by our statement that guinea pigs cannot consume raisins. The likelihood of sickness means that any benefits are outweighed by risk. In addition, the small stature of raisins makes them a choking hazard. There are much better treats that you can offer your guinea pig.