You’ve probably heard of guinea pigs eating grass, but do you know whether they can eat kale? In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of feeding your guinea pig kale – something that you may have never tried before.
Can guinea pigs eat kale? Yes, Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can feed your guinea pig. As part of a balanced diet, kale helps keep your guinea pig’s digestive system running smoothly. This dark, leafy green is full of antioxidants and nutrients that offer strong health benefits to guinea pigs.
Kale is just the right treat for your cavy. They are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which are very beneficial for your guinea pig’s health. Guinea pigs can eat the most commonly found kale varieties, including Curly kale, Dinosaur kale, Red Russian kale, and Baby kale.
However, it would be best only if you feed kale to your guinea pigs in strict moderation. Overfeeding kale to your beloved pets can lead to diarrhea, bladder stones, and many other serious health issues.
This article will discuss everything you should know about feeding kale to guinea pigs, including its nutritional value, health benefits, types of kale they can safely eat, and more.
Different types of kale
Kale is a green, leafy vegetable which is very nutritious, both for you and your cavy. But did you know that there are around ten different varieties of kale?
Below are some of the commonly found kale varieties that your beloved pets can eat.
Curly kale is probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of kale. The curly kale leaves are bright green and are sometimes curled a little too tightly, making it difficult for you to chop them.
The best time to do so is when they are fresh because the longer they’re left alone after plucking, the tougher they get. They have a mild, peppery flavor which can quickly get bitter if left for too long.
Also known as “Lacinato kale,” “Flat Palm kale,” and “Tuscan kale,” Dinosaur kale is another commonly found variety of kale.
It has tender leaves that are bluish or blackish-green in color and a deep, earthy flavor, contrary to the other kale varieties.
Red Russian Kale
Red Russian kale, also known as “Ragged Jack kale,” is more on the decorative side of kales, with its richly-colored burgundy stems, purple-tinted leaves, and a nutty flavor.
When choosing this kale for your pets, always go for the ones with fresh, bright, and firm leaves. The stems can be too firm for your pets, even when boiled, so it’s best you only feed the leaves to your cavy.
Nutritional value of kale
Most guinea pigs are not picky eaters and will eat whatever you keep in their feeding bowls. But this does not mean that everything they eat is suitable for their health.
Since they’re not smart enough to know what is good for them, it falls upon you to make that decision for them as a responsible pet parent.
So, what nutritional value does kale hold for your little cavy? That’s what we are going to figure out in this section.
Below, we have curated a nutritional table of kale for you:
|Vitamin A||241 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.113 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.347 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.18 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||0.5 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.37 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.147 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||62 mcg|
|Vitamin C||93.4 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.66 mg|
|Vitamin K||389.6 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||254 mg|
|Iron, Fe||1.6 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||33 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.053 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.92 mg|
|Potassium, K||348 mg|
|Sodium, Na||53 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||55 mg|
|Selenium, Se||0.9 mcg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.39 mg|
|Dietary fibers||4.1 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Health benefits of feeding kale to guinea pigs
From the table above, it is evident why kale is known as a “superfood.” It is rich in vitamins and minerals with low-fat content, which is the perfect combination for your pets.
Now, let’s see why eating kale is beneficial for your guinea pigs:
Kale contains an abundance of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for guinea pigs since they cannot synthesize it themselves, just like humans. Kale has this vitamin in abundance, even more than most citrus fruits.
If your pet is deficient in this vitamin, it might suffer from Scurvy, a painful disease common among guinea pigs. The symptoms you should look out for are:
- Unwillingness to move
- Dental issues
- Painful joints
- Weight loss
- Rough coat
Kale has a low-fat content
Kale has low-fat content, which is an added advantage for your pet cavies as they are prone to gaining unnecessary weight easily in captivity.
Kale promotes the digestive health of guinea pigs
Fibers are necessary for regulating the bowel movements of your cavy and for keeping their intestines clean.
Kale has fibers in abundance, making it a healthy addition to your pet’s diet. A deficiency of fibers in your pets can lead to constipation and stomachache.
Kale also contains protein, which improves their nutritional metabolism.
Kale has an abundance of Calcium and Iron.
Kale contains a high Calcium level, which helps keep your cavy’s teeth and bones healthy.
It also contains Iron, which improves blood density and also increases your pet’s energy levels. Iron is also known to be an essential mineral for their growth, reproduction, and development. And since guinea pigs hardly ever sit still, the presence of Iron in their food is very beneficial.
If your pet has an Iron deficiency, they might have a reduced appetite, feel lethargic, and even suffer from Anaemia.
Kale strengthens the immune health of guinea pigs
Kale is packed with several antioxidants like carotenoids, zeaxanthin, lutein, and polyphenols, which fight against numerous diseases and strengthen your cavy’s immune health.
The hazards of overfeeding kale to guinea pigs
Although we’ve made it clear that kale is very beneficial for your pets, we can all agree that it cannot be included in their staple diet. Here are some of the reasons why:
The risk of too much sugar
Since kale is a vegetable, it contains a moderate amount of sugar, much less than fruits. However, when your pets overeat kale, even its moderate sugar content can be problematic for their health.
For example, Guinea pigs struggle with digesting too much sugar, which can often lead to stomach cramps and constipation.
High level of Calcium
Kale has a moderately high calcium content. And while this mineral can be beneficial for the growing cavies, it can cause bladder stones, urinary tract infections, and other urinary diseases in adults.
The threat of dehydration
Although the sodium content in kale is relatively low, it can still be unhealthy for your pets if overfed. Too much sodium can make your pets excessively thirsty, and if they don’t consume plenty of water, dehydrate them easily.
It can also increase their blood pressure levels, leading to cardiac issues in the long run.
Problems with muscle contraction
Vitamin K in kale promotes the muscle health of guinea pigs when fed in moderation. However, if you overfeed kale to guinea pigs, excessive vitamin K can cause muscle contraction and relaxation problems.
Practicing moderation with kale
Now that we know overfeeding kale to guinea pigs can be unwise let us see how we can add it to their diet without causing a problem.
Although the serving size of kale depends on many factors, such as your pet’s age and weight, feeding one or two small leaves twice a week is healthy for an average-sized guinea pig. However, if your pets have a history of urinary tract stones, you shouldn’t feed them kale more than once a month.
When you’re introducing kale to your guinea pig’s diet, it is essential to go slow and look out for any negative signs, such as rashes or redness around their mouth.
If you notice something like that, stop feeding kale to them immediately. However, if they show no such signs for 24 hours, it means that kale is safe for their consumption.
Can guinea pigs eat kale stem/ kale stalks?
Do you throw away the kale stem and stalks and are wondering if these could be fed to your pet? Yes, they could be. Guinea pigs love the tough and fibrous texture of the kale stem and can eat them safely.
Moreover, these stalks carry the same nutritional value as the leaves are, thus, equally nutritious for your pets. However, just as with the leaves, you should also practice moderation while feeding them the stalks.
Preparing kale for guinea pigs’ consumption
Now that you’ve learned all about the health benefits and hazards of feeding kale to guinea pigs, you must be wondering how to feed these veggies to them. Below, we have given you some pointers that can help you with it:
- When buying kale for your cavy, go for the organic ones because they’re grown in a protective environment and don’t contain toxic chemicals that could harm their health.
- If organic kale is not available in your vicinity, wash the kale thoroughly with lukewarm water before giving it to your pets.
- Chop 2-3 kale leaves into small pieces for the convenience of your cavy.
- You can also serve them kale along with greens like zucchini or lettuce to add more taste and nutrients to their treat.
- It would be best to feed cooked kale to your cavy because their digestive system is sensitive and cannot digest cooked food.
Other greens you can add to guinea pig’s diet.
Although it is not common for guinea pigs to dislike kale, there have been a few instances of it. However, if such a thing happens with your cavy, you needn’t worry.
There are many other green veggies out there that you could feed them instead of kale. Following is the list of some green vegetables that they are fond of:
- Romaine lettuce
- Sweet potatoes
- Red or green bell peppers
Conclusion: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Kale?
There you have it, a whole lot of guinea pig-related information.
I hope you’ve learned something from this article and that it will aid you on your quest of feeding kale to guinea pigs. If you have any questions left, feel free to send them to us via email.
So, whatcha waiting for? Get using that knowledge! I believe in you!