Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage (How Much is Safe?)
Cabbage is a popular veggie packed with healthy vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants. It’s one of the most nutritious leafy vegetables and it’s especially popular in coleslaw salads and side dishes. But is it safe to feed cabbage to guinea pigs too?
Guinea pigs can eat red, green, or savoy cabbage a couple of times a week. Cabbage is packed with Vitamin C and other healthy antioxidants. However, be sure to introduce it into the diet slowly, as this cruciferous vegetable can cause gas and bloating in guinea pigs.
Cabbage is an excellent addition to your guinea pig’s diet, but you need to be cautious of potential stomach cramps or bloating. Bloat can lead to GI stasis in guinea pigs, which can be fatal.
This doesn’t mean you should not feed cabbage, but it should be offered in reasonable amounts along with plenty of grass hay to keep the digestive system functioning smoothly. Offer cabbage in very small amounts at first to give your piggy’s body time to adapt.
Keep reading for more information on how to introduce cabbage properly to your piggy, the best amount to feed, and which types of cabbage are most suitable to feed guinea pigs.
You can also check out the Guinea Pig Food Chart for an alphabetical list of everything your piggy can eat and how often they can have it, along with calcium and Vitamin C levels for each food.
*Important Note: The quantity of cabbage shown in the photos is for visual purposes only and not indicative of the correct amount to feed your guinea pig in one serving.
Nutritional Value of Cabbage for Guinea Pigs
Cabbage contains some Vitamin C and several other nutrients that are beneficial to your guinea pig’s health. In the table below, I’ve listed the nutritional facts of 100 grams of green and red cabbage. Keep in mind that the nutritional data varies a bit from one variety of cabbage to another, so other types will contain slightly different levels.
Nutritional Facts of Green Cabbage
|Nutrient||Amount (per 100g)|
|Vitamin C||36.6 mg|
|Vitamin A||98 IU|
|Vitamin K||76 µg|
Nutritional Facts of Red Cabbage
|Nutrient||Amount (per 100g)|
|Vitamin C||57 mg|
|Vitamin A||1120 IU|
|Vitamin K||38.2 µg|
Benefits of Feeding Cabbage to Guinea Pigs
As you can see above, some of the nutritional content varies significantly from one variety of cabbage to another. However, they all contain a moderately high amount of Vitamin C, K, potassium, and other beneficial nutrients.
Vitamin C in Cabbage
Cabbage is an excellent source of Vitamin C for guinea pigs. According to the USDA food database, one medium leaf (23 grams) of green cabbage contains approximately 8.42mg of Vitamin C.
Red cabbage comes in at the highest, with 13.1mg of Vitamin C per leaf. Savoy cabbage finishes a little under the previous two, with 7.13mg of Vitamin C per medium-sized leaf.
Guinea pigs need 10-30mg of Vitamin C per day on average, so cabbage can provide a significant chunk of their daily requirement.
Piggies that are growing, pregnant, nursing, senior, or suffering from an illness often need up to 50mg of Vitamin C or more every day. Like humans, guinea pigs cannot produce their own Vitamin C and need to get it exclusively through their daily diet.
Vitamin C is necessary for many functions in the body, including immune support and collagen production. This leads to healthy fur, skin, bones, muscles, and blood vessels.
This vitamin also helps the body absorb iron from plant-based foods. Additionally, getting adequate Vitamin C in the diet prevents deficiency-related diseases like scurvy, which can be very painful for your guinea pig.
Vitamins and Minerals in Cabbage for Guinea Pigs
In addition to the great levels of Vitamin C, cabbage is also low in calories, high in fiber, and an excellent source of Vitamin K1, B6, folate, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. It also contains small amounts of Vitamin A (higher in red cabbage), iron, and riboflavin.
These vitamins and minerals play many essential roles in the body. Vitamin K1 is crucial for healthy blood clotting, while Vitamin B6 and folate contribute to energy metabolism and the proper function of the nervous system.
Potassium helps flush out excess sodium from the body, regulates fluid, and relaxes the blood vessel walls.
Additionally, cabbage contains an excellent balance of soluble and insoluble fiber. These two types of fiber have different vital roles in the digestive system.
Insoluble fiber is the best-known type. Insoluble improves regularity and helps to move food efficiently through the digestive tract.
On the other hand, soluble fiber feeds and nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut. This healthy bacteria helps the body fight off infections and keep the immune system strong. Beneficial bacteria in the gut also produce important nutrients like Vitamins K2 and B12, so it’s crucial to keep them healthy and nourished with foods rich in soluble fiber.
Cabbage is Rich in Antioxidants
Cabbage is also rich in many powerful antioxidants that benefit the body in numerous ways. Antioxidants help to fight off and neutralize free radicals in the body.
These compounds can damage cells if they multiply too quickly, causing a condition known as oxidative stress. This can result in a higher risk of chronic illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Oxidative stress can also accelerate aging. Providing plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies (such as cabbage) to your guinea pig is a great way to reduce many of the risks from free radicals.
In addition, many of the antioxidants found in cabbage may help reduce chronic inflammation. This can be especially beneficial for senior guinea pigs suffering from arthritis or other chronic inflammation-based issues.
Finally, cabbage is excellent for heart health. It has the potential to lower blood pressure, and it also contains some compounds that can help decrease bad cholesterol levels. This can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and heart disease.
Vitamin C and Calcium Levels in Different Types of Cabbage
|Type of Cabbage||Vitamin C Content (per 1 medium leaf/23 grams)||Calcium (per 1 medium leaf/23 grams)|
Risks of Feeding Your Guinea Pig Cabbage
While cabbage has many benefits, there are a handful of potential concerns you should be aware of before including this leafy veggie into your guinea pig’s staple diet.
Cabbage Can Cause Bloat in Guinea Pigs
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and kale. As such, feeding cabbage can potentially cause gas or bloat if fed in large amounts. It may also cause diarrhea in some piggies.
Some guinea pigs are more sensitive to stomach problems than others, so it’s best to introduce gassy veggies gradually and see how your guinea pig reacts.
Start with small amounts to give their body a chance to adapt to the new food. Also, ensure they have plenty of hay available, as this helps reduce bloating and keeps the digestive system moving.
Cabbage Contains Some Calcium
Cabbage also contains some calcium. Per 1 medium leaf (23 grams), red cabbage contains the highest amount at 10.4mg, regular green cabbage contains 9.2mg per leaf, and savoy has 8.05mg of calcium.
Compared to many other leafy greens and herbs, this is relatively low. Per 100 grams, red cabbage contains 45mg of calcium, and green comes in at 40mg. Compare that to parsley, another popular green, which sits at 138mg of calcium per 100 grams! However, some foods, such as green bell peppers, only contain 10mg of calcium per 100 grams. You can find a list of other low-calcium vegetables here.
Overall, the calcium content is not a significant concern if your guinea pig has no calcium-related health concerns. If your guinea pig has had previous issues with stones and bladder sludge, it may be a good idea to leave cabbage off the menu. However, many other leafy greens are more of a calcium concern than cabbage.
Allergies or Bad Reactions to the New Food
Like with other foods, there is always a chance that your guinea pig is allergic or has a bad reaction to cabbage. This is rare, but it’s always important to introduce new foods gradually and keep an eye on your guinea pig in case they have an adverse reaction.
How Often Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage?
Guinea pigs can eat a leaf or two of cabbage a couple of times a week. Be sure to introduce this veggie into the diet slowly to prevent bloating or stomach upsets.
Due to the gassy nature of cabbage, it’s best not to feed it to your guinea pig daily. It also contains a moderate amount of calcium, so avoid giving it to your piggy at the same time as you feed other high-calcium veggies like arugula, collard greens, dill, thyme, etc.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Cabbage?
Many guinea pigs are drawn to the leafy texture of cabbage and love it immediately. However, some may only take a few nibbles initially and start eating more over time.
It’s best to introduce cruciferous vegetables in small amounts, so don’t be too discouraged if your guinea pig takes a few bites and walks away. Keep offering small bits of cabbage every couple of days, and they will likely come to accept it more over time.
Different varieties also have different tastes, so if your guinea pig doesn’t love one kind, it may be worth trying another type.
Of course, all guinea pigs will have their own preferences, likes, and dislikes. If your piggy doesn’t like cabbage after multiple attempts, you can always try foods like lettuce, radicchio, spinach, endive, turnip, or Swiss chard instead.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Red Cabbage?
Guinea pigs can eat red cabbage, and it’s one of the best varieties for them. Red cabbage is more nutrient-dense, with higher levels of Vitamin C. It also contains marginally more calcium than green or savoy but much less than Chinese cabbage.
Red cabbage also contains anthocyanins, which give this cabbage its deep purple color. These compounds have many great health benefits.
They have been shown to reduce blood pressure, lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. Red cabbage contains more than 36 different types of anthocyanins, making it exceptional for heart health.
Red cabbage is also higher in potassium than other varieties. Potassium plays a critical role in the body, including regulating fluid in the body and flushing out excess sodium.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Green Cabbage?
Green cabbage is easily the most popular and beloved type of cabbage used in salads and side dishes worldwide.
Regular green cabbage is perfectly safe for guinea pigs to eat. It is vitamin-rich and high in antioxidants, just like the other varieties.
It is slightly lower than red cabbage in Vitamin C and calcium content, but the difference is relatively insignificant.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Savoy Cabbage?
Guinea pigs can safely eat savoy cabbage, along with the other cabbage varieties. Savoy cabbage is easily distinguished by its wrinkly leaves and mild flavor. Some guinea pigs may prefer this variety over others due to the taste. Savoy cabbage contains less Vitamin C and calcium than green and red cabbage. However, it is still a reasonable source of Vitamin C and other nutrients.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Chinese Cabbage?
Chinese cabbage is safe to feed guinea pigs, but it is not the best choice for them. Chinese cabbage is almost 2.5 times as high in calcium compared to other common varieties. The Vitamin C content is similar to red cabbage, which is significantly lower in calcium.
For this reason, it’s best to limit the feeding of Chinese cabbage and stick to other types of cabbage for your guinea pigs. If you feed Chinese cabbage to your piggy, limit the quantity to small amounts once a week or less.
Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Cabbage?
Baby guinea pigs over six weeks old can be introduced to cabbage gradually. Be sure to start slow and offer just a tiny piece of leaf initially.
Baby guinea pigs have a sensitive stomach that is still adapting to new things, so don’t go overboard with gassy-type veggies like cabbage.
You can gradually increase the amount over time if your piggy has no adverse reactions to the new food. Cabbage contains a good balance of calcium and Vitamin C for growing guinea pigs, so it’s a healthy choice as long as they show no signs of stomach problems.
How to Prepare and Feed Cabbage to Your Guinea Pig
To feed cabbage to your guinea pig, start by choosing some healthy leaves that are not rotting or overly wilted. Rinse the leaves thoroughly under cool water to remove tiny bugs or traces of dirt and pesticides. Be sure to remove the stem before offering some cabbage to your piggy.
Always feed your guinea pig raw, uncooked cabbage. Cooked vegetables lose many of their nutrients and are also more challenging for guinea pigs to digest than raw.
If your guinea pig has never had cabbage before, introduce it into the diet slowly. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage are more likely to cause gas or stomach upsets if offered in large amounts.
Start with part of a leaf at first. You can offer it from your hand or leave it in the cage for your piggies to test out at their own pace. Make sure they have plenty of hay available and avoid introducing more than one new type of food at a time.
Sometimes guinea pigs take a bit of time to adapt and try a new type of food, so if they don’t eat it right away, try it for a few more days. It also often helps to give the new veggie separately from their regular vegetables (i.e., new veggie in the morning, regular veggies at night.) Guinea pigs are often more willing to try something if they have fewer options.
Observe your guinea pig for several hours after they try the new food. As long as there’s no diarrhea or odd behavior, you can gradually increase the amount of cabbage next time.
More Fruits and Vegetables That Guinea Pigs Can Eat
Did you know that guinea pigs can also eat parsnips, oregano, and sweet potatoes?
These foods all contain various nutrients that can boost your guinea pig’s health in numerous ways. They can also eat mango, cantaloupe, pineapple, and so much more.
For a complete list of all the fruits and vegetables that guinea pigs can eat, check out our article, Complete List of Safe Foods for Guinea Pigs.