Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes?
More tomatoes are produced worldwide than any other fruit. Currently, there are more than 20,000 different varieties of tomatoes. They are also low in calories and rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and vitamin K. But what is healthy for humans is not always advisable for our pets, especially guinea pigs, which have such a sensitive stomach. It can be difficult to determine which fruits and vegetables are best, safe, and healthy for guinea pigs to eat.
This is why, in the following oneHOWTO article, you will learn if guinea pigs can eat tomatoes and how to give it to them.
Is tomato good for guinea pigs?
Before we get into the issue if tomatoes are good for guinea pigs or not, we need to make an important note about their diet. Guinea pigs are herbivores whose diet must consist of three basic components in the following proportions:
- Hay (70%)
- Fresh food (20%)
- Feed (10%)
Within the Fresh Food category, the majority (75%) should be leafy vegetables. By leafy vegetables we mean spinach, chard, arugula, lettuce, escarole, watercress, kale, and kohlrabi, among others. The remaining 25% must consist of other vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes can be included in this small percentage of fresh food, as they are safe for guinea pigs.
Tomato has numerous nutritional properties and, moreover, does not contain compounds toxic to the organism of guinea pigs. However, there are a number of considerations that must be taken into account if we want to safely include tomatoes in our guinea pig's diet, which we will explain in the following sections.
If you want to know more about guinea pig diet, do not miss this article where we talk about the foods that are forbidden for guinea pigs.
Benefits of tomato for guinea pigs
The inclusion of tomatoes in the diet of guinea pigs may provide important health benefits due to their nutritional properties, which are the following:
- Dietary fiber: tomatoes provide a moderate amount of dietary fiber, which is a basic nutrient for guinea pig digestive health.
- Vitamin C: They contain a significant amount of vitamin C, an important micronutrient for guinea pigs. As with humans, the guinea pig's body is unable to synthesize vitamin C on its own, so it must obtain this vitamin from its diet to avoid a deficiency known as scurvy.
- Vitamin A: a basic micronutrient for the proper functioning of the vision and immune system of guinea pigs.
- Lycopenes: tomatoes are known for their content of lycopenes, compounds with strong antioxidant activity that can protect cells from free radical damage, slow aging and even prevent the development of cancerous tumors.
In this other article, you can learn more about why vitamin C is so important for guinea pig health and how to give it to them.
Tomato dosage for guinea pigs
As we have already mentioned, tomato is a suitable vegetable for guinea pigs. However, it is not on the list of vegetables that guinea pigs should consume daily because it can be counterproductive, even harmful if consumed in excess. We can offer the tomato at most twice a week.
In terms of quantity, a cherry tomato or a slice of a regular tomato is more than enough for a guinea pig.
How to give tomato to my guinea pig?
If you offer this vegetable to your guinea pig, you must follow the recommendations below:
- Be sure to remove any leaves or twigs when offering tomatoes to your guinea pig, as they contain solanine, a substance toxic to guinea pigs.
- The tomato should only be offered fresh, do not cook it.
- It is important that the tomato offered is ripe and at room temperature.
- You must wash it well before offering it to your guinea pig to remove possible traces of impurities or pesticides.
- Next, you need to cut them into small pieces of about 0.5 inch (1 cm).
- Finally, it is important that you remove all the seeds because they contain a lot of calcium/phosphorus that contributes to the formation of stones in the urinary tract.
Side effects of tomato for guinea pigs
Although tomato is a suitable vegetable for guinea pigs, it can have some negative effects on their health if not fed properly:
- The leaves and stems contain solanine, a toxic substance that produces loss of appetite, depression, weakness, hypersalivation, digestive problems, mydriasis and bradypnea.
- The seeds have an inverse calcium-phosphorus ratio, which promotes the formation of urinary stones.
- Excessive consumption of this vegetable can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence, etc.
- Tomatoes contain high amounts of sugar, which can cause diseases such as diabetes and obesity, especially in older guinea pigs.
If you notice that your guinea pig is acting differently than usual, they may be reacting to something in their diet. Continue reading this article to learn more about how to tell if your guinea pig is sick.
Tomato contraindications for guinea pigs
There are certain situations in which administration may be counterproductive.
- While it is rare, some guinea pigs do react to various fruits and vegetables, and tomatoes are no exception. Keep a close eye on your pet when you first offer them tomatoes, and watch for symptoms of an allergic reaction.
- Do not give your guinea pig tomatoes if it is already suffering from urinary tract infections or kidney stones. The high content of citric acid in tomatoes can aggravate the situation.
- Do not give tomatoes to baby guinea pigs; only adult guinea pigs can safely eat and digest tomatoes.
When tomatoes are introduced into the diet of guinea pigs, they should be offered in small amounts for 2 days in a row. If negative health effects are observed, the tomato should be removed from the diet. If the symptoms persist, you should talk to your veterinarian about it.
If you want to read similar articles to Can Guinea Pigs Eat Tomatoes?, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.
- Spanish Nutrition Foundation (FEN). Tomato, Lycopersicom spp . Available at: https://www.fen.org.es/MercadoAlimentosFEN/pdfs/tomate.pdf