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Here’s an interesting question that many guinea pig owners have wondered, Can guinea pigs eat oatmeal?
When you think of breakfast, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Cereal or oats, of course! Today, we will discuss whether or not our guinea pigs can eat oats. Oats have proven to be very healthy for us humans, so let’s see if the same is valid for guinea pigs.
Can guinea pigs eat oatmeal?
Oats, also known as “groats,” are highly starchy cereal grains that we have come to love, hate, and enjoy for ages.
Once the oat grains are hulled, then we refer to them as oatmeal.
There are different kinds of oatmeals, but for the clarity of this article, we’ll general all oats to be the same. Although Oats are pretty starchy, it’s high in more digestive starch than many other starch foods.
So, can guinea pigs eat oats? The unarguable answer is No, guinea pigs cannot and do not need to eat oats unless in rare cases. Let’s explain.
Firstly, Guinea pigs are herbivores and not grain-eaters.
Secondly, oats are high in phosphorus, amounting to 458 mg of phosphorus per 100g. Phosphorus is a mineral that is notoriously known to cause damage to the urinary system.
In addition, oats are also rich in carbohydrates and other nutrients that can cause rapid weight gain.
Weight gain is only “good,” but only if your guinea pig is exceptionally underweight.
This is the same reason why some veterinarians may recommend feeding oats to guinea pigs, in rare cases when the guinea pig is too thin; However, oats (or oatmeal) are not suitable for a healthy guinea pig.
Oats, which are seemingly the healthiest breakfast to us humans, may not be suitable nor nutritious food for our pet guinea pigs. It is only acceptable to serve oats to your guinea pig only if it’s severely underweight or, in worse cases, if the guinea pig has cancer and is losing its appetite in the process.
Health benefits of oats for guinea pigs
These are some health benefits of oats when they’re mixed with pellets or sprinkled in moderate amounts through the pellets, but this only applies to guinea pigs with health or weight issues.
Oats are very beneficial for thin guinea pigs or guinea pigs that do not consume the daily calorific requirement; however, in such cases, it’ll be best to consult your vet before you introduce it to your guinea pig.
Thicker coat (for guinea pigs suffering from hair loss and skin problems) – Many owners claim that they give their guinea pigs oats for skin problems and hair loss based on veterinary recommendations. It gives guinea pigs a brighter, thicker coat and softer skin under bald patches.
Just a few sprinkles of oats on the pellets are enough. Twice a week is a standard frequency; this will help if your guinea pig is losing fur or if the skin under the coat is dry.
Also, as mentioned earlier, if your guinea pig is severely underweight, your veterinarian may recommend the same oats – they are high in calories and carbohydrates, weight gain will occur quickly.
The nutritional content of oats
- High in calories: Oats contain almost 400 calories per 100g, which, frankly, is a lot to feed to such a pet as a guinea pig.
- High in carbohydrates: Like the calories mentioned above, oats are particularly rich in carbohydrates and protein. There is 66.3g of carbohydrates in every 100g of oat. This is a great nutritional addition for humans to start the day, but for guinea pigs.
- High in protein: Oats contain about 16.9g of protein per 100g; this is also high for guinea pigs.
- High fiber: Oats are rich in fiber, containing 10.6g per 100g, which is beneficial for good digestion. However, in guinea pigs, too much fiber can lead to indigestion or loose stools.
- Fat: They contain a moderate amount of fat at 6.9g/100g; beneficial and promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
Some more data about oat nutrients
- Thiamine (Vitamin B): 51%/100g. This vitamin converts carbohydrates into energy. This is essential for oats because they are rich in carbohydrates. In addition, this vitamin keeps the heart, nerves, and muscles healthy.
- Vitamin B6: 6%/100g. This vitamin produces more serotonin, a hormone that promotes well-being. In addition, it helps with sleep and reduces anxiety.
- Calcium: 54mg/100g of oats. This calcium constituent is only beneficial to guinea pig litter that requires calcium to grow their bones stronger. Excessive calcium for adult guinea pigs will lead to UTIs.
- Iron: 26% for every 100g of oats. This compound prevents anemia and keeps the blood healthy.
- Magnesium: 44%/100g of oats. Magnesium is a mineral that reduces and eliminates pain throughout the body, especially in the muscles and heart muscle. Thus, it also helps maintain a healthy heart!
- Phosphorus: 52%/100g of oats. This is almost identical to calcium, as they work together to form strong bones. However, it has the same adverse effects on guinea pigs as calcium.
- Zinc: 26%/100g of oats. This nutrient also enhances the immune system and all metabolic functions. It also helps speed up wound healing.
- Manganese: Oats contain Over 200% of manganese per 100g. This compound is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of diseases caused by free radical damage.
- No cholesterol: This is healthy for the cardiovascular system, but given that the risks outweigh the benefits, the benefits of oats for guinea pigs are still modest.
Can guinea pigs eat oatmeal – The Risks
- Risk of unhealthy weight (risk of obesity, calories, carbohydrates) – We mentioned that oats are high in calories and carbohydrates.
- Calories and carbohydrates are significant contributors to obesity or weight gain. If your guinea pigs are of average weight, it’s obvious why oats are not good food for them – they get chubby, and it’s not just an aesthetic issue. It affects the heart and the entire metabolism.
- Urinary problems: Oats contain calcium and phosphorus. These nutrients may be good for the bones, but they are only suitable for guinea pigs when they are young and still growing.
- If the guinea pig is fully grown, these compounds can lead to bladder and kidney stones, painful urination, blood in the urine, and the risk of frequent urinary tract infections. If left untreated, they can lead to death by kidney failure!
- Indigestion: Oats are also rich in fiber. An average amount of fiber facilitates bowel movements and rapid digestion. However, excessive or large amounts of fiber can injure a guinea pig’s stomach, or they may cause loose stools and digestive pain.
Interesting Facts about oats
- Oats are primarily considered livestock food, but 5% of the world’s oats are used as a breakfast food.
- National Oats Day is October 29th
- There is also an oat month – January
- Oats are mainly used in oatmeal cookies and oatmeal breakfasts, and eventually in meatloaf!
- The ancient Greeks were the first to make oatmeal from oats
- Oats originated in Western Europe, where they were grown like a weed
- President George Washington planted acres of oats on his farm in Mount Vernon
Hopefully, this article will help you answer the question “can guinea pigs eat oatmeal?”
From all of us at petcaneat.com, we wish you a happy reading and happy pet life!