Can guinea pigs eat apples? Dietary advice and feeding tips

Can guinea pigs eat apples
(Image credit: Getty Images)

They offer many health benefits for humans but can guinea pigs eat apples as well? It's a question you may well have asked as you gaze at your fruit bowl but, in the same way as you may ponder can guinea pigs eat grapes?, you may worry that you're putting your pet in danger.

After all, don't guinea pigs tend to only eat grass and hay to aid their digestive system, gain nutrition and keep their teeth in check? 

Here, we're going to address the issue and see if you can incorporate apples as a tasty treat for your fur friend. 

Are apples good for guinea pigs?

Apples contain a decent amount of nutrition. Although more than 85 percent is made up of water, a typical raw apple has 4.6 milligrams of Vitamin C per 100 grams, for instance, and, given guinea pigs generally need about 10 milligrams, that's a good chunk of their recommended daily allowance. 

Apples also contain B-complex vitamins including riboflavin, thiamin and vitamin B-6, the latter helping signals to travel from one nerve cell to another. 

By giving guinea pigs a slice of apple together with its peel, you're also providing lots of fiber, making apples a great digestive aid. 

In fact, the peel includes a third of an apple's total fiber and it also contains an abundance of vitamin K which plays a role in the building of bones and blood clotting. With high levels of vitamin E which helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes, there are clear benefits to eating apples. There's also an abundance of fiber in the core, too.

When are apples bad for guinea pigs?

As with any food, there is a chance your pet can have too much of a good thing and, in the case of apples, moderation is definitely key! 

For starters, 10 percent of an apple's weight is made up of sugar (that's 10 grams for every 100 grams of the fruit). While most of it is in the form of naturally occurring fructose, guinea pigs are not great at processing sugar. It can affect their gut flora and lead to a growth of harmful bacteria.

One thing's for sure, you should never give an guinea pig a full apple. You should also use apples as treats rather than a daily food. 

The type of apple is also important. It's best to stick to the less acidic varieties – that is, those which are not green (green apples are not dangerous but they can cause stomach upsets). Certainly, don't give guinea pigs those ultra-tart cooking apples and don't give them cooked apples either.

You should also be wary of the seeds. Now, you may well have read that apple seeds are really bad for guinea pigs because they can cause choking or because they contain amygdalin which, when chewed and digested releases cyanide. 

In truth, your guinea pig is very unlikely to choke on a seed and the cyanide quantities are minute. Yet, if in doubt, it's best to leave them out. There's no point in taking a risk, however, small. Likewise, don't worry if your guinea pig does end up eating a seed or two every now and then.

Can guinea pigs eat apples?

(Image credit: Getty)

Tips on feeding your guinea pig apples

So now we've established that your pets are fine to eat (mainly) red apples in moderation, how should you feed them this fruit and ensure they remain fit and healthy? 

After all, if you've ever wondered how long do guinea pigs live?, you'll find they'll go on for longer if they eat appropriately. 

  • Pick a couple of days each week for their apple treat. If you identify set days, you are more likely to be able to moderate how much apple they end up consuming each week.

  • Cut the apple into small chunks and only give them a small portion at at a time. Perhaps aim for a quarter of an apple's worth at the very most.

  • Give your guinea pig some apple leaves too. If your apple has a leaf on the stalk pass it on to your pet. If you have an apple tree, give them some leaves from that too!

Summary

People have been feeding apples to guinea pigs for many years without any problems. So long as you don't go overboard and stick to fresh apples (rather than cooked), you will be giving your pet all the benefits of this fruit while minimizing any potential dangers. 

You will also likely find that your guinea pig enjoys their treat and there's great pleasure to be had in knowing that.

David Crookes has been a journalist for more than 20 years and he has written for a host of magazines, newspapers, websites and books including World of Animals, BBC Earth, Dogs and Canines, Gadget and The Independent. Born in England, he lives in a household with two cats but he’s also keenly interested in the differences between the huge number of dog breeds — in fact, you can read many of his breed guides here on PetsRadar. With a lifelong passion for technology, too, he’s always on the lookout for useful devices that will allow people to spend more time with their pets.