Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheese?

Guinea Pigs May 12, 2022
Written by | Updated May 13, 2022
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Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cheese?

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Even though cheese might not be the best food for us, we humans tend to love the stuff. In sandwiches, melted on pizza, and enjoyed on top of crackers, cheese is a favorite component of many meals and snacks.

Since quite a few pets can have cheese, you’re probably wondering whether you can share a bit with your cavy.

Can guinea pigs have cheese? If so, how much cheese can they eat and how often can they have it?

If you’re searching for a quick answer, here it is: No! Guinea pigs should not eat cheese.

To find out why and learn which treats are best for your guinea pig, keep reading!

Cheese Nutritional Facts

Cheese isn’t good for guinea pigs, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it! Since different types of cheese offer different nutritional profiles, here’s a brief overview that covers some of the main nutrients found in cheese.

Many cheeses are good sources of:

  • protein
  • fat
  • omega-3 fatty acids (grass-fed varieties only)
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • vitamin A
  • B vitamins

Can Guinea Pigs Have Cheese?

No – guinea pigs cannot have cheese because they lack the necessary enzymes to digest it completely. Guinea pigs are lactose intolerant. Your little friend cannot have any dairy products.

Never give a guinea pig cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt or any other products made with milk or cream.

Is Cheese Good For Guinea Pigs?

No! Even though we humans can benefit from the protein and calcium that’s found in cheese, this food does nothing for guinea pigs. In fact, cheese can harm your guinea pig.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Cheese?

Guinea pigs are vegetarians. As herbivores, they prefer vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Since cheese is harmful to guinea pigs, we’ve never tried to convince one to try it.

How Much Cheese Can A Guinea Pig Eat?

None! Never give cheese to a guinea pig.

AgeAmount
Baby guinea pigNone
Adult guinea pigNone

You might be wondering why guinea pigs can’t eat cheese. There are a few reasons and all of them have to do with cheese’s basic components.

Cheese is high in fat and calcium. It is also high in animal protein. A guinea pig’s digestive tract is not optimized to digest these components.

Giving cheese to a guinea pig is a recipe for digestive distress. If you have accidentally given cheese to your guinea pig, keep a close eye on them.

Watch for signs of an upset tummy including bloating, restlessness, lethargy, constipation, or diarrhea. If your guinea pig has eaten cheese and any of these symptoms occur, it’s important to call your vet immediately.

How Often Can A Guinea Pig Eat Cheese?

We are pretty sure that you’ve guessed the answer to this question already!

Just to cover all our bases here it is:

Never! Cheese and other dairy products simply aren’t appropriate for guinea pigs.

The Correct Diet Is Important

Now that you know the truth about cheese for guinea pigs, you might find yourself asking “What do guinea pigs eat in the wild?”

Even though a guinea pig’s natural diet might sound fairly boring to us humans, it provides all the nutrition a guinea pig needs to thrive. Wild guinea pigs eat lots of little plants that grow close to the ground. Their preferred diet consists mostly of grasses, along with leafy, herbaceous plants and of the occasional wild berry.

It’s up to us to treat our pet guinea pigs to a diet with nutrients that meet their needs, similar to the foods they would eat in nature.

With your guinea pig’s good health in mind, here’s what to feed them every day:

  • Vitamin C-fortified guinea pig food – check the package to find the correct serving size.
  • Fresh hay – choose a variety of hay that is appropriate for guinea pigs and ensure that your pet has an unlimited supply.
  • Clean, fresh water – remember to rinse and refill your guinea pig’s drinking bottle every day.
  • Fresh veggies and fruits – about 1 cup of vegetables per day, mostly leafy greens. Tiny bits of fruit make special treats your guinea pig will enjoy.

While we’re on the topic of your guinea pig’s health, let’s talk dentistry. Don’t worry – taking care of your guinea pig’s teeth is very easy!

Just make sure that your pet always has access to something safe to chew.

There are quite a few different guinea pig toys on the market. It’s true that these are fun for your guinea pig and great for their mental health, but there’s one more reason to make sure that your guinea pig always has something to play with.

Chewing and nibbling keeps your guinea pig’s teeth from becoming overgrown, painful and maybe even infected.

What Are Some Healthy Alternatives To Cheese In A Guinea Pig’s Diet?

Besides the basics, what can you give your guinea pig? After all, cheese is off the menu!

Here are some guinea pig-approved treats your pet will enjoy:

  • Green beans
  • cucumber
  • butter lettuce
  • green leaf lettuce
  • tomato
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • peppermint
  • parsley
  • summer squash
  • Winter squash
  • pumpkin
  • zucchini
  • arugula
  • Apple
  • strawberry
  • bell pepper
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • asparagus

Even though this is quite the list, there are plenty of other natural foods you can offer your guinea pig when it’s time for a healthy treat.

As you discovered when you looked into the possibility of giving your guinea pig cheese, it only takes a few seconds to find information on every new food you plan to give your guinea pig. This is the best way to make sure you avoid potential toxins as well as foods that aren’t safe for guinea pigs.

For now, why not offer your guinea pig a slice of bell pepper or a fresh green bean? Both are yummy treats your pet will certainly approve of!

FAQ

Is cheese safe for guinea pigs?

No – it isn't safe to give cheese to a guinea pig. Guinea pigs cannot digest any dairy products and even a small amount of cheese can cause serious digestive distress.

Can cheese make my guinea pig sick?

Yes, unfortunately cheese can make your guinea pig very sick. No variety of cheese is safe for guinea pigs. Your guinea pig doesn't have the correct enzymes for digesting dairy products.
If your guinea pig has accidentally eaten cheese watch for signs of discomfort and diarrhea. Call your vet right away if your guinea pig seems unwell.

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Anne is a wellness writer with a lifelong love of animals large and small. As a former veterinary technician, she has a passion for your pet’s well-being. Anne rescues and rehabilitates animals in need. She shares her farm with lots of critters including horses, sheep, dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens.
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