Not only can Guinea pigs eat grass from outside, but a varied grass diet is actually good for them. However, you’ll need to take certain precautions to ensure your pet is munching this delicious snack safely.
This article will outline the benefits of eating grass, precautions you should take when introducing your guinea pig to grass from the outside, and what to do if you suspect your Guinea pig has ingested something they shouldn’t have. It’s always good to be prepared, just in case something goes awry.
What You'll Learn
Benefits of Eating Outside Grass
Having grass as a staple in your Guinea pig’s diet has many benefits. First, it is healthy for them. Grass is high in Vitamin C. Since Guinea pigs, much like humans, don’t produce their own vitamin C in their bodies, they need to consume it through the foods they eat and supplements.
Guinea pigs also need a high-fiber diet, so grass will also provide fiber for your pet’s sensitive digestive tracts.
Aside from the dietary benefits, eating grass has dental benefits. Chewing on outside grass with dirt and roots attached also helps your pig to file their teeth, preventing them from growing too long and potentially causing dental problems.
It’s also safe for Guinea pigs to eat any chickweed or dandelions that may grow in your grass, so you don’t need to monitor them so closely to make sure they’re only eating grass.
If you don’t have a lawn, you can grow your own grass from a kit. This works particularly well if you live in an apartment because you can grow the grass in your own home.
You’ll want to make sure that you provide a variety of grasses for your pet to nibble on; Timothy, western orchard, and brome grasses provide the proper variety for what your Guinea pig needs. You’ll have a very happy animal on your hands when it can have an unlimited supply of this delicious food staple.
In short, grass (even from outside) is so good for Guinea pigs you don’t even need to monitor how much it’s eating; it can eat as much as it wants!
Precautions to Take Before Eating Grass From The Outside
Introduce Grass Slowly
While it is natural and healthy for Guinea pigs to eat grass, if your pig has never had grass before, the food will need to be gradually introduced in its diet. Too much too fast can cause life-threatening diarrhea.
Start introducing grass into your pet’s diet by limiting the time on the lawn to just a few minutes. You might also control their consumption by pulling handfuls of grass (one to start) and adding it to their food bowls.
Add on minutes or handfuls each day until your Guinea pig enjoys as much of the grass as it wants. If you notice a change in the consistency of your pet’s feces, you’re likely giving it too much grass to start off with.
Should your pet be away from the lawn for more than a week, you’ll want to reintroduce the grass using the same process outlined above. Once grass has been introduced or reintroduced, your pig can eat it all day, every day.
Avoid Pesticides, Fertilizer, and Toxic Chemicals
Do not let your Guinea pig eat grass that has been treated with pesticides, fertilizer, or other toxic material. They are highly sensitive animals and they will feel the effects more acutely than a larger animal.
The downside to having grass that you don’t use chemicals on is that you may need to take your pig in for regular deworming; without pesticides, parasites may leave eggs on the very grass your Guinea pig is eating.
You’ll also want to ensure that your grass is urine-free; if your grass is an area that other pets or neighborhood strays use as their toilet, this is not appropriate for your Guinea pig to eat. Both pesticides and urine can make your Guinea pig very ill.
Avoid Wet Grass
Something else to consider is the wetness of the grass. Don’t put your Guinea pig down for time on the lawn right after watering; too much time on wet grass can actually cause skin infections.
If your Guinea pig does become wet, you’ll also want to dry it thoroughly to prevent respiratory illness.
Avoid Grass Clippings
Lastly, don’t let your Guinea pig eat grass clippings. The clippings can be swallowed whole, which might choke your pig. It can also cause digestive issues because it hasn’t been chewed properly.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Guinea Pig Has Ingested Poison
The best way to deal with this is to simply take preventative measures, such as ensuring that you’re not putting your Guinea pig on contaminated grass. Because of how small Guinea pigs are, even small amounts of chemicals can be deadly.
The behavior to look for is if your pig is salivating too much or pawing their mouth. They may also show signs of having difficulty breathing, or they may collapse. Whatever you do, do not try to make your Guinea pig vomit! Not only do they not have the ability to vomit, but you can do damage to their throat in your attempt to help.
The best thing to do in this situation is to, as quickly as possible, get your pig to the vet, bringing along the poison your pig has ingested. This way, the vet knows exactly what they’re working with.
Do your best to stay calm and soothe your Guinea pig in this stressful situation. Unfortunately, heart attacks are also common causes of death in Guinea pigs, so keeping them calm is actually a matter of life and death.
Just like any animal you bring into your home, you’ll need to monitor your Guinea pig’s consumption. You want to be prepared with an emergency vet on hand just in case something goes wrong.
Grass from the outside is safe for your Guinea pig to eat as long as you follow the aforementioned guidelines. Happy snacking!