Guinea pigs should not eat saltine crackers because they will have difficulty handling the starch. Keep an eye on your guinea pig if it gets its hands on a cracker. Watch for signs of illness or bloat. One cracker is unlikely to cause major harm.
You’re munching down on some saltine crackers and wondering if your little guinea pig friend can have some. Well, here’s the scoop on whether you can feed saltine crackers to your guinea pig.
Just because we snack on unhealthy foods simply because they taste good doesn’t mean we should create these same unhealthy eating habits in our pets.
Think about it: Americans are increasingly overweight. Guinea pigs are already prone to obesity with the amount of food they consume. Let’s not make it worse!
A guinea pig shouldn’t eat saltine crackers, and here’s why.
What You'll Learn
Sensitive Digestive Systems
An improper diet can lead to bloat within the gastrointestinal tract. Bloat is excess gas or fluid in the digestive system, which can quickly lead to an emergency situation and even death for guinea pigs.
One major cause of bloat in guinea pigs is the consumption of starch. Saltine crackers are high in starch.
Finicky Eaters With Preferences
Guinea pigs are strict herbivores. They like fresh, plant-based foods and will steer clear of unknown foods, unlike their rodent cousins (mice and rats), who will chew just about anything and everything in sight.
In fact, guinea pigs typically stay away from super salty or sweet foods (they clearly know what’s best for them).
Saltine crackers are also highly processed. Because saltine crackers are so processed (they are meant to be super absorbent so we can eat them with soup), there’s a good chance that a guinea pig will not even want to eat them.
Creatures of Habit
Guinea pigs have food preferences, and they are not big fans of change. A change in diet can lead to a refusal to eat.
Feeding saltine crackers could upset them to the point of malnutrition. In fact, Sharon L. Vanderlip, the author of The Guinea Pig Handbook, says that even changing their feeding dish can “seriously upset your small companion.” Geez! They are finicky little critters.
What to Do if Your Guinea Pig Consumed a Saltine Cracker
First and foremost, just breathe! It’s probably not the end of the world if you slipped your little pig a small bite.
Keep an eye on your guinea pig and provide plenty of water and regular food for them.
Here are some things you should watch out for.
Watch for unusual behaviors. There could be a problem if your guinea pig is normally curious and happy but suddenly hides or wants to be alone. Think about what you do when you’re sick. Animals exhibit similar behaviors when they are not feeling well.
Signs of bloat include weakness, decreased stool production, heavy breathing, and restless movements. Bloat can be extremely painful for your little guinea pig. Think about when you’re bloated. You may keel over or hold your stomach, wishing you didn’t have to breathe.
Remember, bloat can become serious quickly, so if your guinea pig shows signs of bloat, you may need to take a trip to your veterinarian.
A sure sign of bloat, and reason for immediate action, is swelling around the rib cage.
What Can Guinea Pigs Eat?
Guinea pigs are big eaters and for good reason. They are active and alert for most of the day, chewing, playing, and ensuring they are safe from danger. I’m sure you’ve noticed they barely sleep at night.
To keep them going, provide your guinea pig with a well-rounded diet. They should have access to various foods, like the ones listed below.
Hay is a major component of a guinea pig diet. It should be constantly available to your guinea pig.
Not only is hay a significant source of fiber, but the constant chewing will keep them mentally stimulated.
Aside from that, their teeth are constantly growing! Chewing keeps their teeth worn down, preventing overgrowth, leading to dental issues and even starvation.
Last, the fiber in hay keeps their digestive systems flowing properly.
Guinea Pig Food
Guinea pig food is also very important in your guinea pig’s diet. Guinea pig food provides balanced nutrition. Guinea pigs need a certain amount of vitamins and minerals every day, and guinea pig food is formulated with the exact amounts needed for your little pig.
Fresh vegetables provide great fiber and vitamin C (among many other vital nutrients for your pet).
Did you know guinea pigs cannot produce vitamin C on their own? This is why feeding guinea pig food, along with fresh vegetables, is critical for your guinea pig’s overall health.
When feeding fresh vegetables, ensure the vegetables are washed. Guinea pigs can be sensitive to harsh chemicals and pesticides.
Guinea pigs can also benefit from the nutrients in fruit, but they can only eat small amounts due to the sugar content. Like starch, sugar can contribute to bloating as well as obesity and diabetes. Give fruit only occasionally (like once or twice a week).
Saltine Crackers Are a No Go
Don’t feed saltine crackers to your guinea pig. Understand that animals do not have an emotional connection to food like humans do. They don’t crave crackers and chips. They don’t HAVE to have that chocolate dessert (they REALLY can’t eat chocolate, so don’t even go there)!
Sure, they may look at you like they want some; however, refrain from giving them these salty processed foods.
A guinea pig’s digestive system will thank you. The starch in saltine crackers is too much for your little pig to handle.
If your guinea pig got his hands on a cracker, keep an eye on him. Watch for signs of illness or bloat. Bloat can quickly lead to death for a guinea pig.
Ensure your little pig has the food he really needs, like hay, guinea pig food, and fresh fruits and vegetables.