Also known as coriander in some parts of the world, cilantro is a common herb used in cooking to add flavor and aroma to food. Due to its green color and easy availability, many people think about whether it would make a tasty meal for their guinea pigs.
Yes, guinea pigs can consume cilantro. Cilantro provides many benefits to guinea pigs due to its enriched vitamin and mineral profile. Cilantro can be given as a whole to guinea pigs and can also be mixed with other veggies to make your guinea pig a salad.
Is Cilantro Safe For Guinea Pigs?
It is safe to feed your guinea pig cilantro but you should do so sparingly. Cilantro contains high amounts of vitamin A and too much of this vitamin can be toxic for your guinea pig. It can result in liver failure among other health issues with your cavy.
How to Prepare & Feed Your Guinea Pig Cilantro
You can prepare cilantro in many ways. Most often owners will introduce cilantro in the form of salad or mixed in with other vegetables or fruits.
You’ll want to make sure you fully wash cilantro herbs and thinly slice it into small, bite-sized chunks. To see if your guinea pig likes cilantro, try feeding them small pieces before mixing it in with their other food.
It’s best to avoid dried cilantro and it’s not part of a normal diet for guinea pigs. You should avoid frozen cilantro unless you thoroughly thaw it out before feeding it to your guinea pig.
How Often Can You Feed Cilantro to Your Guinea Pig?
Most of the cilantro herb is very beneficial to guinea pigs. However, just like with other common fruits and vegetables, you’ll want to limit how much you give them to avoid overeating and to give them a wide variety of foods and nutrients.
The best foods for guinea pigs help fill gaps in their diet, such as giving your guinea pig more vitamin C.
Begin by feeding your guinea pig cilantro every few days and use it sparingly as if you were to “season” their food. Avoid giving cilantro to baby guinea pigs until their internal organs have fully developed around 9-12 months.
Parts of Cilantro That Guinea Pigs Can Eat
Leaves of cilantro contain the most abundance of nutrients and are considered safe for consumption by guinea pigs.
Stems are also considered safe but they should not be offered as a whole. It’s best to chop the stems into bite-size pieces before feeding them to guinea pigs.
Roots and seeds of cilantro should be avoided due to the presence of a chemical compound known as furanocoumarin which is toxic for guinea pigs.
Flowers of cilantro are not considered safe as well due to the presence of a toxic substance known as coriandrol. The consumption of cilantro is preferred before it starts flowering because of its increased tenderness and abundant nutrients.
Benefits of Cilantro for Guinea Pigs
Due to the high number of benefits, cilantro is a good addition to the diet of cavies. Below are many of the primary benefits to feeding your guinea pig cilantro:
- Abundant vitamins – Cilantro is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. These vitamins are very important for the health of guinea pigs. These vitamins are required by guinea pigs for the healthy function of their organs. Without the proper dosage of these vitamins guinea pigs are prone to a lot of diseases some of which can be fatal for them as well. Feeding cilantro is a good way to eliminate deficiencies of certain vitamins in cavies.
- Abundant minerals – As cilantro is a green herb it is rich in minerals like potassium and zinc. These minerals are important for guinea pigs in many ways. Zinc helps guinea pigs maintain healthy reproductive systems. Potassium is required for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the development of bones.
- High fiber – Cilantro has very little cholesterol and high fiber which is very good for the gut health of guinea pigs. Low carbohydrate ratio and low-fat help improve the heart health of guinea pigs as well.
- Improved eyesight – Due to the abundance of vitamin A, cilantro helps improve the eyesight of guinea pigs.
- Improved growth – Nutrients present in cilantro help the physical growth of cavies. An occasional feeding of cilantro helps balance out the diet so the availability of all the nutrients is ensured.
- Tissue repair – Vitamins in cilantro help repair the tissues in the bodies of guinea pigs.
- Fewer chances of scurvy – Guinea pigs that are fed cilantro have fewer chances of developing scurvy. Scurvy is a very painful and debilitating disease of guinea pigs that occurs due to the deficiency of vitamin C in the body. But feeding cilantro will lower the incidence of this disease in cavies.
- Immune booster – The excellent nutrient profile of cilantro helps boosts the immune system of guinea pigs. Feeding cilantro with other greens and vegetables increases the availability of certain substances which are required for the proper functioning of the immune system.
- Stimulant – Like mint, cilantro is also a powerful stimulant. If your guinea pig is lethargic and feeling lazy feeding cilantro might help. Chemical compounds in cilantro can help with blood flow and stimulate the body of your little critter.
- Reduce inflammation in the body – If your guinea pig is suffering from recurrent diseases and is not feeling well adding cilantro to its diet may reduce its agony due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Cilantro is also helpful for guinea pigs with arthritis.
- Lower blood sugar level – Due to the low carbohydrate ratio, cilantro helps control the blood sugar levels, especially for those guinea pigs who are obese or dealing with increased body weight. However, further research is required to confirm this quality.
- Antioxidant – The presence of antioxidants in cilantro helps guinea pigs free their bodies from certain toxins and reduce cellular damage. Antioxidants also help prevent certain diseases in guinea pigs.
Health Risks of Feeding Cilantro to Guinea Pigs
If you overfeed your guinea pig cilantro you can introduce several common health risks guinea pigs face. If you’re seeing any of these with your guinea pig as you feed them cilantro you should start to lessen how often you’re feeding it to your guinea pig.
A few common health concerns with cilantro:
- Allergic reactions – one of the most common side effects of feeding cilantro is an allergic reaction. Some guinea pigs are allergic to cilantro, so it is best to offer a small amount of cilantro at first and if your guinea pig displays any signs of allergy like restlessness, red eyes, diarrhea, etc stop offering cilantro in the diet.
- Uroliths (Bladder and kidney stones) – Due to the high mineral ratio cilantro often becomes the cause of bladder stones in guinea pigs. High amounts of calcium and oxalates in cilantro are the prime causes of uroliths. Although occasional feeding doesn’t contribute to this issue if your guinea pig has a history of urinary problems it’s best to avoid cilantro in the diet.
- Bloat – Cilantro can be difficult to digest for guinea pigs if overfed. Due to this difficulty, it can build up in the system resulting in bloat. Bloat can be a very painful condition for guinea pigs. As cavies have a sensitive digestive system it is best to offer a small portion of cilantro at a time.
- Diarrhea – Diarrhea is also a common condition resulting due to feeding of cilantro. If you observe loose stool or diarrhea stop offering cilantro to your guinea pigs and look for a better alternative instead. If diarrhea doesn’t stop even after discontinuing cilantro, seek veterinary help for your pet because continuous diarrhea can lead to fatal dehydration in the body of your pet.
- Impaction and Choking – Although rare, this can occur due to lazy and poor management from the owners. Feeding cilantro as a whole can lead to this unfortunate condition.
- Toxicity – Feeding cilantro in high amounts can cause vitamin A toxicity in guinea pigs which can contribute to liver failure. If you have fed seeds and flowers of this herb to your pet they can also contribute to the toxicity of specific compounds present in each of them.
Best Alternatives to Cilantro for Guinea Pigs
There are many healthy alternatives available for cilantro which are equally beneficial for guinea pigs and pose fewer health risks. Some of these can even be used as staple food sources for cavies.
Good alternatives to cilantro are:
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Swiss chard
- Beet greens
Article Sources & Research
- Cosgrove, N. (2022, July 22). Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cilantro? What You Need to Know! Pet Keen. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://petkeen.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-cilantro/
- Rhodes, T. (2022, April 28). Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cilantro? (Serving Size, Benefits & More). My Pet Guinea Pig. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://mypetguineapig.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-cilantro/