Dandelions are such a powerfully healthy food, yet it’s still scorned with the title of simply “weed” to so many people! However, having dandelions grow in your yard provides a free superfood for both you and yes, your guinea pigs.
The young leaves of dandelion are packed full of nutrients and are much more palatable than the older leaves which become more coarse. This is the best time to eat them, and the best time to give your guinea pigs access to them.
They can forage in the yard (provided no chemicals of any sort have been used), or simply pick the dandelions for them – the entire plant is safe including flowers and even the root.
Dandelion leaves are however high in calcium, so unlike with us, guinea pigs should only eat them sparingly. How often you provide dandelion, considering its calcium content, also really depends on just what other foods you’re giving that might also contain high levels of calcium: combining too many calcium-rich foods together on the one day is obviously not ideal and puts guinea pigs at risk of kidney stones.
So keep this in mind when considering dandelion greens in particular, so you can balance out the calcium-containing food that are being offered.
You can buy dandelion greens from some grocers and health food stores, but not everywhere stocks it (some people still haven’t realized what a wonderful food this is for humans!).
Of course, picking those dandelion “weeds” from the garden is the cheapest and freshest option – if you’re lucky enough to have them growing. Just make absoultely sure no weed killers, fertilizers or any other chemicals have been used, and that the ground hasn’t been soiled by other animals before you go picking those fresh dandelions (or allow them to forage) that most guinea pigs just love.
Keep in mind that there are a bunch of other plant species that can look very similar to dandelion, and which also have a habit of popping up as lawn weeds. Most of these are also safe, but it’s best to be safe than sorry so always ensure you know what’s growing before allowing guinea pigs to get into it!