Guinea pigs and yogurt? Can and should our piggies be eating any foods that contain yogurt?
You might have noticed products available labeled as guinea pig yogurt drops, yogurt chips or just yogurt treats. Are these just junk foods for guinea pigs or is it safe and healthy to feed them?
Yogurt treats for guinea pigs are made by some of the most well known brands, including Kaytee and Wild Harvest. That doesn’t mean we just go blindly feeding anything that comes from a brand you might already trust. It’s critical to take note of what these yogurt products are meant to be: treats, not staples in the diet.
But is it still safe and healthy to feed yogurt drops or Yogies to guinea pigs occasionally, or should we avoid it altogether? And what are the actual ingredients in them?
Don’t be surprised to look at the ingredients list of any of these products and find that they aren’t just straight up yogurt based treats. Most have a whole stack of ingredients – and some don’t contain any actual yogurt itself.
Take Wild Harvest Yogies for example. We can see some items in this ingredients list that you might rightly question whether they should be given to guinea pigs: Sugar,Palm Kernel Oil,Dried Whey,Dried Cultured Skim Milk,Nonfat Dry Milk Solids,Dextrose,FD&C Yellow Lake #6,Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier),Salt, Natural and Artificial Carrot Flavor
There’s a whole bunch of stuff here that clearly would never be part of a guinea pig’s natural diet. Yes, many many people purchase and provide treats like these to their guinea pigs. But have they really looked at the ingredients and considered the potential hazards?
Sugar is clearly an item that is not ideal for any animal to consume. Additionally, since guinea pigs are lactose intolerant, an ingredients list that contains a whole lot of dairy based items can raise the alarm. Simply taking this one example ingredients list, it’s hard to conclude that a product like this is anything more than candy – and should we be feeding our piggies candy? Many people would say no, and for good reasons. Your guinea pig won’t be missing out on anything by not being offered yogurt drops and similar products.
Remember: guinea pigs are grass eating browsers; their teeth simply aren’t made for candy-like processed foods, nor are their digestive tracts. Don’t be surprised to find some vets who say that these products are fine for guinea pigs – then check whether that vet is experienced with guinea pig care. You’ll be hard pressed to find an exotics or small animal specialist veterinarian who would ever recommend feeding yogurt treats or other processed sugar and dairy filled snacks to guinea pigs.
Most caring guinea pig parents will come to the conclusion that it’s not worth risking the health of your furry family members by providing processed, inappropriate treat products. Instead, try natural treats! Your guinea pig (and even your wallet) will be much happier and healthier for it.