One of the most important aspects of keeping pets is feeding them. Food, just as it is essential for man, is also necessary for pets. While humans are responsible for what they eat, pet owners have to be responsible for their pets. In simpler terms, the proper dieting of your pets lies in your hands.
The assignment of getting the proper food for your pet is quite crucial if that pet is a guinea pig. Guinea pigs are picky eaters. They will not eat anything unfamiliar. Hence, you have to introduce any food you intend to give them while they are still little.
Not just that, their digestive system is not meant to digest just anything. Guinea pigs are mainly herbivores. Yet not all herbs are ideal for them.
As a pet owner, you may wonder what to give them exactly. You may be asking, “Can guinea pigs eat basil?” Yes, guinea pigs can eat basil; however, it should be in small quantities.
Guinea pigs actually enjoy eating the herb, but you should not overlook the moderation. Why? Basil contains phosphorus and calcium, and these trace nutrients in excess amounts can cause urinary issues for the guinea pig.
In this article, we will learn in detail all about guinea pigs and basil.
What is Basil?
Basils are not just popular herbs; they are one of the oldest herbs known to man. They are used to make different kinds of meals and are adored for their oils with healing properties.
The most typical type of basil is the sweet basil. It smells and tastes sweet. Humans and animals can eat basils.
The leaves of these herbs are ovate and very green, their flowers white and small. Different varieties of basils have different smells because they do not all have the same essential oil.
Basils originated from the tropical regions of the world like India and Africa. But they can now be found in various parts of the world due to human migration.
Many people grow basils in gardens for their kitchen. Basils are used either fresh or dried. They are used to add flavour in stews and meats.
Some people also use them to make tea. The dryer the basil, the mintier it is. Pet owners who are also gardeners often wonder whether guinea pigs can eat basil.
Is Basil Dangerous to Guinea Pigs?
Basils are not dangerous to guinea pigs. Your pets can eat them. Basils have some vital nutrients that the guinea pigs need. Some of such nutrients are vitamin A and Vitamin C.
Before serving the guinea pigs with basils, wash the leaves properly to eliminate pesticides or mold. Cut them into smaller pieces and then give to the guinea pigs bit by bit.
Even though basils are nutritious for guinea pigs, you should not serve it in excess because they have calcium, a nutrient that guinea pigs do not require in large amounts.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Basil?
Can guinea pigs eat basil? As stated earlier, guinea pigs can eat basil, but it should not be in excess.
But aside from that, do guinea pigs love eating basil?
It is one thing for a particular food to be safe, and it is another for guinea pigs to appreciate such food.
Like we mentioned earlier, guinea pigs are very picky eaters. They will not want to eat just about anything. However, basils are safe for guinea pigs to eat, not all guinea pigs like eating the herbs.
Guinea pigs have different preferences. A particular pet would be excited at the prospect of the incredible herb, while another would be unimpressed. The pet may not even come near the basil.
To know if your pet loves basil, you have to put them to test. Take a small portion of the herb and serve them. Their reaction would tell you if you should continue or not.
If the guinea pig eats the basil, then congratulations, you can give them basil in the future but occasionally. If they do not touch the herb, then you know you should keep basils away from them.
Read Also: Why Canned Corn is Not Good for Guinea Pigs
Do Basils Elicit Allergic Reactions on Guinea Pigs?
Like humans who could react to certain foods, certain guinea pigs could be allergic to basils. When adding basils to the diet of the guinea pig, you have to watch it closely. If signs of allergy show up, then you have to withdraw the basil immediately.
First of all, start by giving your pets a small number of basils. When you do that, place them under profound observation. If there are signs of allergies or discomfort, do not give them the basil to eat again.
What Types of Basils Can You Feed Your Guinea Pigs?
Can guinea pigs eat basil? Yes. Can they eat just about any basil? No. Below, we will list the types of basil that are okay for the guinea pigs to eat.
Sweet Thai Basil
This is one of the safest basils to give guinea pigs. They are usually garden grown, and they have beautiful purple flowers.
The sweet basil is the most popular basil type. It is green in color and is very safe for a guinea pig to eat. It is delicious, and the type humans enjoy eating.
Just as the name gives away, the lemon basil has a lemon flavor. It is suitable for your pet. It is also one of the most favorite kinds of basil for the guinea pig.
There are two types of Genovese basil. The sweet Genovese and the dark-green Genovese. Your pet can nibble without harm.
Another guinea pig favorite. The taste of the purple basil varies from time to time. Sometimes it tastes sweet, other times it tastes like a clover.
Holy basils are touted to be a panacea for numerous illnesses. In some parts of the world, it is a crime to chew the holy basil. You only swallow.
The holy basil has many health benefits in humans and guinea pigs. They can improve the health of your guinea pig by preventing kidney issues, cold, and cough.
This is another garden-grown basil variety. It can even be grown in a pot due to their small size. Guinea pigs should be given green basil with other vegetables.
After the holy and sweet basil, the cinnamon basil is the next, in terms of healthiness. It is tasty and beautiful, with pink flowers and purple stems. You can surely feed these to your pets.
Nutritional Content of Basil
Basil is one of the healthiest herbs known to man. Humans celebrate basils for their taste and aroma. But the sweet smell and taste are not all that is to it.
Let us explore the nutritional contents of basil. For a 100 g or 3 oz serving of basil, here are the dietary contents:
- 4 milligrams of sodium: This means that basil has low salt content, the perfect food for the heart.
- 2 grams of protein: Low protein content for the gradual release of energy.
- 6 grams of fat: The low-fat content is also an advantage to the heart.
- 6 grams of fiber, which is just enough to help proper digestion and bowel movement.
- 23 calories.
- 3 grams of sugar: This is quite a healthy dose and does not cause an excessive increase in the glycaemic index.
- Contains a high amount of vitamin A, one of the most potent antioxidants known to man. It helps keep the immune system healthy and vision clear. It also combats inflammation and keeps the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin, and brain health.
- It also contains a high amount of calcium. This is for strong and healthy bones.
- The iron content is valuable for healthy blood cells.
- It contains vitamin C, which is vital for the health of the guinea pig.
- 5% Zinc content for healthy growth and DNA.
- Manganese, another antioxidant that controls the metabolisms of calcium and sugar and also strengthens connective tissues.
- Vitamin K for the quick healing of injuries and healthy bones.
- It also contains phosphorus, which helps to strengthen bones.
- Basil has magnesium that improves the workings of the heart muscles and bones.
Why Feed Your Guinea Pigs with Basil?
Are there reasons to feed guinea pigs with basil? Is there anything they stand to gain by eating basil? Yes. Basils are quite beneficial to the guinea pigs, and here is why.
Guinea pigs, like humans, cannot make all the vitamins they need. Not just that. Guinea pigs cannot store some vitamins either. This means that once the body takes the one it is using, it discards the rest. Hence, the guinea pig needs a constant supply of vitamins.
One of those vitamins they need is vitamin C. It is an essential nutrient for the guinea pigs and is required for their immune system’s healthy functioning. Suppose there’s a deficiency of ascorbic vitamin C in the diet if your guinea pig, they will develop scurvy.
Scurvy is terrible news for guinea pigs. It causes weakness, rough haircoat, loss of appetite, stiffened limbs and joints, limping, eye and nose discharge.
To avoid these conditions, your guinea pig’s diet must have enough vitamin C. And what way to give them this vitamin than feeding them with the vitamin C-rich basil?
Still, on guinea pigs not synthesizing vitamin C, another vitamin that your pet cannot synthesize is vitamin A, an excellent antioxidant. It combats inflammation and also stops the activities of free radicals, causing many diseases and premature aging.
Vitamin A is also responsible for the well being of the immunes system, skin, brain, heart, lungs, kidney, and eyesight of guinea pigs.
Feeding your pets with Vitamin K is vital for fast blood clotting and the development of healthy bones.
The manganese in basil reduces disease risk. It is also an antioxidant that clears free radicals off the body cells.
Zinc is vital, especially for pregnant guinea pigs and their little ones. It helps them heal injuries quicker. It makes the DNA healthy and combat diseases that may affect the immune system.
How Much Basil Can You Feed Your Guinea Pigs?
While basil is such a great herb to feed your guinea pig with, moderation is key. Excessive intake of the basil is counter-effective for your pet. To avoid this, serve your guinea pig with one or two basil leaves in a meal.
Do not serve the basil alone. it’s advisable to add other vegetables to it, especially if that is the guinea pig’s first time. This is also necessary if you want to give your pet a balanced diet. Do not feed the guinea pig with basil for more than three times in a week.
What Happens When Guinea Pigs Overeat Basil?
We have been warning against guinea pigs overeating basil. But why? Here are the reasons why.
Basil contains an ingredient called estragole. Excess estragole in the guinea pig’s body system can cause liver damage.
Basil contains calcium and phosphorus. In excess, they cause urinary issues for your pets – the urinary system changes. The kidney and bladder develop stones that lodge themselves in their urinary system.
Guinea pigs excrete excess calcium as urine. So, the more the calcium, the more your pet urinates. Do not take constant urination lightly as it is painful and can lead to kidney failure.
A lesser evil than number two above is digestive problems. Excess basil can cause flatulence or a bloated tummy for your pet. It can also cause diarrhea.
Read Also: Don’t Feed Your Guinea Pigs with Oak Leave
At this point, we believe you now know the answer to the query, ‘Can guinea pigs eat basil?’ Basil is such fantastic food to give your beloved pet. They have a large number of nutrients useful to the guinea pig. But moderation is key.
Guinea pigs possess small and sensitive digestive tracts, and it should make you tread carefully as it concerns feeding your guinea pig.
Providing them with basil two or three times in a week with one or two leaves each time is enough. Not all guinea pigs will like basil. So, observe while feeding them and continue if they do not appreciate it.
Lastly, if you discover that the guinea pigs have had too much basil to eat, go to the vet and have them checked immediately. Do not waste time. Guinea pigs that have had excess basil to eat will be uncomfortable and in pain. Look out for these.
Your pets are sensitive eaters. Treat what they eat with uttermost care and always remember to clean their cage as often as possible.