Guinea pig is a rodent, and just like almost all rodents, guinea pig’s teeth grow as long as they live. To slow down the speed of growth, cavies have to chew on stuff. They can chew on the cage, the toys, and anything they can find around.
Since guinea pig chews on their cage, it is vital to choose the material you will use to wisely make the cage. Remember that your pet has a sensitive digestive system and, as such, will fall sick if they ingest anything unsafe.
One of the wood types pet owners use in making cages for their pets is spruce wood, but is spruce safe for guinea pigs?
Yes, spruce is totally safe for guinea pigs. You can use them to build a cage for your pet, or you can use them as bedding for them. Before we delve deeper into the topic, let us see what the spruce is.
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What Is Spruce?
The spruce is a type of coniferous tree that is popular in the temperate regions of the world. The branches of the tree are conical and whorled.
They are members of the pine family. But what differentiates the spruce from other trees of the pine family is the whorled branches.
Butterflies and moths eat the spruce. They also serve as food for the spruce budworm.
Carvers use spruce for building purposes. The very first aircraft in the early 1900s consists of spruce. The spruce is a delicate wood and cannot resist decay or pest activities.
The spruce wood is not suitable for anything outdoor. It will decay and break down. It would be best if you used the spruce only for indoor activities.
You can also make spruce beer from the branches, leaves, and essential oils of the plant. You can also make spruce syrup from the needle of the plant.
In a dire situation, the needle can be eaten or boil in a tea, which supplies large amounts of vitamin c amounts.
The spruce needles also contain water, which is invaluable in cases of dehydration. Spruce is quite vital in places where proteinous food, particularly meat, is the only food source.
Spruce is also used to make musical instruments. Soundboards, guitars, cellos, mandolins, harp and piano, and the acoustic guitar are all made from spruce wood.
Almost every part of the spruce is edible for one animal or the other. Little mammals eat the seeds and the seedlings of the spruce. The guinea pig is one of those mammals that are given to eating the spruce.
Other animals in the wild, like the meadow vole, deer mice, all feast on the spruce. The victim is usually the seedling of the spruce.
Is Spruce Safe for Guinea Pigs?
Spruce is safe for guinea pigs to eat. They are not dangerous for guinea pigs. The spruce has some vital nutrients that the guinea pigs need.
Some of such nutrients are vitamin A and Vitamin C. Before serving the guinea pigs spruce or using it to build their cage, get rid of phenols in the wood. Though some phenols can be safe, some are not, and this can harm your guinea pig.
The phenol is present in every pine-like tree. They are found in all types of softwood. Cedar has the highest phenol content, followed by pine and then spruce.
The phenol can cause respiratory challenges for your pet. Also, it can cause liver damage. This is why you have to treat the wood very well.
Do Guinea Pigs Enjoy Eating Spruce?
Is spruce safe for guinea pigs? Yes. But do they enjoy eating spruce? The answer is yes — many guinea pigs like eating spruce.
They can chew and snack on the spruce with reckless abandon. You will most likely find your pet scurrying in one corner to feed on spruce to avoid interruption.
Just make sure the spruce you are giving the guinea pig is treated well to reduce the number of phenols. A lump of spruce will be okay for your pet to use as a chew toy. So, whenever they need to chew, which is probably always, they can get on with it.
Again, before you give the spruce to your guinea pig, make sure the spruce is healthy for eating. Make sure that contaminants like chemicals and fungus have not infected it.
Guinea pigs do not only eat the wooded parts of the spruce. You can feed the guinea pigs with other spruce parts like the spruce tips, the seeds, and the seedlings. The spruce tips are the most nutritious part of the spruce.
Why Should I Feed My Guinea Pig with Spruce?
Are you giving a thought to feeding your guinea pig with spruce? If you are not, here are some reasons that will make you start up right away.
The tips of spruce contain carotenoids. These carotenoids contain antioxidants that help destroy free radicals in the system of your guinea pig.
Guinea pigs cannot synthesize some of the vitamins they need. An example of such vitamin is vitamin C. The spruce packs so many vitamins C that your guinea pig can use.
Spruce contains minerals that aid the growth and healing of damaged tissues. They help control the appetite. They can also facilitate the transport of oxygen to the cells.
The buds of the spruce are rich in magnesium and potassium. These are also essential minerals for the guinea pigs.
The nutrients in the spruce help to maintain blood sugar balance. It accelerates the healing of wounds and gets rid of free radicals.
The spruce nutrients bind with poisonous materials in the body of your guinea pig and detoxify them.
Some indigenous tribes use the spruce is used to cure sore throats and coughs.
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Dangers of Guinea Pigs Eating Spruce
We have established the fact that it is safe for guinea pigs to eat spruce. But one thing must be clear. Spruce belongs to the class of plants known as softwoods. These softwoods contain phenol. And phenol is not such a fantastic thing for the pigs.
This entails that you have to alternate what you give your guinea pigs as a chew toy so that the guinea pig won’t overeat phenol and fall sick or die as a result.
To reduce the amount of phenol in the wood, the pet owner has to kiln-dry the spruce wood before giving it to the guinea pig. The kiln does not only reduce the phenol content; the kiln also helps us reduce the water content in the wood. This will make it less prone to spoilage.
Like humans who could react to certain foods, certain guinea pigs could be allergic to spruce. When adding the spruce to the cage of the guinea pig, you must watch it closely. If signs of allergy show up, then you must withdraw the spruce immediately.
First, start with giving your pets a small number of spruce shavings. When you do that, place them under serious observation. If there are signs of allergies or discomfort, do not give them the spruce to eat again.
Symptoms of Phenol Poisoning in Spruce Eating Guinea Pigs
When your guinea pigs have taken too much spruce wood, they may have a condition known as phenol poisoning. When this happens, these are the symptoms that may be evident.
- Your guinea pig may start experiencing difficulty in breathing.
- The skin of the guinea pig may start peeling off.
- Abdominal upset.
- Your guinea pig may become lethargic and unable to move from one place to another.
When you notice these things, what do you do? The very first thing is to give the guinea pig fluid therapy.
Thankfully, guinea pigs tend to drink water a lot when they have been poisoned or have eaten something that does not bode well with their digestive system. Water will help flush the toxin out of your pet’s body.
Immediately after given water, you have to take the pet to a veterinarian who would know the right thing to do and at the right time.
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Is Spruce Safe for Guinea Pigs? The answer is yes. You can feed the guinea pig with almost all parts of the spruce.
They are quite nutritious and will enhance the well-being of your guinea pig. But you have to take care to know the quantity of the spruce ingested, especially if it is the wood.
They contain a substance known as phenols, which is quite toxic to both man and animal. Hence there should be moderation.
The spruce should be served at least two times a week to ensure that the guinea pig doesn’t eat what will harm them instead of nourishing them.