Guinea Pigs & Vitamin C

Guinea Pigs & Vitamin C - The Hay Experts Guide

Guinea Pigs & Vitamin C

Unlike many other species, guinea pigs do not possess the ability to store the essential nutrient vitamin C (ascorbic acid), essential for bone and tooth growth amongst other things. That's the biggest thing they have in common with us humans!


Vital for Health

A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to scurvy which gives rise to a variety of serious health issues. Vitamin C is involved in the making of collagen within the body, essential for blood vessels, bone and healing. Too little vitamin C can cause bleeding, joint swelling, teeth issues and much pain, amongst many other serious symptoms. Its' effects can be permanent, though with early diagnosis by a vet, along with the appropriate treatment, many symptoms can be reversed. Prevention, however, is way better (and less painful) than cure.

How Much?

An average guinea pig will need around 10-15mg per day, with the young, ill and pregnant sows needing more. Fortunately vitamin C is readily available from fresh veg (such as leafy greens and others), and it can also be present as an additive in good guinea pig feeds. A well-balanced diet should provide all the required vitamin C, but there are supplements available, such as the Natural Science Vitamin C supplement from Oxbow, which is a hay-based, high-fiber supplement containing essential stabilized vitamin C.

A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to scurvy which gives rise to a variety of serious health issues. Its' effects can be permanent, though with early diagnosis by a vet, along with the appropriate treatment, many symptoms can be reversed.

Stabilised Source

When feeding a supplement, it is important to ensure the source of vitamin C is stabilised. Vitamin C can quickly degrade in in water and some foods, so do check it's content is stabilised.

Human grade vitamin C should not be used as dosage can be difficult - use a product designed for guinea pigs. If you have any queries on the best supplement source, speak with your vet.

It is worth noting that if you feed a vitamin C supplement, mention this to your vet if your guinea pig is unwell. This will help your vet with diagnosis.


A Natural Source

Many natural foods contain a good source of vitamin C - red pepper, parsley, spinach, kale and green peppers are all very high in vitamin C, as are kiwi and papaya; fruit, of course should be fed as a treat only.


Dosage

Ensuring s correct daily dosage is vital to ensure conditions such as scurvy can be avoided, and to ensure an overdose is also avoided. It is a little unclear as to whether an overdose of vitamin C is dangerous, as excess vitamin C is excreted in the urine, but it is always sensible to ensure correct dosing if you feel additinal vitamin C is required. It should be noted that a correctly balanced diet should provide all the required vitamin C for a healthy guinea pig.

It is not appropriate to supplement vitamin C through the water for a number of reasons:

  • Vitamin C degrades very quickly - so a supplemented water bowl in the morning may have the correct dose, but later in the day the vitamin C will have degraded.
  • Dosage is difficult to monitor and relate back to how much water has been drunk - particulalry if there is more than one guinea pig drinking from the bowl.
  • Some guinea pigs can be put off from drinking if the water has a slightly unusual taste or smell (we may not be able to detect it, but they may!). Hydration is critical to their wellbeing, so don't do anything that may reduce consumption.


Check With Your Vet

If you have any concerns or queries on the need for vitamin C, or are concerned your guinea pig may be suffering from a lack of vitamin C (or is showing any signs of ill-health) it is important to seek advice from your guinea pig savvy vet.


Further Reading

Check out our other info pages for more information on diet and care

Not sure where to go from here? Check out our guide to finding a guinea pig savvy vet!

Share this post

Related Products