Vitamin C is an essential component of a guinea pigs diet. Due to the lack of ability to synthesize their own Vitamin C, guinea pigs need a supplement of Vitamin C in their food. Thus providing a diet rich in Vitamin C is very crucial for our guinea pigs.
An average guinea pig requires around 10-30mg of Vitamin C daily for every pound of body weight. A guinea pig which is ill or currently suffering from a deficit of Vitamin C will need around 50mg of Vitamin C every day or as directed by Veterinarian.
As the requirement of Vitamin C varies depending upon the growth rate, age, and many other factors, it is always a great idea to be on the higher end(30-50mg). Unlike calcium, any extra vitamin c will be excreted by guinea pigs through urine. So, it is wise to provide extra Vitamin C to ill guinea pigs.
Why do guinea pigs need vitamin c in their diet?
Vitamin C is essential for the healthy growth of our guinea pigs. It is a crucial nutrient as it helps in the formation of collagen. Collagen is vital for maintaining blood vessel integrity, bone formation, etc.
It also helps in repairing tissue of all parts of the body. Thus, it is an essential vitamin for our guinea pigs.
What can I give my guinea pig for vitamin C?
We need to give our guinea pigs a variety of diet to meet the daily need of Vitamin C in their body. Although the staple diet for guinea pigs is hay itself, it doesn’t hold much Vitamins C in it. So, a wide range of leafy vegetables, fruits, and pellets are added in their diet to make it balanced.
There is a wide range of leafy vegetables and pellets fortified with vitamin c, which can be a great source of the same. Alternatively, there are a lot of other supplement medication available, which you can use if your guinea pig is suffering from vitamin c deficiency.
What foods are high in vitamin C for guinea pigs?
There are lots of food which we can give to our guinea pigs for fulfilling their need of Vitamin C. Let us check out the list of food which we can provide to our guinea pigs that can fulfill their vitamin c need.
Apart from these fruits and vegetables, you can also feed good quality pellets fortified with Vitamin C. For more details on what would be the best choice of pellets for your guinea pig I would recommend you to go ahead and read our article:
Is too much vitamin C bad for guinea pigs(guinea pig Vitamin C overdose)?
No, Too much Vitamin C is not a bad thing for guinea pigs. In fact, most guinea pigs suffer from various diseases due to lack of Vitamin C in their diet.
Even if you end up feeding more than required Vitamin C, the excess that is not absorbed by the body will be excreted along with urine. Thus, it is always a wise choice to feed abundant of Vitamin C to your guinea pigs.
What happens if a guinea pig doesn’t get vitamin C?
Guinea pigs who don’t get enough Vitamin C in their diet are likely to suffer from various diseases, including abnormal growth, Lack of immunity, and Scurvy.
There are a lot of symptoms of lack of Vitamin C in guinea pigs. We need to look at them carefully and visit a vet if we find any of those symptoms in our guinea pigs. So, let’s have a look at signs of lack of Vitamin C in guinea pigs:
- Rough hair coat or patches in the coat.
- Mouth and lips sore
- Weak and lethargic movement
- losing weight and improper appetite
- Swollen or bleeding joints
- Small wounds bleed extensively and don’t recover fast.
If you notice any of these symptoms, then it is recommended to visit the vet and get your guinea pigs examined thoroughly.
Can guinea pigs die from lack of vitamin C?
Yes, guinea pigs can die suddenly due to lack of Vitamin C in their diet. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to internal bleeding and malfunction of body organs leading to uncertain death in guinea pigs.
It is recommended to feed at least 20-30mg of Vitamin C through various rich diet so that their body can develop and work properly.
Dealing with a lack of Vitamin C in guinea pigs
If your guinea pig shows any symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency, you must first take an appointment with your vet. Your vet will be able to diagnose your guinea pig and check what can be the right treatment for the same.
If the vet confirms that the symptoms your guinea pig is showing are due to lack of Vitamin C then they might ask you to supplement the diet with Vitamin C, fortified food along with some other medical supplement for the same.
Consider adding some Vitamin C rich Vegetables and fruits in your guinea pigs diet. Feeding an excess of vitamin c rich diet will not hurt during this stage.
If your guinea pig is suffering severely due to lack of vitamin C, then they might be reluctant to eat Vitamin rich food or even treat. In that case, you must use liquid vitamin C and use a syringe to feed the same to your guinea pigs.
You can ask your vet for the recommended dose of Vitamin c and administer it for a couple of weeks until you see some signs of recovery.
If even syringe feeding is not working, then you might need to visit the vet regularly to get the Vitamin C supplement injected to your guinea pigs.
Once the treatment has begun, your guinea pig must start looking better within a week or so. Inspect your guinea pigs carefully to see if the symptoms are going away and if they are becoming more active.
If your guinea pig doesn’t show any sign of recovery, notify your vet so that he can adjust the dosage of vitamin C accordingly. Once you find your guinea pig is recovering its time to move towards external wounds.
If your guinea pig is suffering from severe scurvy, then you will find some scabbed skin or bleeding wounds. It’s now time to clean the injury regularly and ask your vet for some external medication if necessary.
In most cases, the wound will heal itself once Vitamin C needs are fulfilled. If you find your guinea pig is suffering a lot and is in a lot of pain getting pain killer prescribed for it might be a great choice. Speak to your vet about the dosage and get one for your guinea pig if necessary.
Do guinea pigs need vitamin C tablets?
No, it is not recommended to feed Vitamin C tablet to your guinea pigs until and unless they are suffering from Vitamin C deficiency.
In general, if you feed a proper diet with fruits vegetables and pellets rich in Vitamin c your guinea pigs are unlikely to suffer from lack of Vitamin C.
However, if your guinea pigs are suffering from lack of Vitamin C you can supplement it by giving them a quarter of chewable Vitamin C tablet. In general, Vitamin C tablets come in 100mg sizes. So, a quarter feeding will almost provide 25 mg Vitamin C to your guinea pigs.
Quick Tips for feeding Vitamin C tablets to your guinea pigs:
- Break the tablet to the right size and place it in their cage, some guinea pigs get curious by its aroma and eat it thinking it a treat. Else, you can hand-feed the tablet to your guinea pigs if they are accustomed to that.
- Crush the tablet into a powdery texture and put it in between some leafy vegetables they love. For example- Romaine lettuce, Spinach, etc.
- You can also cut a groove into their favorite fruit like grape, strawberry, etc. and put the crushed tablet into it.
- If none of the above tricks works, you might need to syringe feed the tablet by mixing it in water and using a syringe to feed it immediately.
Can guinea pigs have human vitamin C tablets?
Yes, guinea pigs can eat human Vitamin C tablet. You need to feed it partially depending upon the sizes it comes in. Also, make sure you get Vitamin C tablet itself and not a multi Vitamin as it won’t be useful to your guinea pigs.
How much vitamin C should I give my guinea pig?
An average guinea pig requires around 10-30 mg of Vitamin C per pound of body weight daily. Although the young and nursing guinea pig might need up to 40mg/day for every pound of their body weight. The requirement may vary depending upon the breed, size, and age of the guinea pig.
You should always feed Vitamin C rich diet to your guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are picky when it comes to vegetables and fruits. So, keep experimenting to find out what works and what doesn’t so that you can give them a proper well-balanced diet.
Note: Never add any Vitamin C supplement in their water. Guinea pigs might not drink enough water if they don’t like the taste of it. It may further lead to starvation and death.
If you are looking to learn more about well-balanced guinea pig diet then I would recommend you to go ahead and read: