The Scoop

Why Vitamin C is Essential for Guinea Pigs

FUN FACT: Guinea pigs and humans are two of the few mammal species on Earth that cannot create their own Vitamin C. Instead, they must consume this key vitamin through food or supplements. But just why is Vitamin C so important for your guinea pig? Read on to learn a little about this vitamin and how to provide it to your companion.

What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it is not stored for long-term in the body, and must be replaced regularly. This vitamin is important for keeping tissue, bones, and blood vessels in good shape, and helps to heal wounds and protect the body from disease. Its deficiency in humans is known as scurvy, a condition common long ago in sailors travelling long distances at sea without access to Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. It was soon discovered that eating citrus fruits helped cure scurvy, due to their high levels of Vitamin C. Similarly to those sailors, your guinea pig needs Vitamin C in its regular diet to prevent this deficiency and keep him healthy for years to come.

Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency
Symptoms of a guinea pig suffering from Vitamin C deficiency may include loss of appetite, bleeding from the gums, joint stiffness, lethargy, weight loss, poor tooth development or coat condition, and nasal discharge.
If you think your guinea pig may be suffering this deficiency or is showing other signs of illness, please contact your veterinarian for advice.

How to Prevent Vitamin C Deficiency
The best way to help keep your guinea pig healthy and avoid Vitamin C deficiency is to provide a daily diet of Vitamin C-rich foods. Most high-quality diets and treats for guinea pigs, like Sunseed Vita Natural Timothy, are fortified with the right amount of Vitamin C (also called Ascorbic Acid). You can also offer Vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies, such as leafy greens, cabbage, red and green peppers, kiwi, and oranges.

Aside from feeding the right kind of fortified diet, treats, fruits, and veggies, some liquid vitamin supplements like Sunseed Vita Prima Sun Drops include Vitamin C. These drops can be added right to your pet’s food or water, are a a great tool for providing picky piggies or selective eaters with extra vitamins.