Why and how should I provide vitamin C to my guinea pig?

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid plays an essential role in organisms; it is particularly involved in protection against infections and the strength of blood vessels. Unlike other mammals, our piglets do not synthesize it. For them, vitamin C must be obtained only through food. oh yeah kiwi fruit and parsley will be your allies to avoid defects and ensure a long life for your pet.

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency in guinea pigs

Like humans, guinea pigs do not synthesize vitamin C or ascorbic acid. However, this molecule is essential for many vital functions.

In fact, vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, a type of fiber that supports the soft tissues of the body. It intervenes in the defense against infections and in the absorption of iron. It helps fight stress and has antioxidant and detoxifying powers.

In humans, a severe deficiency of vitamin C causes the famous scurvy, which afflicts sailors who go for long months at sea. In the 18th century, a link was established between the consumption of citrus fruits and resistance to this disease. Scurvy causes bleeding gums and loose teeth, bleeding, fatigue and, in severe cases, coma.

In guinea pigs, the signs of vitamin C deficiency are similar to those of scurvy:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty walking, pain, paralysis
  • fractures
  • Bleeding gums
  • Fallen teeth
  • Hematomas (bruises), often barely visible due to hair
  • Pododermatitis (burnt fingers)

To avoid this, you will need to give your guinea pig the right dose of vitamin C as soon as it arrives home.

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Adequate vitamin C intake for guinea pigs

Most whole foods are supplemented with vitamin C. Unfortunately, this will not be enough to give your guinea pig enough vitamin C, as this vitamin is fragile! It is destroyed by contact with water, as well as with air and light. Bag croquettes open, so there is a high risk that the level of ascorbic acid in it will decrease significantly.

Vitamin C is available from many supplies to veterinarians or pet stores. Tablets, drops… There is something for everyone. Bottled formulations should not be preferred because ascorbic acid degrades rapidly in water and light.

The daily dose for an adult pig is 20 mg. In case of pregnancy, breastfeeding or illness, it can increase three times. The dose (the number of tablets or milliliters used) is indicated on the preparations.

And for babies? If your pig is growing, you should give 60 mg per kilogram of weight. For example, if your pet weighs 200g (0.2kg), it will receive 60×0.2=12mg of vitamin C.

If vitamin C supplementation is necessary, care should be taken not to exceed the recommended dosage. In fact, excess vitamin C can predispose guinea pigs to calcium oxalate urinary stones, a painful condition that requires surgery.

However, food should not be forgotten. Some fresh fruits and vegetables that guinea pigs like are rich in vitamin C.

Here is a list of the foods that pigs eat that contain the highest levels of vitamin C:

  • Kiwi
  • Parsley
  • Yellow pepper
  • Orange or clementine slices
  • Cabbage (in small quantities)
  • Spinach
  • strawberries

What to make our little friends happy! If your guinea pig is not used to this diet, feed gradually and in small amounts to avoid diarrhea. Also remember that hay remains its main food.

Therefore, you can easily combine the daily dose with tablets or liquid and filling food! For guinea pigs, fruits and vegetables are good for your health!

Dr. Isabelle Vixege

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