Guinea pigs’ connection to vitamin C is a common concern among pet owners. With plenty of contradicting information available, proper vitamin C intake remains a hard nut to crack. As a result, most piggy parents fumble with various foods and supplements. Sometimes, this leads to overdose or poor vitamin C intake.
A sufficient supply of Vitamin C is of great importance to the life of a guinea pig. Similar to human beings, guinea pigs cannot make or store Vitamin C. This is because they lack the enzyme that aids the body to generate vitamin C. Therefore, it is crucial to include Vitamin C rich food and supplements in their diets daily.
Do Guinea Pigs Need Vitamin C?
As an antioxidant, Vitamin C has several functions in the body. One major benefit is its role in the collagen formation. Collagen is essential in boosting wound healing and minimizing oxidative stress. Moreover, vitamin C helps in prevention of a condition known as scurvy. This is an ailment caused by inadequate vitamin C in the body.
Without proper treatment, scurvy leads to gum diseases, decline of red blood cells, hair coat changes and skin bleeding. On average, a healthy guinea pig requires 10 to 30mg of vitamin C daily. For a guinea pig suffering from a Vitamin C deficiency, ensure that you exceed the limit up to 200mg.
Additionally; nursing, pregnant, sickly and young guinea pigs require more. Combining fresh pellets and vegetables rich in vitamin C is an effective approach to meet the daily requirements.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency remains one of the commonest guinea pigs’ ailments. Symptoms and signs may differ, but the most popular ones include repeated skin infections, hair loss, diarrhea, wound infections and repeat respiratory sickness.
In other cases, guinea pigs develop shaky gait, swollen joints, low appetite, dribbling and poor weight gain. If not treated early, the symptoms may lead to a couple of life-threatening conditions.
Apart from scurvy, low vitamin C in the body can cause anemia, loss of teeth, gum ulcerations, spontaneous bleeding and disability because of painful limbs. When vitamin C comes into contact with specific metals, the effectiveness may decline.
Therefore, use pottery, stainless steel and glass bowls when feeding them. For proper eradication of scurvy and other vitamin C deficiencies symptoms, ensure that your fuzzy friend ingest 100mg of vitamin C every day.
Unfortunately, vitamin C becomes less effective after some time. This is because most ingredients in food break down progressively. In the process, they become unsafe for consumption and risky to the wellbeing of your pet.
Always provide fresh food to your piggy to ensure that they get the best out of it. Likewise, discuss with your vet about supplementation, duration and quantity.
Vitamin C Overdose
Naturally, guinea pigs remove excess vitamin C through urination. If given food with top levels of vitamin C, they may not get rid of it all. Too much of vitamin C causes a couple of health implications. It is encouraging to learn that vitamin C overdose rarely happens after a diet of pellets and green food.
However, if you add vitamin C supplements, it increases the chances of overdosing. An intake of 100mg and above is a bit on the higher side. Instead, stick to the required quantities of not more than 50mg.
Usually, excess vitamin C causes development of bladder and kidney stones plus slowed growth of the young ones. If your guinea pig had a pre-existing arthritis condition, it may worsen the situation.
There is a high probability of contacting pseudo-scurvy sickness with repeated excess vitamin C absorption. This is a condition where guinea pigs’ experiences minimized reaction to vitamin C.
This means that the required daily Vitamin C intake suddenly becomes insufficient. For that reason, guinea pigs still develop deficiency symptoms even after proper feeding and vitamin C intake.
When this happens, seek reliable medical help right away. To minimize overdose chances, give your piggy plenty of water to flush it out. Most importantly, stop giving them supplements if you suspect an overdose.
Unless advised by a reliable vet, avoid giving them the vitamin C tablets meant for human beings. Most of them contain multivitamins and have a higher percentage of vitamin C.
Foods High in Vitamin C
From harvesting, vitamin C has an estimated half-life of ten days in green veggies. In short, after every 10 days, the healthy vitamin C decreases by almost half. For maximum nutrients absorption, feed your pets with fresh fruits and greens. Consider giving a variety of vitamin C rich food every day.
Vitamin C goals become easily achievable by adding supplements in your pet diet. If your piggy requires additional needs or a collaboration of other supplements, consider talking to a vet first.
Altogether, avoid giving your pets fruits and vegetables that contain too much sugar. Excess sugary food if taken for a long time leads to obesity or intestinal issues.
Another consideration is to confirm the calcium level of the food that you give your guinea pigs. High calcium food predisposes guinea pigs to bladder and kidney stones. Food like oranges, grapefruits, kiwi and melons contain good content of vitamin C but have high acid and sugar levels.
Dark vegetables like mustard spinach, turnip greens and cabbages have elevated calcium content. Therefore, serve them once or twice per week. Altogether, healthy food you should consider includes parsley, broccoli and green bell pepper.
Vitamin C Supplements for Guinea Pig
One of the most effective ways to give supplement is using Vitamin C tablets, drops or pellets with vitamin C. Most vitamin C tablets come in 50mg. Given that they are water-soluble, guinea easily manages a slight excess intake.
In most cases, guinea pigs presume the tablets as a treat. You can crush the daily dosage and sprinkle it on pellets or vegetables. Note that vitamin C swiftly loses its strength when mixed with water.
Due to the change of taste, guinea pigs may reduce their water intake leading to wastage and poor intake. Below are successful options on how to give supplements to your charming friend.
– Vitamin C Drops
This is a convenient approach that ensures that guinea pigs receive their daily vitamin C requirement. Like any vitamin C supplement, drops boost immunity, reduce blood uric levels, prevent heart diseases and iron deficiencies. Although they should not supplement your pet’s dry diet, they play a significant role in providing proper nutrition.
The best options in the market should have eye dropper dispensers. Also, detailed instructions come in handy when measuring the correct quantity for your pet. What’s more, an all-range description prevents overdose cases by a great extent.
Therefore, a reliable vitamin C drop should give clear guidelines on usage. For convenient intake, use a water bottle to give a fresh dose of vitamin C daily.
– Vitamin C Tabs
Currently, flavored chewable vitamin C tablets flood the market. An essential supplement should provide vital nutrients to manage stress, recover from sickness and proper growth. Resealable package keeps the content fresh and makes it easier to store.
Before buying a vitamin C tablet, confirm if it has high fiber content mixed with stabilized supplements. For easier chewing, break the tablet into pieces and allow your pet to smell the aroma. You can hold the broken pieces with your hands and offer some to your piggy.
Another alternative is to roll the crushed tablet with lettuce or put it in a piece of carrot or apple. There is also the syringe feeding alternative where you add a crushed tablet with water and feed your pet directly. In such a scenario, ensure that you feed them with the solution straight away after mixing.
– Pellets with Vitamin C
Most pellets with vitamin C come as a complete meal. The most effective ones have oatmeal, wheat, soybeans and wheat in the ingredients. With a healthy content of vitamin C, pellets protect guinea pigs from several deficiencies.
For a healthier pet, avoid pellets with artificial flavors and colors. Instead, go for the brands with high fiber levels. It is important to feed your guinea pigs with pellets on a daily basis. Still, observe proper quantity intake to prevent weight-related issues.
Given that this is a complete diet, avoid adding other supplements to the diet. To avoid quick degradation of vitamin C in pellets, store them in a cool dark place.
How Long can Guinea Pigs Go Without Vitamin C?
Lack of enough vitamin C may cause scurvy from early as two weeks. So, guinea pigs should not go without vitamin C on any day.
If you notice any signs of vitamin C deficiencies, increase the daily intake and consult a vet.
Rich vitamin C fruits and vegetables are not always in season. Yet, that should not be a valid reason for your pet to develop deficiencies.
Even in the driest months, incorporate food with pellets with vitamin C and vitamin C tabs and drops. This is the surest way to keep your fuzzy friend healthy and contented.