Vitamin C is essential for the healthy growth of guneia pigs. Lack of Vitamin C limits growth and bodily functions in guneia pigs and may cause a disease known as scurvy. Guneia pigs are among a few animals whose bodies are not able to produce vitamin C and thus their diet must contain foods rich in vitamin C like broccoli and cauliflower.
Adult guneia pigs require about 10-20 milligrams per kilogram daily for perfect growth. Younger guneia pigs will require a larger dose of vitamin C of up to 50 milligrams per kilogram due their immune system demands. A good diet for a guneia pig should contain green vegetables such as kales, strawberries, parsley and peppers. However, do not feed the animal on the above stated foods only. Hays and grass should beused as primary food due to their high fibre content. Vitamin C levels should be replenished regularly to maintain healthy levels as guneia pigs loose quite an amount when they urinate. However it should be noted that excess vitamin C has its own problems, it may cause diarrhoea.
Pellets and vegetables may not always be enough. Use of powder vitamin C dissolved in drinking water is more than an average guneia pig needs per day. This is not always efficient as you will probably not know how much was dissolved in the water but you should accurately try to estimate. Also, there are chewable tablets manufactured specifically for use by guinea pigs. These chewable tablets and pellets should be stored as per manufacturer specification as vitamin C depletes very quickly if not correctly stored. Exposure to excess light, humidity and temperature greatly deplete vitamin C in pellets and vegetables.
Lack of vitamin C causes various symptoms. The guneia pig should exhibit symptoms like loss of appetite, depression, weight loss and diarrhoea. Bleeding gums are also a symptom as lack of vitamin causes haemorrhaging. Guneia pigs will also exhibit signs of pain like squealing when touched. Guneia pigs will also exhibit unwillingness to move and weakness. They might also be unable to walk due to stiff or swollen joints. Symptoms should be carefully examined to make sure that the guneia pig is not suffering from another ailment with similar symptoms.
Tips and comments
To treat lack of vitamin C, consult a vet. A vet should be able to deduce a correct diagnosis and recommend a treatment schedule. Vitamin C injections for about a week or two are the most popular of rapid treatment of scurvy. They are recommended as most times the guinea pig will experience a loss of appetite and hence oral ingestion of vitamin C may not guarantee ingestion of the correct amount. A vet will also recommend a diet containing the right amount of vitamin C content.Multivitamin tablets containing vitamin C can be used but should be handled with care as many guinea pigs are known to develop allergic reactions to some of the vitamins in the tablets. Guinea pigs recovering from scurvy should be closely monitored to ensure that they responding to treatment.