Petcare for Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs Need Vitamin C

Some animals are able to manufacture their own vitamin C but guinea pigs, like humans, cannot. They lack an essential enzyme, L-gulunolactone oxidase. Vitamin C is essential in many biochemical processes essential for the healthy well-being of your guinea pig:

  • Synthesis of carnitine
  • Breakdown of histamine
  • Synthesis of sex hormone
  • Synthesis of catecholamines
  • Synthesis of adrenal corticosteroids
  • Oxidation of certain amino acids
  • Conversion of cholesterol to bile acids
  • Synthesis and repair of collagen, vital in forming the basis for bones, cartilage, and many other connective tissues

Vitamin C is retained in the tissue for a maximum of 4 days. If not replenished, tissue stores are depleted and processes become impaired. This deficiency is commonly known as scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include:

  • Changes in behavior and demeanour (lethargy / weak / depressed)
  • Reduced appetite resulting in gradual weight loss
  • Excessive salivation
  • May suffer broken teeth / bleeding gums / gingivitis
  • Susceptible to infection
  • Poor coat and skin condition
  • Indications of pain
  • Abnormal feces produced
  • Poor reproductive performance

To prevent this, feed your guinea pig a well-balanced diet designed specifically for guinea pigs. Supplement the diet with the occasional fruit / vegetable. Avoid water supplements as these may affect taste and have variable potency once mixed. Water intake is also a variable factor that does not ensure sufficient supplementation. For further queries on how to prevent this common nutritional disease in guinea pigs, speak to your veterinarian today.