Guinea pigs are charming, smart, and energetic, making them wonderful pets. Like most animals and people, they have special dietary needs. Originating in South America, these furry, tailless rodents, also called cavies, require a diet rich in vitamin C. Without this important dietary nutrient, they're more susceptible to illness, just like humans.
You’re most likely feeding your little pet with guinea pig pellets containing vitamin C. Unfortunately, when stored for a while or exposed to light, vitamins in the food can be destroyed. While your little guy or gal probably munches on timothy hay or other types of grass, these aren't substantial vitamin C sources. You may need to supplement the guinea pig’s basic foods with vegetables and fruit — and also supply a daily vitamin C tablet.
Guinea pig supplement tips:
- Use flavored vitamin C tablets made especially for guinea pigs. Feed the tablet alone or crush and sprinkle on fruits or veggies.
- An adult guinea pig needs a daily intake of 25 mg of the vitamin. For a pregnant female, feed 30 to 40 mg.
- Use products intended for guinea pigs that contain only vitamin C. Avoid multi-vitamins since there’s a danger of other nutrient overdose.
- Try liquid vitamin C. However, don’t mix the liquid vitamin in water, since it may lose its potency. There’s also a chance the altered taste of the water in your pet’s cage may cause him or her to avoid it, resulting in dehydration.
- Foods rich in vitamin C include kale, parsley, broccoli, sweet peppers (red or yellow), and guava. Other good sources are green pepper, kiwi, strawberries, cauliflower, and mustard greens.
If your guinea pig becomes ill due to a lack of vitamin C, you may be able to restore his or her health by through vitamin injections. Contact your vet right away if you notice these vitamin C deficiency symptoms:
- Lack of appetite from mouth pain
- Bleeding gums
- Weight loss
- Limited bone and tooth growth
- Depression or lack of energy
- Limping from swollen joints and pain
- Nasal discharge
- Messy-looking, rumpled/ruffled fur
- Bleeding below the skin
To learn more about your guinea pig’s necessities, visit the Smart Pet Guide