What do humans and guinea pigs have in common? Unlike other animals, our bodies cannot manufacture vitamin C, so both people and guinea pigs need to supplement vitamin C through diet.
Lack of vitamin C in our diet causes a disease commonly known as scurvy. In guinea pigs, vitamin C deficiency can cause a wide range of health problems, including:
- Poor coat quality
- Lack of appetite
- Dental pain
- Poor wound healing
- Inability to fight infection
Guinea pigs need 20-25 milligrams of vitamin C per day. Commercial guinea pig pellets do contain this necessary vitamin, but because it is water soluble, the potency decreases over time. Common guinea pig feed like timothy hay is low in vitamin C. So how can you ensure that your guinea pig gets enough C to stay healthy?
You can buy commercial vitamin C supplements. These come in liquid or tablet form. But the best option is to feed your guinea pig fresh foods that are high in vitamin C.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are best because they contain other important nutrients in addition to C, are a good source of roughage for their teeth, and provide mental stimulation and environmental enrichment.
Here are the vitamin C-rich foods rated as “excellent” by veterinary experts for supporting your guinea pig’s diet:
- Red peppers
- Mustard tendergreen
- Broccoli (all parts)
Need more ideas? These foods are rated as a “good” choice for supplementing your guinea pig’s diet:
- Green peppers
- Mustard greens
Be sure to talk to your veterinarian if you have questions about proper nutrition for your guinea pig. You can also check out this article on feeding pet guinea pigs from the VCA Hospitals website.