Do my Guinea Pigs Need Vitamins?
Guinea pigs are small animals that are increasingly finding their place in homes. Affectionate, they will make your children happy. However, in order for them to flourish at their best, it is necessary to take care of your pets by meeting their needs perfectly. The health of your pet depends on vitamins and a specific diet.
Follow our advice to ensure that your guinea pig receives an adequate daily intake of vitamins and stays healthy.
Why should I give my guinea pig vitamin C?
Just like humans, guinea pigs do not synthesize vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid). Due to an old genetic mutation, our favorite little pets can no longer make vitamin C from glucose. The intake of vitamin C in their diet becomes a necessity.
Vitamin C is a molecule that slows down the aging of cells, helps prevent the risk of infections and accelerates healing, therefore, vitamin C intake should not be taken lightly since deficiencies can cause serious health problems in your pet.
The signs of vitamin C deficiency are plentiful and here is what should alert you:
- Your guinea pig is losing weight, does not want to eat or eats differently
- For young guinea pigs growth retardation may be visible
- Your guinea pig’s immune system slows down which can cause many infections. There are also problems with the joints and difficulties for moving. It is important that you be alert to any lesions or sores that may have difficulty healing. If your guinea pig squeals when you pick him up, that’s not a good sign.
Should I give my baby guinea pig vitamin C?
The answer is yes. It is recommended that you give your guinea pig the vitamin from an early age so that it does not suffer from deficiencies.
In addition to vitamin C, which we will focus on in the rest of our article, your guinea pig also needs its dose of vitamin E. Much less mentioned than the previous one, vitamin E is also necessary for maintaining the good health of your pet. If your guinea pig is deficient in vitamin E it may be suffering from muscle problems and this may also be the cause of high mortality in female guinea pigs. This vitamin participates in the production of cells, it therefore has an essential role.
A little tip for vitamin E: between 3 and 5g of vitamin E should be contained in 100g of food.
Foods rich in vitamin E: fennel, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and oatmeal.
What foods naturally contain vitamin C?
Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. These foods are easily found in the supermarket. It’s even better if they come from your small vegetable garden! Always wash vegetables and fruit before feeding them to your guinea pig. It is important to present them to your pet as a treat, he will appreciate it more. Do not hesitate to vary his diet by offering different vegetables according to the seasons.
Key figures: the daily intake of vitamin C in guinea pigs should be 20 mg / kg of body weight for an adult guinea pig. This dose can rise to 60 mg / kg of body weight for a growing guinea pig, a pregnant female or a sick guinea pig. If you want personalised advice for your guinea pig, do not hesitate to ask your vet.
Foods rich in Vitamin C suitable for guinea pigs in 150 g portions (be aware, it is not a question of giving 150g of the same vegetable but of varying the plate):
- Horseradish:contains 141 mg.
- Parsley: contains 140 mg.
- Kale: contains 120mg. Be careful, this food should be eaten in moderation since it may cause bloating in your animal, just like other types of cabbage (Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, white cabbage, red cabbage, green cabbage, etc.)
- Fennel: contains 120 mg.
- Red Pepper: contains 126 mg. Red peppers contain more vitamin C than green peppers.
- Broccoli: contains 93 mg.
- Dandelion: contains 58 mg.
- Chicory: contains 24 mg.
- Radishes: contains 23 mg.
- Tomatoes: contains 19 mg. In addition to providing vitamin C, they are rich in water.
- Zucchini: contains 10 mg.
- Celery: contains 7 mg.
- Cucumbers: contains 5 mg.
This list is not exhaustive, but gives you an overview of foo
ds rich in vitamin C which you might already have at home! We advise you to vary your intake and ask your vet for more information.
Small dietary reminder: do not feed guinea pigs rhubarb, onions, leeks, chives, garlic, avocado and lettuce (rich in nitrate) and avoid carrots as they are often too sweet.
We often forget it, but grass is also a source of food for guinea pigs as it is a complete food. You can also supplement the diet with leaves of strawberries, raspberries (beware of thorns), mulberries, willows…
Fruits must also be integrated into their diet, but be careful as they are highly concentrated in sugar and should be given in moderation.
Sometimes, despite a varied and balanced diet, vegetables and other plants are not enough. Guinea pig owners are therefore advised to provide them with vitamin C supplements.
How to give vitamins to my guinea pig? In what form should they be favored?
Vitamin C is available in a variety of forms so you should be able to find something to suit your guinea pig’s preferences. Just like humans, some will prefer capsules while others prefer a liquid form.
Liquid form: Ask your vet for advice on the brand you should choose. The vitamin is injected with a syringe. This method is complex because you have to succeed in getting your guinea pig to ingest the desired dose by placing the syringe in the side of the mouth. Avoid putting it face-on or pushing it into his mouth, he could choke. Do not put vitamin C in liquid form in water. Vitamin C is sensitive to light and air, and could break down very quickly. Protect the bottle from light and recap the bottle quickly after use.
Capsules / tablets: this is an effective way to make sure that your guinea pig is getting its daily amount of vitamin C. There are brands on the market that allow you to get the optimal dose. If your guinea pig has difficulty swallowing the tablet. You can hide it in a banana for example, or in other fruits that your guinea pig enjoys.
Powdered: This form of vitamin C should be taken with caution. The powdered sachet, once opened, must be quickly consumed by the guinea pig or the benefits may be lost. Powder on contact with air will simply lose its effectiveness. The powder has a positive though; you can put it on a piece of cucumber or another treat that your pet loves, the vitamin will then be easily ingested.
Vitamins C and E should be supplied throughout the life of your guinea pig. However, avoid overdosing. Indeed, too much vitamin C can also be dangerous for your animal and cause urinary stones. Check with your veterinarian for the exact dose of vitamin C to give your guinea pig, to help him/here stay in great shape to live life happily and healthily.
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