Scurvy is a disease that results from a lack of vitamin C in the diet. It affects the body’s ability to produce collagen, which is necessary for strong connective tissue and bone. Scurvy can manifest itself in a variety of ways in animals, including decreased appetite, lethargy, and finally death.
Guinea pigs are particularly susceptible to scurvy because they do not have a gallbladder and cannot process vitamin C as well as other animals. It is wise to routinely provide extra vitamin C to an ill guinea pig. If guinea pigs do not get an outside source of vitamin C, a serious illness called scurvy will develop.
Guinea pigs are one of the few mammals out there that cannot produce vitamin C themselves. Funnily enough, we humans are also in this category. Scurvy in humans and therefore, scurvy in guinea pigs is the result of a vitamin C deficiency (usually due to a lack of fruit). Unfortunately, guinea pigs need to find some way to supplement their diet and get the necessary amount of this nutrient into their diet. That’s where we step in.
Before I go in-depth with this article, if you are after some information about the best vitamin C supplements for your guinea pig, check out my article here.
Symptoms Of Scurvy In Guinea Pigs
In humans, detecting scurvy is pretty straightforward, bleeding from the gums, wounds not healing and the re-opening of old cuts (along with a lot of other less well-known symptoms). In guinea pigs, however, it is a bit more widespread. The symptoms are as follows:
- Hoping – This is due to the joints becoming enlarged and a gradual stiffening taking place.
- Loss Of Appetite – You will notice your guinea pig refusing to eat and a dramatic loss in weight.
- Tenderness – Your guinea pig may be very sensitive to touch. There is also a chance that your guinea pig’s skin will worsen as well.
- Discharge – There will be discharge coming from your guinea pig’s nose and mouth.
- Lethargy – Your guinea pig will move much slower than usual and may be unwilling to move altogether.
- Rough coat – Your guinea pig’s coat will become patchy and coarse.
- Diarrhoea – This one is pretty self-explanatory
- Blood Spots – You may notice the occasional blood spot on the surface of your guinea pig’s skin. This is due to small lesions forming across your little guy’s body.
- Internal skeletal-muscular haemorrhage – I found this one out at a guinea pig refuge site (check out it here). What this basically means is that blood gets in between the muscles and the bone. This is one of the less noticeable symptoms.
That’s the list of all the symptoms I have managed to find through my research of scurvy in guinea pigs. If you know of any more, please let me know in the comments section. If your guinea pig is looking severely unhealthy and these symptoms have been persisting for some time, I recommend taking your guinea pig to the vet. Before you get to the vet, however, try and create a list outlining what your guinea pig has been eating. There is a chance that your guinea pig might not actually have scurvy. Creating a list like this can help deduce the possibilities.
How Much Vitamin C Do Guinea Pigs Need?
The recommended dose for a guinea pig’s daily intake to prevent scurvy is 30 micrograms a day. This may be brought up to 50 micrograms a day when trying to re-introduce vitamin C to your little guy’s diet.
There have been plenty of studies done on guinea pigs and their intake of vitamin C. Some tests have been done in which up to 300 micrograms were administered to guinea pigs. The result was simply excessive diarrhoea. Guinea pigs, like humans, have a pretty effective way of processing excessive vitamin C which is to simply push it out of their body.
Preventing Guinea Pig Scurvy
All you need to do to prevent scurvy in your guinea pig is to gradually reintroduce vitamin C into your little guy’s diet. This can range from foods to vitamin C pellets all the way to a guinea pig vitamin c spray. Personally, if I am not feeding my guinea pig enough vitamin C rich vegetables or fruit, I like to use a spray solution. I apply a light coating of the spray onto the surface of all the foods my guinea pig will eat for the day.
I find using a mist works better than other things like tablets or mixing my guinea pigs’ water with vitamin C. Occasionally, your guinea pig simply will refuse to eat the tablets altogether. On top of this, introducing your guinea pig’s water with vitamin C can cause problems. Your guinea pig may simply not want to drink the water due to too many additives and as a result, can become severely dehydrated.
Feel free to check out my recommendation for a spray here:
I have also made some recommendations in regards to guinea pig foods you can buy that are enriched with vitamin C. Check that article out here.
If you want to know how much vitamin C is in the different foods you are feeding your guinea pig and how this relates to your little guy’s overall diet, check out my Vitamin C Calculator here.
I have also written plenty of other articles on guinea pigs and vitamin C! Feel free to check them out here:
In conclusion, scurvy is a serious disease that can be easily prevented by feeding your guinea pigs a diet that is rich in vitamin C. If you suspect that your guinea pig has scurvy, take him to the veterinarian immediately.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Just submit your questions in the comment section below. I always love hearing from you guys.