Guinea Pig Diseases - Scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency)

scurvy in guinea pig
  • Vitamin C deficiency is common in guinea pigs and it causes a disease known as scurvy.
  • Like people guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C and require an outside source of vitamin C in the form of vegetables and fruits.
  • If they do not get enough of this vitamin in their diet, their bodies' supply of vitamin C disappears quickly. This can cause problems with blood clotting and with the production of collagen, a protein necessary for healthy skin and joints.
  • Reduced collagen can cause problems walking, swollen joints, and bleeding under the skin, in the muscles, in the membranes around the skull, in the brain, and in the intestines.
  • Some guinea pigs may develop a vitamin C deficiency even when they get enough vitamin C in their diets. This can happen if they have other illnesses or problems that prevent them from eating enough or prevent their bodies from absorbing vitamin C properly.

    • Diagnosis:
    • Your veterinarian can diagnose vitamin C deficiency by finding out what your pet's diet is like, and by examining your pet, looking especially for bleeding or joint problems.
    • A blood analysis will also be conducted to determine the level of vitamin C in the blood.

    • Weakness
    • Lethargy
    • Loss of appetite
    • Swollen, painful joints
    • Vocalization or crying when handled
    • Rough hair coat
    • Diarrhea
    • Weight loss
    • Discharge from eyes or nose
    • Spots or subcutaneous bleeding may be noticed just under the surface of the skin
    • Small wounds may bleed excessively or not heal as rapidly as normal
    • Internal bleeding may also be present, including in the muscles, the membranes around the skull, the brain, and in the intestines
    • Poor bone and teeth development
    • Sudden death, if left untreated

    • Treatment includes giving your pet vitamin C daily, either by mouth (as directed by your veterinarian) or by injection at your veterinarian's office for 1 to 2 weeks. Multivitamins are not recommended because your pet may have problems with some of the other vitamins contained in them.
    • For a normal health guinea pig, 5 to 10 mg per kilogram of body weight of vitamin C is needed every day. For guinea pigs deficient in vitamin C, 30 mg per kilogram of body weight of vitamin C is needed until the signs of scurvy are gone.

      scurvy prevention Prevention:
    • Make sure you feed guinea pig pellets and not pellets for any other type of animal since guinea pig pellets have vitamin C added.
    • Pellets could be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight as humidity and sunlight will inactivate the Vitamin C, and render it useless to the animal within 90 days. Note the time you buy the product and make sure you discard any leftovers when the 90 days are up.
    • Feeding your guinea pig fresh vegetables high in vitamin C will also help prevent scurvy.
    • Various fruits and vegetables like Guava, orange with the peel, parsley, broccoli, kale and mustard greens have enough vitamin C that make them good choices for treats.
    • To prevent vitamin C deficiency, guinea pig food should contain at least 10 milligrams of vitamin C daily (30 milligrams for pregnant females).
    • Scurvy is a very preventable disease and by feeding a proper diet with plenty of Vitamin C you can make sure your guinea pig avoids it.