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15 May 2024
Guinea Pigs

Importance of Vitamin C in Guinea Pigs

Importance of Vitamin C in Guinea Pigs 

Guinea pigs have a daily requirement for vitamin C in their diet, just as humans do. Most animals can manufacture their own vitamin C; however Guinea pigs are unable to do so as they lack a crucial enzyme in the absorption pathway. 

It is absorbed in the jejunum, part of the small intestine, as appose to being synthesised in the body. The main role of vitamin C in the body is the synthesis and repair of collagen which forms the basis of skin, tendons, ligaments, muscles and blood vessels. It is also essential for many other processes such as blood sugar regulation, reproduction and the fight flight response (vital to a small mammal’s survival). It acts as an antioxidant and can assist with the immune system protecting the body against disease. 

They can retain in the body tissue for a maximum of 4 days and if not topped up the store becomes quickly depleted, leading to vitamin C deficiency, commonly known a scurvy. Scurvy can lead to many problems including weakness and lethargy, weight loss, anaemia, loose or broken teeth, bleeding gums, pain on movement, hair loss and other symptoms as well. If left untreated it can lead to convulsion or death with 3-4 weeks. 

Ensure guinea pigs have daily vitamin C in the diet such as leafy vegetables and some fruit, also ensure the food you use is a complete diet and contain vitamin C. If you would like advice on diets, please call Langford Vets Practice to discuss our range of suitable products. 

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