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2004-44

Dear Gina Guinea Pig

Our normally frisky guinea pig started hobbling around recently, and her appetite is poor. What can we do for her?

Gina Responds

Diet may be the problem. We guinea pigs lack the enzyme necessary to make our own vitamin C, so we need to get it from our food.

Otherwise, we’ll develop vitamin C deficiency, commonly called scurvy.

Unfortunately, guinea pig pellets often lack adequate vitamin C, which is so unstable that half of it disappears within six weeks of manufacture.

Your guinea pig is showing some of the common signs of vitamin C deficiency. These include reluctance to move because of painful joints and ribs, poor appetite, and malocclusion of the teeth.

The disease is treated by feeding a diet high in vitamin C, in addition to guinea pig pellets and hay.

My favorite vitamin C-rich foods are green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard, dandelion greens, parsley and spinach. Green peppers and oranges also are good sources of vitamin C.

Don’t add a vitamin C tablet to your guinea pig’s water bottle, though, because vitamin C is unstable in water after 30 minutes. Besides, it tastes so bitter I won’t drink it.

See your veterinarian if your guinea pig doesn’t respond to a diet of vitamin C-rich foods.

 

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