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Pet Me! Magazine

Avast ye mateys! My guinea pig has scurvy!

Since the early maritime years the British have been called “Limeys”— a nickname rooted in their habit of taking citrus onto the high seas to prevent scurvy. Caused by vitamin C deficiency, scurvy can be fatal if left untreated long enough. In its early stages skin is unhealthy, hair falls out, bones ache, and the immune system is weakened, making other diseases more likely. Today we don’t see many people afflicted with this ancient disease. But the veterinary world still does, and one common patient is the pet

guinea pig. Unlike most domesticated animals, guinea pigs need vitamin C to survive. Without enough of it they develop scurvy just like those sailors. Most people believe that the store-bought pelleted food they feed their little piggies is ideally formulated to maintain the health of their little friends. And they may be, but because vitamin C is light sensitive the vitamin can degrade by the time the guinea pig eats it—either in the bag or in the bowl.

To counter this, many people add a vitamin supplement to their guinea pig’s water supply. However, twenty minutes after the light hits the vitamin C it becomes worthless colored water. Even supplementing your pig’s diet with fresh items may not be sufficient. I have seen many piggies with classic scurvy signs even though they ate fresh items. Preventing scurvy in your guinea pig will nearly always require oral

vitamin tablets. Guinea pigs require between 50-100 mg of vitamin C per day. Good choices are either children’s chewable tablets quartered to give 50-100 mg, or specially-made Oxbow brand apple-flavored tablets available at specialty stores or exotic animal veterinary hospital. You can give these orally, as treats, or dissolve them with a little water and administer it immediately with a syringe or dropper. Most piggies really love the flavored treat and will live a longer, healthier life because of it. by, Amber Wheelbarger, DVM

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June/July 2010 Issue of Pet Me! Magazine  
June/July 2010 Issue of Pet Me! Magazine  

Your Guide To All Things Pets. Picking The Perfect Kennel. Turtle Tales How To mke Your Home turtle-iffic! Matters of the Heart - How To Spo...