5 Things Guinea Pig Owners Need To Know About Scurvy

6 June 2015
 Categories: , Blog

Most people have heard of scurvy before, but you may be surprised to learn that this condition isn't just something that happened to sailors a long time ago. Scurvy is still a problem in the present day, and it can even effect your cute little guinea pigs. Here's what you need to know about this potentially life-threatening condition. 

What is scurvy?

Scurvy is a serious condition that's caused by a Vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is essential for things like growth and development, and without it, your guinea pigs can't repair their damaged cells. This means that their wounds won't heal and the tissues in their skin, bones, and tendons will break down. 

Why are guinea pigs at risk of scurvy?

Guinea pigs, just like humans, can't make or store Vitamin C, so they need to eat foods that contain Vitamin C on a regular basis. If you don't feed them a specially formulated guinea pig food that contains added Vitamin C, or if you never supplement their diet with fruits and vegetables, your guinea pigs could get scurvy. 

How do you know your guinea pigs have scurvy?

Guinea pigs tend to hide any signs of illness for as long as they can; this is because in the wild, visibly sick guinea pigs are a target for predators. For this reason, you need to pay really close attention to changes in your guinea pigs' behavior. If they seem more tired than normal, aren't interested in their food, and don't want to play with you, you should be concerned. You may also notice that they are limping or cry out in pain when you pet them; this happens when scurvy damages the tissues. 

How do vets treat scurvy?

Vets treat scurvy with supplements of Vitamin C; the vitamin is either injected or given in pill form. This treatment sounds simple, but don't try to treat your guinea pigs at home with multivitamins. Vets know the right amount of Vitamin C to use to treat scurvy, but if you try a home treatment, you may give them too much or not enough of the vitamin and make the problem worse.

What happens if your guinea pigs aren't treated?

Scurvy won't get better on its own, but fortunately, all your sick guinea pigs need is a trip to an emergency vet to feel better. If your guinea pigs don't get help quickly, they can die, just like humans with scurvy can. 

Scurvy is a big problem for guinea pigs, so if you think your guinea pigs have it, take them to an animal hospital right away.