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Guinea Pig Vitamin C Requirements

Published: 8/24/2012 | Author: HappyCavy | Updated: 10/8/2017

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Vitamin C Powder

As many guinea pig caretakers already know, there’s much more to caring for your guinea pig than cage cleaning and cuddle time. Along with the cuddles and cleaning, healthy guinea pigs require a regular health-care routine that includes weekly weigh-ins, sight-and-touch “physicals,” ear cleanings, nail trimmings, daily floor times, and, of course, daily doses of Vitamin C.

Like Humans, guinea pigs are not able to produce Vitamin C on their own, and so they must be given a Vitamin C supplement each day.

While your guinea pig can get much of its daily Vitamin C requirement through a diet of high quality hay and pellets, the exact amount of dietary Vitamin C that your guinea pig will absorb cannot be known. Therefore, it never hurts to supplement its diet with a dose of Vitamin C each day.

Like Humans, guinea pigs are not able to produce vitamin C on their own and so they must be given a vitamin C supplement each day.

While your guinea pig can get much of his or her daily vitamin C requirement through a diet of high quality hay and pellets, the exact amount of dietary vitamin C that your guinea pig will absorb cannot be known. Therefore, it never hurts to supplement a your guinea pig’s diet with a dose of vitamin C each day.

The Importance of Vitamin C

In fact, providing daily doses of vitamin C each day is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your guinea pigs stays happy, healthy, and strong. This is because vitamin C helps guinea pigs maintain and develop healthy bones, blood vessels, and connective tissues while promoting the development and strength of many other vital health functions.

Vitamin C is so important for your guinea pig that a Vitamin C deficiency can result in a myriad of health problems, such as: weakness, lethargy (laziness), diarrhea, and even internal hemorrhage. Yikes!

The Question

OK, so guinea pigs need Vitamin C.

But what’s an easy way to give your guinea pig its daily required dose? And what type of Vitamin C supplement should you use?

An Easy Way to Give Your Guinea Pig Vitamin C

In our opinion, the best way to supplement your guinea pig’s diet is to prepare a daily treat by applying a small amount of Vitamin C powder to a favorite watery snack.

HappyCavy uses Swanson Brand 100% Pure Vitamin C Powder. A 16oz container of it will last you quite a long time. Jump here for the link!

HappyCavy uses Swanson Brand 100% Pure Vitamin C Powder. A 16oz container of it will last you quite a long time. Jump here for the link!

The HappyCavy sisters get their Vitamin C supplement each day during floor time. A Human will thinly slice several pieces of cucumber and apply a small amount of crystallized Vitamin C powder onto the slices. Vitamin C powder can be quite sour, and cutting the cucumber into small, super-thin slices means that there isn’t a lot of time for the pigs to notice the sour – they just get so excited to have a piece of yummy cucumber each day!

By now, we have grown accustomed to our daily sour treat and we scream our little heads off to get it!

Don’t be a silly Human! Avoid using vitamin C water drops to supplement your cavy’s diet!

When using water drops, you are not able to adequately judge the vitamin C dose that each guinea pig receives. Also, vitamin C is not water stable, meaning it will mostly likely break down before your guinea pig has a chance to ingest it.

How Much Vitamin C Powder Should I Use

Guinea pigs should get 10 to 30 milligrams of Vitamin C each day. This is a relatively small amount, so the Humans aren’t too keen on exactly measuring the powder doses. (Guinea pigs can tolerate a generous amount of vitamin C. But keep the portion very SMALL, as too much vitamin can give your guinea pigs the runs…and we’re not talking about laps around the cage.)

A daily portion of vitamin C for one guinea pig

When applying Vitamin C onto the cucumber slices, the Humans use a butter knife to portion a small amount of powder, just enough to cover the tip of the knife. The Vitamin C is then spread over the top of each cucumber piece, making sure the power dissolves into the vegetable as thoroughly as possible. Once it is worked into the cucumber pieces, they are promptly fed to a gaggle of wheeking HappyCavy guinea pigs.

The Humans find that vegetables high in water content work best for administrating Vitamin C in this way. The high water content helps quickly dissolve the powder, plus the HappyCavies love them cucumber snacks. Other vegetables that work well are tomato, bell pepper, and nearly any type of fruit.

An additional note: Because the powder can taste sour, feed a small snack to your guinea pig after giving the Vitamin C treat. This will help to prevent the powder from irritating your cavy’s mouth.

Share Your Thoughts

How do you give your guinea pigs vitamin C? What kind of vitamin C supplement do you use?

We’d love to hear what you have to say!

Guinea Pig Vitamin C Requirements, 4.3 out of 5 based on 20 ratings
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  • Erin Schimpf

    Wonderful Idea! I use Oxbow Vit C tabs and I’ll just crush a tab and do this. Much easier than trying to force my boys. Thank you!

  • Aria

    I put a measured amount into their water, and they’ve been drinking that literally their entire lives. Is that okay? I haven’t seen any problems at all.

  • Vitamin C isn’t water stable, which means that it breaks down very quickly when given in water. As long as your guinea pig is getting fresh hay and pellets, they are probably getting enough vitamin C in their diet. But our Humans like to be extra safe and supplement our vitamin C intake by using the method outlined in this article.

    I hope that helps answer your question! And thanks for commenting 😀

  • Stephanie

    Can you buy the vitamin c drops for guinea pigs and put a few drops on the cumcumber and then feed the guinea pigs the cumcumber can I do that?

  • Sharon Campus

    I can’t seem to find the amount of a Vit C vegetable that will meet the daily requirement. The chart is great, and I know they should get 20-30 mg daily, but what amount of a particular food? A slice, a chunk,etc? Thank you

  • I’m not sure I understand your question, I think you’re asking how much of a particular food should they receive to get the 20-30mg Vitamin C dose? If so, you can check out our Guinea Pig Food Nutrition List to see the Vitamin C amounts in a certain food per 100g. Hope that helps!

  • Gianna Piggiesf

    Well i am wondering if too much vit C can harm them..What exactly you mean that it will give them ”the runs”?Also i heard from someone that extra vit c can make white marks in piggies pee..any ideas about it as i havent read anything about it while i am searching in the websites/forums etc!!!Thank you in advance for any answer from you!!

  • Hi, Gianna! That’s a great question. Too much of anything can be bad. Excess Vitamin C has been implicated in urinary tract stones, diarrhea and other things in humans, so it stands to reason that guinea pigs could also develop these issues. Several reputable forums list bladder stones as another potential symptom of too much Vitamin C, but I cannot verify that statement.

    By “the runs”, we mean loose or wet stool, similar to diarrhea. As long as you are providing a reasonable level (10 to 30 milligrams required), over-dosing isn’t an issue. It’s when you get into the hundreds of milligrams when issues may begin to develop.

    Hope this answers your question!

  • Tiffany

    Hi Hammy,

    I give my pigs weekly vitamin C pellets. They’re from oxbow, and it’s called Daily C (I only give them weekly, as I feed them veggies that are high in vitamins daily). Here’s a link: As Cookie doesn’t eat them, should I possibly mush them up, and scatter it on some fruits?

    Thanks, Cocoa&Cookie

  • You could certainly try that. I would be careful to mash them up really well, almost to powder form. As with any supplement, just be sure to follow the recommended dosage, or ask your vet for their opinion 🙂

  • Tiffany

    Okay! It worked great, and after this week, I’m going to try to start feeding the actual pellets to her! Thanks so much!

  • Mia

    Great article! Sometimes I crush a Vitamin C tablet and put it on some damp romaine lettuce.

  • karen

    I have two young guinea pigs (less than 6 months old) and they are picky! I tried the cucumber with Vitamin C and they will not eat it. The only vegetables those two will eat is carrots and lettuce (lot’s of different kinds) neither of which the Vitamin C will stick to very well. Any other suggestions for vegetables to add the vitamin C to? They also won’t eat kale, red or yellow bell peppers, strawberries, parsley……they are picky!

  • What about cutting the carrot lengthwise and running it under water, then applying the vitamin C powder? Enough would stick, I think, to provide the daily requirement. What do you think?

  • karen

    Yes, that would probably work and they love carrots! Do you have any other suggestions for vegetables to try (just in general not for the vitamin C) I would love to add some new fruits or vegetables to their diet, but everything I try they ignore. They do like apples and corn husk in addtion to the lettuce and carrots I mentioned before, but I don’t give these as often.

  • I would normally suggest cucumber or pepper, but since your pigs are picky, I honestly can’t think of any other. It seems like with what you’ve outlined, they are already getting a great variety. Citrus fruits like orange or a veg like a cherry tomato may go over well, but you don’t want to feed those often as well. Sorry, your pigs are just so picky! 😀

  • karen

    It’s funny that BOTH of them are that way! Do you think if I continue to offer any of these veggies like the cucumber or peppers they might eventually try them? Or just move on?

  • Hmm, they may end up trying them if you persist. But it’s entirely up to you. I would probably try a few more times then move on 🙂

  • David

    After reading a bunch off stuff about guinea pigs need for vitamin C and seeing the ridiculous cost of vitamin C pills/drops. I assumed their must be a better way. This has worked out great. I follow your video step by step. Only thoughtful and cost effective solution I found.

  • I’m glad this guide helped you, David! 🙂

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About This Guinea Pig Website

HappyCavy has been online since June 2009 with Hammy and Piglet. In October of 2009, a sweet, fuzzy cavy named Bitsy joined the webcam broadcasts.

Feebee and Buttercup were welcomed to the HappyCavy Forever Home as friends and co-conspirators in January 2011. Dot joined us on July 2012, and Winnie and Rosie were the most recent addition on February 8, 2015 and June 6, 2015, respectively. Learn more about the guinea pigs here.

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