Unlike many animals, guinea pigs are a bit picky about what they eat. Regardless of this, they absolutely must have a sufficient amount of vitamin C in their diets. Without the proper amount of vitamin C, your guinea pig can develop scurvy and die. Unlike humans, guinea pigs are not capable of manufacturing their own vitamin C.So, how much vitamin C does your guinea pig need? An adult guinea pig requires at least 10mg of vitamin C daily. If your guinea pig is nursing or pregnant, she requires more, up to 20mg daily. It is important that you understand that vitamin C is only effective when it is fresh. This means that even if you purchase pellets that contain vitamin C, the amount of vitamin C that your guinea pig requires must be acquired from other sources.
You can add vitamin C supplements to your guinea pigs food, but this isn't necessarily tasty for them, or cost effective for you. The best sources of vitamin C for your guinea pig will come from fresh fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, with vitamin C supplements, you won't have to wonder if you are giving your guinea pig the proper amount of vitamin C.
If you want to use fresh fruits and vegetables for their vitamin C content, choose green peppers, red peppers, carrots, apples, bananas, broccoli, celery, cucumber, cilantro, grass, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, kiwi, oranges, oats, raspberries, spinach, tomatoes, and parsley.
Be careful when feeding fresh fruits and vegetables to your guinea pig. Introduce one food at a time, and remember that fruits and vegetables digest very quickly in guinea pigs. Be on the lookout for runny stools, and if this occurs, remove the food that the guinea pig just ate from his diet.
One serious drawback to feeding your guinea pig fresh fruits and vegetables is that you have to purchase foods that have not been treated with pesticides. Always look for organic foods when shopping for your guinea pig.
Also note that not just any fresh fruits and vegetables are suitable for your guinea pig. Certain foods should always be avoided. Celery is mentioned above, but that celery must be skinned and chopped into small pieces. Make sure that there are no celery strings present. Lettuce is a food that your guinea pig will enjoy, but he should be fed romaine lettuce, and not iceberg lettuce, which has little nutritional value, with high nitrates.
Nuts and seeds should be avoided, because they are a choking hazard for your guinea pig. Some foods are beyond hazardous-they can be deadly. This includes raw beans and rhubarb. If you feed your guinea pig these foods, you may as well be feeding them poison.
Again, introduce one food at a time to your guinea pig, and see how his body reacts to it. Make note of the foods that cause him not to feel good, as well as foods that he seems to dislike, but make sure that he is getting plenty of vitamin C.