Posted: May 27, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: This isn't really a question, but I thought I'd share this with you. My guinea pig, Poppy, lost most of the hair on her back and sides. Our vet couldn't find anything wrong, there were no parasites on her and her ovaries felt fine. Recently I was eating an orange and decided to give Poppy a slice, only one, because I've read that oranges can cause mouth sores due to the high acid content. Poppy enjoyed the orange so much that I started giving her one slice every evening. Her hair grew back! I had been using vitamin C drops in her water, and she gets a lot of greens in her diet, I thought that would be adequate but apparently she needs that one slice of orange. I am thrilled that her hair has grown back. Poppy is no longer the bald guinea pig.
A: This is great news. I’m glad you were able to help Poppy. Most guinea pigs will not eat citrus foods even though they are an excellent source of vitamin C. And as you mention, vitamin C is very important to supplement in guinea pigs. Guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C and so, like primates, we need to supplement vitamin C in a guinea pig’s diet.
Without vitamin C, we can see many different manifestations of disease. The most common signs include stiff joints, arthritis, pain and a reluctance to walk. The hair loss sounds like it was due to vitamin C deficiency, as this condition improved once you supplemented vitamin C.
This points out an important lesson. Ideally, supplement vitamin C in foods or in vitamin C treats or tablets that are made for guinea pigs, or even people.
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