Why Your Guinea Pig Needs Vitamin C But Your Dog Doesn't

Image of two guinea pigs.

We all need to eat a complete and balanced diet. We feed our dogs and cats food developed by companies that study their nutritional needs, but if you study the list of ingredients, Vitamin C is not listed. When we prepare our own meals, we have to make sure we consume a source of Vitamin C such as orange juice. Ever wonder why most pets don't need this vitamin?

The vast majority of animals in the world make their own Vitamin C and don't need to consume any. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. This vitamin is important for several enzyme reactions in the body. It is a factor in pathways making collagen and other substances that are important in healing and preventing bleeding from capillaries. It is an antioxidant and is also required to make adrenaline and dopamine.

Some species of animals have lost the ability to make Vitamin C however. A genetic defect occurred in guinea pigs, fruit bats, capybaras, some reptiles, and many primates, including humans. This defect causes the inability to make the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase in the liver. This enzyme allows the body to convert glucose to ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C.

These animals must consume Vitamin C in order to be healthy. That why it is important that people, and these other animals drink orange juice or eat other foods high in Vitamin C.

As far as pets are concerned, dogs and cats make their own Vitamin C and do not need to consume any. It is important, though, to feed guinea pigs a diet high in ascorbic acid. That is why you should feed them a pelleted diet made for guinea pigs and not one made for rabbits. The guinea pig diet contains Vitamin C while the rabbit food does not.

If you have any questions regarding nutrition for your pet, you can ask your veterinarian for help.

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  • "We have a new 8 week Boston Terrier that we took to Springfield Vet yesterday for the first time. Absolutely pleased with the service, attitudes and genuine care shown to our little boy. The whole team was so professional, but took time to talk to you and explain everything. Dr Cynthia Wiseman is so wonderful, she sat in the floor did Logan's exam and played with him. What bedside manners. I will continue to use them, I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a caring and professional vet."
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    Our boy, Samson, is a Rottie (and quite the problem child). We are usually in the clinic almost every other month for something and they are always so helpful and show great care and love for our pup! We are very picky/protective puppy parents, so we were very grateful to have found both Dr. Cynthia and Dr. Heath shortly after getting Samson.

    We have definitely found our "home" in the vet world, and would highly recommend to anyone who is currently looking!"
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  • "I have been taking my dog to SVC since 2012 and when I adopted my cat in 2015. I have never had a bad experience. We have seen Drs. Heath & Cynthia Wiseman and I love them both. Always professional, always take their time when looking my pets over, asking questions, and answering mine."
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  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "We’ve been taking our Moose there for a few years now. After swallowing a toy when he was a puppy, getting fixed, having surgery on his eyelids a couple times, and most recently having a breed specific illness; I can I say I would recommend everyone to go here. They’ve taken the best care of our boy time and time again and went above and beyond."
    Ashley J.
  • "Pleasant staff.,very informative. Great environment for your pets, including own room for cats to play so as they aren't stressed out."
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  • "Dr. Cynthia Wiseman has helped my little Shiba dog with chronic hip problems tremendously with consistent acupuncture therapy! So thankful for this practice and the high quality of care they offer my pets!"
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