Why Guinea Pigs Need Vitamin C

Guinea pigs are wonderful pets that are a joy to observe and interact with, and they have something in common with us humans that no other companion pet does! Did you know that guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C in their bodies like most other animals do? Just like humans, they have to get it through their food. As a responsible piggie parent, it’s your job to ensure that your guinea pig’s diet meets their unique nutritional requirements, and we’re here to teach you all about it!

Why is Vitamin C so Important?
The body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a building block for all kinds of different issues. This means that vitamin C plays an important role in keeping skin, joints, gums, and the whole immune system healthy and helping wounds heal.

What Happens if Guinea Pigs Don’t Get Enough Vitamin C?
Most guinea pigs need between 10 and 30mg of vitamin C per day to maintain good health. Any excess that is not required will be excreted through the urine and will not be absorbed through the body. Piggies who are still growing, pregnant, nursing, or sick may require extra vitamin C in their diet as recommended by your veterinarian.

Deficiency in vitamin C is generally referred to as ‘scurvy’ and in guinea pigs, will typically present itself as the following symptoms:

  • Poor coat
  • Swelling and ulcers on the skin or gums/mouth area
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Swollen joints and difficulty moving
  • Lethargy
  • Issues with wound healing

How do you Supplement Vitamin C in the Diet?
While a guinea pig’s diet should include around 80% hay, a portion of formulated guinea pig food, as well as fresh vegetables and fruit, must be fed daily to supplement them with the required vitamin C.

  • Packaged Food: Guinea pig food you buy at the store should be of good quality and contain high amounts of vitamin C in a stabilized form. Vitamin C is considered a relatively “unstable” vitamin, meaning it will break down over time, especially if exposed to light, heat, and moisture. Because of this, your guinea pig may not receive the amount of vitamin C listed on the bag. It is always recommended to follow the manufacturer’s “best before” recommendation and try to feed the entire bag of food within 90 days after opening to ensure that your guinea pig does not become deficient. It is also important to monitor whether or not your piggie is eating all the food given to them. Many mixed guinea pig foods contain “extras” such as dried fruit, seeds and nuts alongside the fortified pellets containing added vitamin C. However, these pellets are typically the least appealing to guinea pigs, and they will often pick out the “extras,” leaving the nutritionally balanced pellets behind. Our experts recommend feeding your guinea pigs a purely pelleted formulation to ensure that they consume the required vitamins and nutrients. Check out our selection of quality guinea pig food options in store!
  • Vegetables & Fruit: Besides pellets, the other primary source of vitamin C for guinea pigs is fresh vegetables and occasionally fruit. Feed a portion of veggies that are high in vitamin C each day, such as leafy greens, but be cautious not to overfeed veggies or fruits that are high in sugar (leads to obesity or intestinal issues) or high in calcium (guinea pigs are predisposed to bladder stones). Check this detailed chart to help you decide which fruits and veggies are safe for your guinea pigs: https://guineadad.com/blogs/news/guineadad-veggie-masterlist-what-kinds-of-vegetables-can-your-guinea-pig-eat

At Feeds ‘n Needs, we think your animals deserve the best, and that’s why we are proud to offer top-quality nutrition solutions for pets of all sizes! Stop by your local Feeds ‘n Needs, and one of our experts can show you our selection of guinea pig foods your piggie will be sure to love! We are always happy to answer any questions you may have!

Are you interested in learning more about small animals? Check out our related blog posts!
Small Animal Dental Health

Small Animal Dental Health
Small Animal Dental Health

Small Animal Dental Health

As responsible small animal owners, it’s our job to educate ourselves on the proper care needed to ensure our pets’ health and well-being, including taking care of their dental health.

Did you know many small mammals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas, have open-rooted teeth? Meaning that throughout their entire lives, their teeth never stop growing! Because of this, these animals are more at risk of acquiring painful dental issues such as tooth overgrowth, abscesses in the mouth, and malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth).

Early Detection is Key

Because they are prey animals, it’s in the nature of our small pets to hide any signs of pain or illness they may be experiencing. This can make early detection difficult, so taking your small pets to be examined by a veterinarian at least once per year is recommended. A vet specializing in exotic pets will be able to thoroughly examine your pet and identify any issues that should be treated immediately to ensure your pet’s good health.

Between checkups, it is important to familiarize yourself with the normal appearance of your pet’s teeth and know what symptoms or behaviours could indicate possible dental issues.

Symptoms to Watch For:

  • Noticeably overgrown teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or dropping food from the mouth
  • Watery eyes, nasal discharge or drooling from the mouth
  • Weight loss
  • Reluctance or refusal to eat
  • Reduced grooming and/or bald patches of fur
  • Visible signs of pain (i.e., hunching in a corner, grinding teeth, etc.)

Prevention 

Thankfully, most forms of acquired dental disease in small animals are preventable with proper diet and care. For small herbivores like rabbits and guinea pigs, a diet that lacks free-choice hay is arguably the most common cause of these dental issues.

  • Hay vs. Pellets – Because hay is high in fibre and stimulates natural chewing and dental wear patterns, various grass hay options should always be available to your herbivorous animals. While many pet parents still consider hay more of a treat for their small pets, at least 75% of their diet should be made up of it, with fortified pelleted food being fed daily in a measured amount (following the manufacturer’s direction.) We offer a variety of grass hay and pelleted foods to provide your small pets with the proper diet they require.
  • Leafy Greens and Vegetables – Supplementary foods such as dark leafy greens and vegetables have a coarse consistency, which will help your small animals keep their teeth worn down and should be offered to them in a limited amount daily. Ensure that the vegetables or greens you give your pet are safe for their particular species.
  • Chew Toys – Besides providing a proper diet, species-appropriate chew toys should also be available to your small pets. Toys and chews made from woven hay, untreated wood, dried sticks, or cardboard provide excellent opportunities for your pet to wear down their incisors while offering them enrichment and mental stimulation. We have a great selection of safe, natural chews to keep your pet busy while keeping their teeth healthy!

Visit one of our Experts at your local Feeds ‘n Needs store to see our great selection of small animal essentials and ask any questions you may have about proper dental care. We are always eager to help!

Livestock bedding options
Livestock bedding options

Livestock Bedding Options

When it comes to providing your livestock with bedding, making sure it’s clean, absorbent and comfortable is a must. There are several options for materials that you can use to place under your animals in their enclosure to ensure overall well-being. Organic materials are usually best, as they contain lower levels of bacteria counts, resulting in better air quality and less discomfort (and will consequently result in less sores and other harmful ailments). While the type of flooring, animal breed and population density of animals in the enclosure matter when choosing the right bedding, here are a few good organic options to consider when making an informed decision for your furry friends.

Vegetable Litter for bedding

Plant litter is arguable the least harmful option for the environment, as it’s ecological and biodegradable and can be a great solution for your poultry flock! It’s mainly composed of natural elements, like wood chips, hay or pellets and is mainly used for animal enclosures.

Ripe wood

If you opt for a wood-based litter, it’s recommended to use soft wood that’s specially treated for composting purposes if you want better absorption quality. Like wood shavings, which are both absorbent and comfortable for farm animals. An interesting aspect of plant litter is that it doesn’t produce much dust, which benefits the respiratory health of the animals.

Hay and straw

Hay or straw are also materials used to create bedding for farm animals. Hay is cut and dried legumes and or grasses and is commonly used for feed, but lower qualities of hay are great for bedding purposes. Ensuring the quality of the hay is not palatable so animals don’t consume it.

If you’re considering using hay or straw, it’s important to know that there’s a bit more upkeep required due to the lower levels of absorbency than some other litter options. Another thing to consider is to ensure the quality of the hay or straw is older and dry when you are spreading it, as old hay may give off dust, resulting in potential respiratory damage in animals. When they have a high level of humidity, the risk of mold increases which rapidly grows bacteria that can be harmful to your animals.

Peat moss

Within the vegetable little category, you can also find peat moss as an option. This type of litter is becoming increasingly popular, as it tends to be more absorbent than wood or hay and it helps eliminate the amount of flies in facilities. Peat moss has a controlled PH, which helps to reduce odors and the amount of ammonia in the litter. This bedding has even been known to help improve areas of animal health, including udders, legs and airways. 

Sources:

https://monvet.com/fr/fiche-informative/85/differentes-sortes-de-litieres

https://www.zoomalia.com/blog/article/quelle-litiere-choisir-pour-mon-chat.html

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liti%C3%A8re

https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/fact-sheets/pdf/Bedding%2008-05.pdf

https://www.meunerievicto.com/fr/

https://www.meunerieacadienne.com/quoi-mettre-dans-les-enclos/

Animal Welfare During a Heat Wave
Animal Welfare During a Heat Wave

Animal Welfare During a Heat Wave

On hot days, it’s important to think about our four legged friends because chances are, they are probably hotter than you are.  This article offers a few tips and solutions to help you keep your animals comfortable and cool during hot weather. Be sure to think about animal welfare during a heat wave!

Keep your pet well hydrated

No surprise here! Like their owner, animals must stay hydrated at all times and even more during hot periods. Make sure to give your pets water as often as possible during the day. The same goes for animals on farm. Think, for example, of cows, pigs or even horses, who drink large amounts of water on a normal day. Add a heat wave or drought in there and their water needs significantly amplify. Offer several areas on your property that allow for animals to have easy access to water, either on the ground, around the building or in your home. 

Place ice cubes in the water to keep it cool. One trick to encourage your pet to drink more frequently: put bowls of water throughout your house, instead of having one spot they can go to drink. When going out with your pet, bring more water than you think is enough for yourself and your companion. Also, try to avoid going out in peak heat times (afternoon) and aim instead to go in the morning or the evening when the weather cools down.

If the pavement is too hot, consider putting booties on your pet so they don’t injure or burn their pads. If the weather is too hot, indoor activities are best. Consider playing games to develop the animal’s mental faculties, to allow them to burn energy while avoiding the hot sun.

Avoiding the sun

Close curtains and blinds to prevent the sun’s rays from entering and heating the house. For bird owners, try as much as possible to keep them away from the windows. If allowed, installing a small shaded kiddie pool can prove to be the perfect refreshment tool for dogs who love the water and swimming. 

If you are on a farm, try to have a few places on land where animals can shade, like a shelter.

Identifying heatstroke in your pet

It is crucial to know how to recognize heat stroke in a pet! In case of heatstroke, the animal should see a veterinarian without delay. Here are some important symptoms to watch out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bright red gums
  • Disorientation
  • Body temperature exceeding 40 degrees Celsius

When transporting your animal to the vet, cool it with a cold towel over their body. Do not use ice cubes.

Also, watch out for dogs with flat noses, older animals and young people. They are more at risk of having difficulty breathing during heat waves!

Other tips and tricks

Here are some additional hips to keep your pets cool at all times:

  • Freeze a bottle of water and wrap it in a kitchen towel. Then place the cold bottle near the places where you pet is resting.  Your animal should stay near it to cool down.
  • Brush your pet often. A tangle free coat will be more comfortable for your pet, especially on a really hot day.
  • Leave a cold water base in the bath so that your companions can soak their paws from time to time.

During periods of extreme heat, get in the habit of observing the behavior of your animals and make sure they don’t lack any water or shade. Thanks to these tips, you now have some handy tools up your sleeve to make the hot days more pleasant and much safer for your animals!