One commonly known condition in guinea pigs is scurvy!

Arr! Beware the guinea pig pirate!

Scurvy, most commonly known for pirates becoming diseased at sea due to a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables, can also effect guinea pigs, despite their land lubber ways.

Scurvy, more scientifically, is a deficiency of vitamin C, or hypovitaminosis C. You can check out more in humans at wikipedia:

Yeah, i know, never use wikipedia as a reference, but in this case it’s quite handy.

What sort of clinical signs can you see in a guinea pig with scurvy?

As vitamin C is used in enzyme reactions and tissues, namely collagen, everything breaks down when there isn’t enough:

  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to move
  • Weakness
  • Hopping instead of walking (the guinea pig lameness)
  • Weight loss
  • Pain
  • Rough coat or hair loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bruising/haemorrhage
  • Discharge from eyes and nose

How can we treat it?

A convenient way to treat vitamin c deficiency / scurvy is with 50 mg/kg vitamin C PO every day as required, until clinical signs disappear. This can be achieved by dissolving half of a 100 mg chewable vitamin C tablet in water and then slowly administering this solution by syringe into your cavy’s mouth.

Leaving the vitamin C in the water source is risky as you bring a lot more factors into play – water consumed, sunlight, plastic, spillage. It’s inaccurate. Dont do it.

How can we prevent it?

The best way to prevent scurvy in guinea pigs is to provide a diet high in vitamin C.
This is most easily achieved with 80% grass hay, 15-20% green fresh vegetables and 0-5% treats and pellets.
Good sources of vitamin C for guinea pigs include:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Bok choy
  • Capsicum
  • Kiwi fruit and strawberries – in moderation – remember to avoid high carbs!

For more on diet, check out the Exotics Vets post on diet here:

Popcorn to it!


  • Melbourne Rabbit Clinic. Rabbit & Guinea Pig Emergency Manual 2014. MRC. 2014.