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

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Scurvy:

A deficiency of Vitamin C causes a syndrome called scurvy.  Symptoms include bleeding and bruising.  There is poor healing and decreased immunity.  Animals are commonly anemic and may have loose teeth.

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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Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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