April 30, 2019

Five Reasons Oxbow Garden Select Will Make Your Pets Hop For Joy

Five Reasons Oxbow Garden Select Will Make Your Pets Hop For Joy

Are you looking for a premium, garden-inspired line of foods that even the pickiest eaters can’t resist?  Oxbow’s Garden Select small animal foods have quickly become favorites of rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small pets everywhere.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the product highlights and key ingredients that make Garden Select such a standout in the pet food aisle.

1. It’s expertly formulated to meet the specific needs of your pet.

Like all of Oxbow’s food lines, Garden Select is formulated with the guidance of leading exotics veterinarians and nutritionists.  That means you can rest assured that every bite comes complete with all the premium ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your rabbit, guinea pig, or other small pet needs to thrive.

All small pets are unique, and animals have specific needs at different stages of life.  That’s why Garden Select is formulated to meet the specific species and life stage needs of your beloved pets.  Our new young formulas provide the concentrated nutrition young, growing, and pregnant/lactating animals need.  Meanwhile, our adult formulas are carefully-crafted to meet the needs of animals once they’re grown.   

2. Pets love the taste – even without the “junk food” ingredients in other foods.

Many conventional small animal foods rely on unhealthy “mix” ingredients to entice pets at mealtime.  The sugary, starchy, high calorie ingredients in these foods can lead to a myriad of health problems, including obesity, digestive upset, and unhealthy selective-eating habits.  In addition to being a uniform & complete food (like all Oxbow formulas), Garden Select offers a delicious herbal aroma and flavor that even the pickiest eaters can’t resist!

3. It’s Non-GMO Project Verified and made with only the healthiest, most premium ingredients. 

For many of us, choosing a food for our small pets that models our own nutritional values is more important than ever before.  Garden Select is Non-GMO Project verified to cater to pet parents who value food options made without relying on the inclusion of genetically-modified ingredients.  In addition to being Non-GMO, the super-premium ingredients in Garden Select are custom-selected for the health and wellness of your pets.      

4. It’s made without soy and wheat for herbivores. 

We know that some pet parents find their furry friends perform best on a diet that doesn’t include soy and wheat-based ingredients.  To provide a premium option to cater to these preferences, we’ve formulated Garden Select rabbit, guinea pig, and chinchilla formulas to be 100% soy and wheat free. 

5. Garden Select is bursting with garden-inspired ingredients!

As its name implies, Garden Select is made with an abundance of the most wholesome ingredients Mother Nature has to offer.  Here’s a closer look at the benefits of some of the highlight ingredients found in various Garden Select foods.  

Timothy, Orchard, and Oat Hay
Fiber is cornerstone of health for all small herbivores.  Providing a variety of hays to your small pets each day offers many important benefits, including providing enrichment, preventing picky eating, and many more.  With these benefits in mind, Garden Select is made with a variety of premium hays.  Timothy, Orchard, and Oat hay provide insoluble fiber which leads to healthy digestion that is essential to the daily health of small herbivores including rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas. 
Tomato provides key benefits for pet parents and pets alike!  Tomato is a great source of fiber, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants.  Dietary fiber promotes a healthy gastrointestinal tract and Omega fatty acids support and maintain a healthy skin and coat.

Whole Yellow Pea
Whole yellow pea is a nutritious & delicious ingredient that is a rich source of both insoluble and soluble fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.  Insoluble fiber is important in the diet for healthy digestion as it promotes movement through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber is key as well; this type of fiber can dissolve in water and aids in controlling blood sugar levels by helping to slow the absorption of sugar. Protein provides essential amino acids.

Rosemary & Thyme
Rosemary and thyme are key contributors to the savory, irresistible aroma of Garden Select.  Additionally, rosemary is a source of natural antioxidants.  Antioxidants can alleviate issues associated with the aging process by helping to fight against cellular damage.

We all know the important benefits of flaxseed in the healthy foods we eat each day.  But, did you know that flax is a power-packed ingredient for small pets as well?  Among flax’s many benefits, it provides Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein.

To learn more about what makes Garden Select such an appealing option for picky eaters and pellet-lovers alike, take a closer look at each of the individual varieties:

Garden Select Young Rabbit
Garden Select Adult Rabbit  
Garden Select Young Guinea Pig
Garden Select Adult Guinea Pig
Garden Select Chinchilla
Garden Select Mouse & Young Rat
Garden Select Adult Rat
Garden Select Hamster & Gerbil

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April 17, 2019

5 Quick Tips for Supporting Your Pet’s Playing Instincts

5 Quick Tips for Supporting Your Pet’s Playing Instincts

1. Keep playtime safe and natural

Your pet’s safety should always be your #1 focus at playtime. Focus on chews and toys that are made of all-natural materials, including hay, natural fibers (e.g. sisal), untreated wood, and vegetable-based dyes.

2. Rotate items regularly for enriching play

Variety isn’t just for mealtime! Provide options at playtime to keep pets mentally stimulated and physically active all day. Rotate chews regularly to keep your pet engaged.

3. Make play an interactive part of every day

Your pet will enjoy playtime even more when you engage in the activity with them. Use your pet’s favorite toys to interact during playtime. Toys with a noise component are particularly fun for interactive play.

4. Combine chews and toys with other everyday staples

Create a game of “hide and seek” to make playtime even more enriching. Hide your pet’s favorite toys in his hay, habitats, or in any other fun location.

5. Provide ample space to roam and play

Pets with access to large play areas will be more likely to be physically active and less prone to obesity. Set up your pet’s space with obstacle courses involving toys, play centers, and more.

Quick Tip

Stimulate your pet’s senses to encourage enrichment! Try offering toys that roll, toys that make noise, and toys with a variety of textures to excite their different senses throughout the day.

Just like the right nutrition, daily opportunities for playing, hiding, chewing and exploring are essential to your pet’s health and happiness. Learn more about how to enrich your pet’s life at www.enrich.pet.

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April 16, 2019

Make Mine Chocolate

Make Mine Chocolate

While surprising a loved one with a rabbit seems like the perfect way to celebrate Easter, a real rabbit isn’t a great impulsive purchase. Here are some reasons to choose a chocolate rabbit for Easter instead:

Your kids aren’t as likely to lose interest in a chocolate rabbit

Children’s interests often change as they age and they may lose interest in having a pet. Loss of interest is one of the most common reasons small animals are surrendered to shelters.

Chocolate rabbits don’t need space to run and play

Rabbits need lots of space to stay healthy. This means a big commitment on your part to pet-proof your home and to set aside time daily for your rabbit to be out of their enclosure.

Chocolate rabbits don’t have repeat expenses

A real rabbit requires regular veterinary care, hay, bedding, fortified food, veggies, a proper enclosure, and enrichment options. These expenses can add up quickly!

You don’t need to surrender a chocolate rabbit

Roughly 4 out of 5 rabbits bought for Easter end up abandoned or in shelters. Every year, surrender rates spike after Easter, putting a strain on shelter resources and personnel.

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April 10, 2019

Types of Hamster Breeds and How to Take Care of Them

Types of Hamster Breeds and How to Take Care of Them

Are you thinking about adopting a hamster or do you want to learn more about the adorable breed that you already have? You’ve come to the right place! In honor of World Hamster Day (April 12), we decided to celebrate by sharing fun hammy facts!

Why is April 12 World Hamster Day?

Israel Aharoni, a biologist who worked in Jerusalem, went in search of the Syrian hamster and on April 12, 1930, found a mother and her pups who became the first domesticated hamsters.

To learn more about Aharoni’s discovery, read The Smithsonian’s fascinating article, “The Untold Story of the Hamster, a.k.a Mr. Saddlebags.” 

Fun Hammy Facts

  • Did you know that hamsters live for about 2 years on average?
  • Hamsters are also master escape artists. Trust us, these sweet little pets would have made Harry Houdini green with envy!
  • Hamsters are nocturnal and shouldn’t be bothered when sleeping.
  • Hamsters are adventurous and curious by nature!
  • Hamsters LOVE grass hays for nesting.
  • Avoid feeding your pet mixes with nuts and seeds, as they tend to be selective eaters.

Hamster Breeds



Syrians are what many typically think of when they see or hear the word “hamster.” Measuring at about 5-7” long and originally hailing from the Middle East, these adorable pets are the largest breed of their species.

Syrians should be housed alone due to their highly territorial natures. They are also nocturnal and will, therefore, spend the majority of the daytime sleeping.

​Teddy Bear

Have you ever noticed how much Teddy Bear hamsters look like Syrian hamsters? That’s because there really isn’t a difference! What is commonly referred to as “Teddy Bear” hamsters tend to look a little bit fluffier as a result of longer and denser fur patterns.



Less commonly known in the Americas, the European hamster boasts a little black belly instead of a white one like many of its wild or domestic cousins. While the majority of these animals remain wild and aren’t very often seen as pets, these adorable hams were first documented in 1679 and have a long and rich history in central and eastern Europe as well as Russia.


Roborovski (aka Robo) Hamster

If you’re looking for the smallest, fastest hamsters known to humankind, look no further than the Roborovski hamster! These long-named, little-bodied Robos may not tend to be as affectionate as the Syrian breed, but they certainly are adorable. Usually measuring at 2” or less, their size paired with their speed make them difficult to handle, making them less than ideal for families with small children.



Originally from the deserts of China and Mongolia, the Chinese hamster differs in looks from many of its relatives due to its tail. While not as long as a gerbil or mouse tail, it does make this mid-size species easy to tell apart.


Winter White Dwarf (Djungarian)

A little larger than Roborovskis, Winter White Hamsters are also a very popular hammy breed. Known for being good-natured, they originated from Russia and are named due to the fact that they often turn almost completely white during the winter months. Winter Whites also go by many names, including Djungarian hamsters.



Similar to the Syrian but slightly smaller, Turkish hamsters are not often kept as pets due to their aggressiveness. They can be found in the wild throughout areas in Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel. Due to their color pattern and snout shape, they are oftentimes mistaken for mice.

Photo care of Hamsters Portal.


Learn More About Hamsters and Hamster Care

When should I take my hamster to the vet? 

What are the specific housing requirements for my hamster? 

Download the free Hamster Care Guide 

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April 10, 2019

Why Does My Pet Need Water?

Why Does My Pet Need Water?

Cayla Iske, PhD

“Provide multiple water sources at all times.” “Make sure your pet is getting enough water.” “Increase water intake.” As a pet parent, you’ve likely heard these recommendations in various places – online, through your veterinarian, within product feeding directions and elsewhere. Is water really that important for pet health? Absolutely! The notion that water doesn’t contain any nutrients is a common and unsafe misconception. We drink water every day, so we forget that water itself is a key and essential nutrient just as important for life as protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. But why?  

What Does Water Do?

 Water makes up about 60% of an animal’s body weight, humans included. More specifically, mammalian cells are composed of nearly 70% water. Cells are the foundation of all tissues in the body and are essential for performing functions to keep a body operating properly including nutrient absorption, immune function, body structure, and everything in between. A body is made up of trillion of cells and in order to properly and efficiently function, every single one of those needs water.

Waters importance goes far beyond cellular activity.  It also helps with joint lubrication to reduce long-term issues, moistening of tissues including the mouth and nose to improve sense of taste and smell, and facilitating the elimination of waste products from the body thereby reducing strain on the liver and kidneys. Water is also key in body temperature regulation which is essential for life. Adequate water intake provides moisture which can be evaporated to cool the body. Evaporation can occur through the skin for animals that have the ability to sweat (perspiration), or via airflow through the lungs and mouth during panting. Water is even essential to proper skin and haircoat formation and maintenance which facilitates a soft, smooth coat. Furthermore, skin is the largest organ in the body and serves as the first line of defense against the outside world. If not properly hydrated, it can lose its structure and barrier function, reducing its role in immunity and leaving the body more vulnerable to pathogens and toxins in the environment.

Specific Importance for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

 All of the aforementioned purposes of water are important for all exotics companion mammal species, but excretion of waste products is especially vital to rabbits and guinea pigs because of their unique physiology. In a previous blog, we talked about how rabbits and guinea pigs are prone to bladder sludge and even bladder stones (Cystic Calculi) as excess calcium is excreted through urine via the kidneys. Filtering urine is one of the normal functions of the kidneys but factors such as excessive calcium or low levels of hydration put additional stress on the kidneys. Increasing water intake dilutes the urine and eases the stress on the kidneys by helping to flush them out. Secondly, it helps to flush more fluid through the bladder which minimizes calcium sediment and the potential of bladder stone formation. This can lead to healthier kidneys and a reduced risk for bladder sludge.

Another important role of water for rabbits and guinea pigs is support of the digestive system through maintaining a hydrated environment. When these animals consume pellets, hay, or other food items that are often relatively low in moisture they need to be lubricated to ensure proper digestion and motility through the GI tract. If direct water consumption is inadequate, the GI tract pulls fluids from internal tissues or blood to properly hydrate these food items, increasing risk of dehydration. When the GI tract and its cells are properly hydrated, they are not only healthier, but more efficient in digestion and motility as well. As a result, proper hydration can mitigate the occurrence of GI stasis.

How Much is Enough?

Water can be supplied either by the diet or through drinking. Pelleted diets and hay that make up a majority of your animal’s diet are very low in water, but fresh greens and veggies are typically about 90% water and will contribute to water intake. However, dietary water alone will not adequately supply your animal. The body is constantly using and losing water so fresh water should always be available. This is even more important when conditions are warm because more water is used for cooling purposes. Typical water intake for exotic companion mammals generally falls around 50-150 mL per kilogram of body weight (National Research Council, 1995), which can serve as a good general guideline for your pet. Rabbits have been shown to drink more water from open dishes rather than nipple drinkers (Tschudin et al., 2011) but it is important to have multiple sources of water to suit the preference of your animal.

Monitoring your animal’s water intake can alert you to changes in health that may be of concern. Observations of reduced water intake may indicate a wide range of issues from dental disease to arthritis while increased water intake may be related to stress, kidney problems, or many other issues. If you notice changes in water intake in your animal, you should consult your veterinarian to assess your animal’s overall health.  



Harcourt-Brown, F. 2011. Importance of water intake in rabbits. Veterinary Record. 185; 189-190.

National Research Council. 1995. Nutrient Requirements of Laboratory Animals. Fourth Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Tschudin, A., Clauss, M., Doron, D. & Hatt, J-M. 2011. Preference of rabbits for drinking from open dishes versus nipple drinkers. Veterinary Record. 168; 190.

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