July, 2019

July 30, 2019

The Oxbow Way: Ask Learn and Improve

The Oxbow Way: Ask Learn and Improve

Why is the value 'Ask, Learn, and Improve' an intrinsic part of Oxbow Animal Health’s company culture? CEO Deb Buhro explains. 

 

 

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Learn more about the Oxbow Way here.

Learn more about Oxbow's Career Opportunities.

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July 25, 2019

All About Exploring

All About Exploring

One of the great joys of small pet parenting is watching your pet excitedly explore their surroundings each day. Like all great explorers before them, your pet has an instinctual desire for an environment filled with interesting challenges and opportunities for enrichment. Read on to learn more about how to create an environment with fun, enriching opportunities that support your pet’s instinct to explore. 

Provide a variety of safe, natural toys and structures

Meeting your pet’s instinctual exploration behaviors starts with providing a variety of fun challenges in the form of natural toys, play centers, and structures. Place these items throughout your pet’s living space to encourage regular enrichment via exploration. 

Rotate items regularly for enriching exploration

Every explorer relishes new challenges. Rotate new items regularly to keep your little explorer engaged and at the top of his mental and physical game. 

Create interesting spatial challenges each day

Sometimes, creating fun and new challenges is as simple as rearranging your existing environment. Move your pet’s chews, play centers, and structures around each day to present new, interesting spatial challenges to your pet. 

Make sure your pet has ample space to roam and explore

Habitats provide a great place for rest and relaxation, but every pet should have ample time outside the habitat each day. The more space you can dedicate to your pet’s daily adventures, the better. Just make sure to pet-proof any area where your pet might explore. 

Quick Tip: All Enriched Life Play Centers are customizable with replaceable natural toys. Change out these toys regularly to present your pet with new and interesting challenges each day!


Three Quick and Easy Steps for Providing an Enriched Life for Your Pet:

  1. Support their instinctual behaviors in fun and challenging ways. Outfit habitat and play areas with natural chews, toys and hideouts. Rotate these items regularly to keep pets engaged with their surroundings.
  2. Build a loving bond with enriching play every day. Your pet is social by nature and loves interacting with you. Set aside time every day for active, enriching play incorporating their favorite toys and games.
  3. Keep it safe and natural. Choose enrichment items made from pet-safe materials such as woven hay, untreated wood, natural fibers (e.g. sisal), apple sticks, and vegetable-based dyes. 

Benefits of Exploring Include:

 

  • Offers mental stimulation throughout the day
  • Promotes physical activity that helps prevent obesity 
  • Prevents boredom-based behaviors 
  • Helps build your bond with your pet 

Unique Features of Enriched Life Natural Chews and Play Centers: 

  • Innovatively designed to meet exploring instincts of small pets
  • Designed to encourage mental and physical enrichment
  • Wide assortment provides fun and stimulating play
  • Play Centers are customizable with replaceable toys
  • Safe, natural materials include hay, untreated wood, natural fibers, and vegetable inks
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July 22, 2019

How to Keep Your Pet From Being Bored

How to Keep Your Pet From Being Bored

By Dr. Cayla Iske, PhD and Dianne Cook, LVT

In a wild setting, animals have a seemingly endless array of opportunities to express complex natural behaviors. These behaviors can be triggered by a huge diversity of objects and events in their environment that necessitate or stimulate the animal to respond. Domesticated animals are often protected from the negative and threatening aspects of a wild environment, such as predation, but this also limits opportunities to express some positive, natural behaviors. In a significantly more protected and controlled environment, if environmental complexity is not provided, animals can become bored. Think about the last time you attended a meeting that lacked excitement or engagement. Did your knee start to bounce? Did you find yourself chewing your nails? Were you annoyed by the person next to you mindlessly clicking their pen? These behaviors may have stemmed from boredom, and you may have been expressing these behaviors without realizing it. If you apply this concept to your fur baby, the idea of boredom-based behaviors becomes a little clearer.

Boredom Behaviors

As the complexity of an animal’s enclosure increases, the number of activities and behaviors an animal can perform also increases, and vice versa. In a relatively barren enclosure, an animal is limited to behaviors it can perform alone (laying, standing, grooming, locomoting, etc.) and those interacting with its cage (chewing, scratching, etc.). When an animal gets bored or frustrated with their environment, it can manifest in the form of abnormal, repetitive, or stereotypic (activities performed repetitively and unvaryingly with no obvious goal or function) behaviors. These behaviors are essentially performed to occupy an animal’s time in an unstimulating environment. In certain situations, these behaviors may also be performed out of frustration or in an attempt to accomplish a biologically inherent activity that is not allowed by the animal’s environment, such as foraging or dust bathing. Abnormal behaviors may also indicate an animal’s inability to adapt or adjust to its environment (Garner, 2005).

Reducing Boredom

These undesirable behaviors can be combated through enrichment which increases complexity, provides the animal added control over their environment, and allows for a more diverse array of behaviors. There are five categories of enrichment that have been well defined (Young, 2003):

  • Social: contact or non-contact interaction with another living being.
  • Occupational: exercising of the mind or body (such as puzzles or mechanical devices).
  • Physical: enclosure enrichment (size, complexity) with items such as toys or furniture.
  • Sensory: visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, taste.
  • Nutritional: novelty or variation in delivery or type of food.

All five types of enrichment, when implemented, are aimed at improving animal welfare. While social enrichment can happen inherently through interactions with you or other animals in the home, a conscious and planned effort to implement occupational, physical, and nutritional enrichment should be taken, by incorporation of sensory enrichment. For years, Oxbow has recommended nutritional enrichment through offering of various types of hay and diversity of greens/veggie offerings. Nutritional enrichment can also come in the form of varying the way in which foods are delivered. Techniques such as scattering and hiding food, or providing an obstacle or puzzle fChor an animal to access food, are great examples of nutritional enrichment. Physical and occupational enrichment often go hand in hand and can be achieved by providing new items in your pet’s habitat to simulate new, appropriate behaviors.

Not One Size Fits All

It is an important point that any kind of enrichment should be biologically relevant to the intended species. Some have even adapted their definition to focus on the animal rather than the environment, with a definition of enrichment as, “an improvement in the biological functioning of captive animals resulting from modifications to their environment.” (Newberry, 1995). With this definition, it is clear the intention of enrichment should be to stimulate natural, species specific behaviors not simply because a preferred object evokes inherent behaviors (Sambrook and Buchanan-Smith, 1997), but because performing these natural behaviors may play a larger role in your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. Indeed, enrichment can have greater effects than just making your little one more active or providing a cute photo opportunity; while much more research is needed to fully understand its effects, enrichment can influence everything from animal behavior to brain physiology and anatomy (Baumans, 2005).

The Spice of Life!

Through research, we’ve seen that providing enrichment items to rabbits promoted natural behaviors of chewing and playing and reduced abnormal behaviors (Poggiagliolmi, et al., 2011). However, enrichment is not a one stop shop. Research has also shown that access to the same enrichment devices resulted in decreased interest by more than 50% after 5 weeks of exposure (Johnson, et al. 2003). This reduced interest over time indicates the need for steady rotation of different enrichment items. Providing a variety of enrichment items that vary in appearance and/or function is recommended in order to promote a wider and more diverse set of natural behaviors in your pet. Though all of the benefits of enrichment are not yet fully understood, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is a key component to a happy and healthy fur child.

References

  • Baumans, V. 2005. Environmental enrichment for laboratory rodents and rabbits: requirements of rodents, rabbits, and research. ILAR Journal 46.2: 162-170.
  • Garner, J.P. 2005. Stereotypies and other abnormal repetitive behaviors: potential impact on validity, reliability, and replicability of scientific outcomes. ILAR Journal 46.2 (2005): 106-117.
  • Johnson, C.A., et al. 2003. The effect of an environmental enrichment device on individually caged rabbits in a safety assessment facility." Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science 42.5: 27-30.
  • Newberry, R.C. 1995. Environmental enrichment: increasing the biological relevance of captive environments. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 44.2-4: 229-243.
  • Poggiagliolmi, S., Crowell-Davis, S.L., Alworth, L.C., Harvey. S.B. 2011. Environmental enrichment of New Zealand White rabbits living in laboratory cages. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 6.6: 343-350.
  • Sambrook, T.D., Buchanan-Smith, H.M. 1997. Control and complexity in novel object enrichment." Animal Welfare 6.3: 207-216.
  • Young, R.J. 2003. Environmental enrichment for captive animals. John Wiley & Sons.
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July 15, 2019

Tips for Traveling with Pets

Tips for Traveling with Pets

Travel can stress anyone out, but it can especially take a toll on small animals. Here are some tips that can help ensure safe and comfortable travel for your pet.

Find an Appropriate Kennel or Pet Carrier Before You Need It

Don’t be caught off guard and not have a carrier when you need one, especially if there’s an emergency. Look for carriers that will give your pet enough space to rest comfortably. Airline Approved carriers can help protect your pet during transport, as the wireframes sewn into some otherwise soft-shell exteriors help maintain the carrier’s shape. Two other important factors to consider when purchasing a carrier include a structure that has ample air flow, as well as a structure that allows for feeding and watering during travel.

Get Your Pet Acquainted with Their Carrier Ahead of Time

Allowing your pet to explore their carrier on their own time can help them learn that it’s a safe place to rest. Always make sure to do trial runs with your pet in their carrier before actually traveling. This will help ensure that your pet can handle travel.

Include Hay in Your Pet's Carrier

Small herbivores need hay available to them at all times—make sure hay is accessible to your pet during transport. Other small animals can benefit from hay in their carriers, too, as hay can be provided as safe and comforting nesting material.

Bring Your Pet's Water Bottle Along 

Provide water to them as needed.

Factor in the Element

If it’s wintertime, include extra nesting material in your pet’s carrier; if it’s hot outside, place some form of cold relief such as a frozen water bottle in one corner of the carrier (just make sure it doesn’t roll around!).

Provide Skid-Resistant Flooring

Add a non-skid material to the floor of the carrier. This material should be something that your pet is familiar with and won’t chew on, such as a blanket that smells like them. This will help prevent your pet from sliding around during transport.

Travel with a (Human) Friend

It can be helpful to travel with a friend or family member, especially if you’re driving to your destination. This will give you the opportunity to monitor your pet while your friend or family member focuses on the road.

Think of Your Pet's Needs Ahead of Time

Your pet will have far different needs for a veterinarian visit compared to staying with a pet sitter for a week. List all your pet’s needs ahead of time so nothing is forgotten during packing. If you’re going on a long trip with your pet, think about rest stops and hotels for the night. Are the stops you have planned suitable for your pet?

Consider Your Pet as an Individual

Every pet is unique and will react to traveling differently! Some pets won’t mind traveling at all, while other pets can be very anxious and will need lots of reassurance. If your pet is especially anxious or has special needs, carefully consider the amount of travel they can safely handle.

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July 12, 2019

Oxbow Animal Health Expands Sales Team

Oxbow Animal Health, a global leader in small animal nutrition, has added two new positions to its sales team: Lisa Eurek as E-commerce National Account Manager and Melissa Osborne as Regional Account Manager.

As E-commerce National Account Manager, Eurek’s responsibilities include devising long-term vision and strategies for product lines and categories, analyzing market data, developing solutions to address customers’ needs, and developing product positioning strategies. Eurek brings over 19 years of experience in the digital marketing space, including 17 years with Buckle in Kearney, NE where she led teams in content strategy, customer experience, and taxonomy. Eurek comes to Oxbow from Hayneedle where her efforts were focused on the development of taxonomy, merchandising strategy and promotional execution for Hayneedle.com.

“I am excited to join Oxbow’s team to take on the challenge of not only a new industry, but also to get the opportunity to be on the wholesale side of retail and apply my knowledge to drive Oxbow’s business in the digital space,” said Eurek.

As Regional Account Manager, Osborne serves as the main contact for retailers, distributors reps, and key partners in the western territory. Osborne brings industry experience with companies including Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Bayer Animal Health, as well as retail experience from her time as owner of an independent pet store. As pet parents to bunnies, guinea pigs, and a rat, Melissa and her family have an existing familiarity with the Oxbow brand.

“I am passionate about building and solidifying the human animal bond,” said Osborne. “There is so much joy in a relationship with an animal. To have the ability to provide quality nutrition and products that extend and enhance those animals lives - there is nothing more gratifying.”

“Lisa and Melissa bring a wealth of experience, expertise, and passion to the Oxbow Sales Team,” said Jeremy Baker, Vice President of Business Development. “Their contributions will be invaluable as we continue to grow and evolve in the name of small animal health.”

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July 01, 2019

Ways to Keep Your Pet Calm During Fireworks

Ways to Keep Your Pet Calm During Fireworks

Happy 4th of July! While fireworks, sparklers, and the holiday hoop-la may be a blast for we humans, our furry friends can be less than thrilled at the sounds and noises associated with our festivities. How can you keep your pet calm during the fireworks this evening? Take these simple steps to provide the extra nurturing that your pet may need tonight.

Draw the Curtains

Blocking light can decrease the amount of firework flashes your pet sees.

Turn on the TV

A radio or TV show can help dampen the noise of some fireworks.

Provide Plenty of Hiding Spots

Your Pet will want to hide when they feel unsafe, so they should have a least one hiding space.

Plan Snacks

Leaving your pet's favorite snack near their hiding place could give them a short distraction.

Talk to Your Pet

Your pet is likely to find your voice soothing, so talking to them might comfort them.

Talk to Your Neighbors

If you have understanding neighbors, they might be willing to reduce the amount of larger fireworks they use.

Stay Home

Not that excited about your plans? Your pet values your presence and might benefit from you staying home.

Stick to Sparklers

If you're hosting this year, choose fireworks that don't make as much noise. Your pet (and other animals in the neighborhood) will thank you!

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