August, 2019

August 21, 2019

All About Hiding

All About Hiding

Have you ever noticed your small pet looking for a place to hide during the day? Don’t be offended! Your pet is simply acting on a very basic and important survival instinct. In the wild, rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas are prey animals and finding places to hide is essential to survival. Even in the safe confines of your home, it’s essential to provide places for your pet to hide away from environmental stressors.

Offer multiple “getaways” for your pet

Your pet will appreciate options and when it comes time to rest and relax. Oxbow Enriched Life habitats come with a handy, built-in hide space where pets love spending time. For an additional option, include a Timothy CLUB Bungalow in your pet’s habitat or play area.

Encourage your pet to interact in these places

Your pet will interact instinctively with the hide spaces in their habitat, but you can show your support by outfitting these spaces to maximize comfort and enrichment. Fill your pet’s hide spaces with hay and natural chews to encourage them to interact in these places throughout the day.

Respect your pet’s desire for alone time

We all want to interact with our pets as much as possible, but it’s important to respect their instinctual behavior to hide. Avoid the temptation to disrupt your pet when they are hiding. This can lead to stress and anxiety and have a negative effect on your bond with your pet.

Need a quick hideaway? Just add hay!

Even with multiple hiding options, your pet will sometimes prefer to simply burrow in plain sight. To support this behavior, include ample amounts of loose hay in your pet’s habitat and enjoy watching them dig and burrow!

Make sure to accommodate everybody

If your’s is a multiple pet household, be sure to have hiding spaces available for all of your animals. While they might snuggle up at certain times, there will be times when pets want to hide alone.

Quick Tip:

Fill your pet’s hide spaces with large amounts of hay, their favorite chew toys, and even a few hidden, healthy treats. Your pet will love munching on these various items while hiding away.

Timothy CLUB Bungalow: The Amazing, Edible Hideout Every Pet Should Have

The Timothy CLUB Bungalow makes the perfect addition to every small pet’s habitat. In addition to providing more choices when it comes to rest and relaxation, every Timothy CLUB is hand-woven from premium Timothy hay. Rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small animals love nibbling away on this 100% edible bungalow as they escape any environmental stressors they might otherwise experience.

Unique Features of Enriched Life Habitats

  • Innovative, behavior-based designs
  • Built-in hide space, platform, and ramp for rabbits and guinea pigs
  • Built-in wheel and tunnel for hamsters
  • Easy to take apart for quick cleaning
  • Crystal clear water bottle and food bowl included
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August 20, 2019

Dust Til Dawn: Chinchillas and Their Dust Baths

Dust Til Dawn: Chinchillas and Their Dust Baths

Written by Dianne Cook, LVT

Chinchillas are one of the most intriguing (not to mention adorable) exotic companion mammals we have ever brought into our homes. With thick, ultra-plush fur, a squirrel-like tail, and big, soulful eyes, it’s nearly impossible to not become completely enamored with these docile little creatures. Adding a chinchilla (or better yet, two) to your furry family is certain to bring years of entertaining companionship, but there are a few unique facets to their care necessary to keep them healthy. One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of chinchilla pet parenthood is a chinchilla’s need for regular access to dust baths.

Chinchillas maintain their enviable, luscious locks thanks to sheer density. They boast an average of 60-70 hairs sprouting from each follicle, awarding them the title of densest fur of any land mammal. In comparison, the majority of mammals, including humans, only produce one hair per follicle! As you can imagine, that thick, luxurious coat serves multiple key functions but does not dry easily. As a result, is best to try to avoid getting chinchillas wet, as moisture can get trapped close to the skin which can lead to multiple types of skin disease, including pyoderma (infection of the skin) and dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). In lieu of soap and water, chinchillas “bathe” in fine dust which helps evenly distribute natural oils, clears away dirt and debris, and keeps their fur silky soft.

In their native, arid habitats in the mountainous regions of South America, chinchillas use volcanic ash to keep clean. Though most chinchilla parents do not live in an area which provides natural access to this specialized type of ash, pre-packaged products are available. Just like nutrition, however, it is important to select a product that is not only appropriate for your chinchilla’s needs, but is also high-quality. It is essential to find a product that is 100% volcanic ash and has been sourced and produced without the use of chemicals. There are many chinchilla dust products of varying quality on the market. Some have a coarser consistency, similar to sand, but it is important to choose a quality product with finer, silky particles. Sand is not nearly as effective at absorbing the natural oils chinchillas produce, and the grains can get trapped at the base of their hair, potentially causing skin irritation and/or infections. Due to this, it is important to only utilize high-quality volcanic chinchilla dust, and never use sand or dust-like products packaged for other exotic companion animals, regardless of how similar they appear.

Chinchillas are active and agile creatures by nature, and when provided a dust bath, they instinctually flip, roll, and shimmy, kicking up generous plumes as they work the dust from hair tip to root. They are so efficient in their dusty dance, in fact, that one inch of dust in the bottom of an appropriate dust bath enclosure is all that is needed to ensure complete coverage. Many pet parents use bowls or litter pans for their little ones’ dust baths, while others opt for enclosed plastic or wooden bathhouses to help keep the dust somewhat contained. When choosing a dust bath container, the most important aspects are ensuring it is both stable and a little larger than the chinchilla itself so there is ample room for their dust-wielding acrobatics.

Over-bathing can cause chinchillas’ skin, feet, and ears to dry out, so it is important to limit bath-time to 2 – 4 times a week based on each individual chinchillas’ needs. In very hot, humid weather or climates, chinchillas often need access to their dust baths closer to 4 times per week. In cold weather or otherwise dry environments, they may only need to bathe twice a week. It is also important to control the duration during which your chinchilla has access to their bath. Typically, 3 – 5 minutes at a time is sufficient. If a dust bath is left within a chinchilla’s enclosure for too long, it is often mistaken for a litter box, so it is best to remove the dust container as soon as your fur baby is done bathing. It is perfectly acceptable to reuse dust for multiple baths, but it should be discarded as soon as it starts to clump or if it becomes soiled.

Beyond the hygienic reasons discussed above, dust baths also offer a great source of mental and physical enrichment for our fun little friends and provide a great way for pet parents to strengthen that ever-important animal-human bond. It is also important to remember that each pet is unique, and should your chinchilla ever develop a skin or coat concern, it is always best to consult a trusted veterinarian. Happy bathing and let the dust fly!

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August 16, 2019

Help Us Give Back To Rescues! - “Nurture Their Nature” Donation Campaign

Help Us Give Back To Rescues! - “Nurture Their Nature” Donation Campaign

We're Giving Up To $5,000 To Rescues In Need!

Our pets depend on us each day for the nutrition and care they need for health and happiness.  And we know that rescues everywhere work tirelessly to provide for small pets in need.  That's why we're so excited to announce our "Nurture Their Nature" campaign - a new donation campaign benefitting small animal rescues.  Through Nuture Their Nature, a portion of the proceeds from every Enriched Life item purchased from August 1 - September 30, 2019 will be donated to small animal rescues in need.  Up to $5,000 will be donated amongst the winning organizations.  

We Need Your Help!

Do you know of a rescue that is deserving of some extra support?  Nominations for support through Nurture Their Nature are open to the public and can be made between now and August 26th at oxbowanimalhealth.com/nurture-their-nature.  Finalists will be chosen by an Oxbow panel and voted on by the public online between September 9-23.  

Show Your Support In The Store!

A portion of every Enriched Life purchase you make between now and September 30th will go toward the campaign.  That means it's the perfect time to start providing daily enrichment for your pets!

“At Oxbow, we know that the health and happiness of small animals depends on the right nutrition and daily opportunities for enrichment each day,” said Melissa Ross, Vice President of Marketing and Innovation at Oxbow.   “Through our Nurture Their Nature campaign, we look forward to providing financial support to deserving rescues so that they might provide enrichment for animals as they wait their forever homes.  We applaud the work of rescues everywhere and are humbled to be able to support the great work they do.”

Features of Enriched Life Include:  

  • Innovative designs that support natural behaviors
  • Safe, natural materials such as hay, untreated wood, natural fibers, and vegetable dyes
  • Customizable play centers with replaceable toys to prevent boredom 
  • A wise assortment of chews to encourage mental and physical enrichment 

For campaign details, visit: www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/nurture-their-nature.   

To learn more about Enriched Life, visit enrich.pet

Resources on Enrichment: 

All About Exploring

All About Chewing

Chewing Behaviors Video

The Importance of Natural Chew Variety Video

 



 

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August 13, 2019

Healthy Treats and Foods for Hamsters and Gerbils

Healthy Treats and Foods for Hamsters and Gerbils
by Dr. Cayla Iske and Dianne Cook, LVT

Hamsters and gerbils are fun and entertaining companions, but they come with unique nutritional requirements. Proper nutrition is one of the most important decisions a pet parent can make to set their pet up for a long, high-quality life. The foundation of their nutrition should be a well-balanced and biologically appropriate diet. The best approach to meeting their caloric and nutrient needs starts with ~75% of their diet being supplied through a uniform complete fortified food. This uniform presentation prevents selective eating and ensures that they receive a balanced intake of both macronutrients (protein, fat, fiber, etc.) and micronutrients (calcium, iron, vitamins, etc.) The remaining ~25% of their diet, however, is a great way to not only introduce variety and nutritional enrichment but provide supplementation based on your individual pet’s needs.

Other Foods for Hamsters and Gerbils

When creating a well-rounded diet for your fur baby, it is important to consider species-appropriate food items. If we consider their digestive physiology, both hamsters and gerbils are omnivores by definition. Given their natural, plant-based environment, however, wild hamsters and gerbils do tend to be predominately herbivorous as those are the food items most available to them. When considering what additional diversity of foods to offer beyond their uniform diet, it is important to keep in mind their nutritional needs and common natural food items. Therefore, greens and veggies should be a predominant proportion of supplementary foods along with a variety of grains, proteins, fats, and fruits. Insects, such as mealworms, can provide great nutritional benefit and enrichment when fed infrequency as a treat as well. It is best to offer new and novel supplemental foods in very small amounts initially, no larger the size of a pea, to avoid digestive issues. Some great options for each of these categories are listed here:

As a starting point, a total of 1.5 to 4.5 tsp of veggies, greens, fruits, seeds, and/or proteins should be offered per day based on the size of your companion. It is important to also note that these are just suggestions and an exact feeding regimen will vary by individual and their needs. We recommend you consult your veterinarian about the best feeding schedule for your pet’s specific needs.

Prepackaged Treats

You can choose from a wide array of prepackaged treats on the market labeled for hamsters, gerbils, and other small animals. Everything from yogurt drops to seed sticks to hay-based treats; which all bring different nutritional impacts, some good and some not so good, to your animal. While you may think of yogurt as healthy and providing nutritional benefits in your diet, for your pet yogurt drops may bring some fat and protein but unfortunately, also contain a high amount of unnecessary sugar. Your pet may love these yogurt drops (because who wouldn’t love a tasty bolus of sugar) but fed too often they could contribute to obesity and other gastrointestinal issues. Seed sticks offer a more complete nutritional profile with some variety, but they often also contain sugary products to bind them together. Additionally, while small amounts of seeds are a natural part of these animals’ diet, seed sticks allow for the selection of seeds and binders which leads to consumption of the most calorically dense and sweetest portions. Uniform treats that align more closely to these species natural nutritional needs are a great way to prevent selective eating and ensure balanced nutritional intake. Oxbow offers treats in several different flavors and physical presentations that you may choose to add to your little friends’ diet to add flavor, texture, and nutritional variety. Furthermore, adding a diversity of nutrients, and especially different fibers, to hamster and gerbil diets can support proper gut health (Grant, 2014).

Variety

There is a common and important theme when discussing diets in a range of small exotic companion mammals, such as hamsters and gerbils. That theme is the nutritional benefit as well as physical and mental enrichment of variety. Knowing what you can feed allows pet parents to construct a personalized menu for their pets to keep things stimulating as well as nutritionally beneficial. Through this variety you are providing dietary enrichment, offering a diverse nutrient profile, and finding fun ways to interact and connect with your little guys and gals. Hamsters and gerbils are natural prey species that may be leery of new foods, so be gradual in your introduction of new items but don’t forget that providing variety in their diet can help them adapt and keep mealtime interesting.

References

Grant, K. 2014. Rodent nutrition: digestive comparisons of 4 common rodent species. Vet Clin North American Exotic Animal Practice. 17.3: 471-83.

Learn More About Hamster and Gerbil Care

What is the best food that I can feed my hamster or gerbil?

Hamster & Gerbil Care Guide

What signs should I watch for that indicate that my hamster or gerbil needs to see a vet?

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August 02, 2019

How to Support Your Pet’s Exploring Instincts

How to Support Your Pet’s Exploring Instincts

Small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and others have a natural instinct to explore their surroundings.  You can encourage this instinct in your pets by providing safe and enriching accessories, as well as by making simple modifications to “change up” the habitat.  Learn more as Dr. Micah Kohles of Oxbow Animal Health provides helpful tips on how to support the healthy exploring behaviors of your pet!

Other Great Enrichment Resources: 

All About Exploring Article 
All About Chewing Article 
All About Chewing Video 

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August 02, 2019

Oxbow Animal Health Introduces Sara Innes as Innovation Manager

Oxbow Animal Health Introduces Sara Innes as Innovation Manager

Oxbow Animal Health, a global leader in small animal nutrition, has announced the hiring of Sara Innes as Innovation Manager.  In her role, Innes will lead product development activities from ideation to launch, interfacing cross-functionally with key individuals and teams to ensure all new products deliver the desired brand attributes while meeting quality standards, regulatory requirements, cost targets, and delivery timelines. 

Innes comes to Oxbow from Conagra where she served as Innovation Research Manager, spending the last several years overseeing the company’s innovation and marketing research facility.  In her position, Innes managed a team in charge of consumer insights projects including new product evaluations, competitive assessments, product ideation and other research based projects for the Marketing and R&D departments.

“I am excited to join a company with such a rich history of innovation, as well as an ongoing commitment to developing products that promote healthy, happy lives for small animals,” said Innes.  “I look forward to working alongside my team to help develop “what’s next” for Oxbow.”   

“Sara brings considerable innovation and market research experience to Oxbow,” said Melissa Ross, Oxbow’s Vice President of Marketing and Innovation.  “She joins our team during an exciting time of innovation and has hit the ground running in helping bring innovative new products to the market.  We are extremely excited to have Sara on the Oxbow team.”    

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