Congratulations to our Pet of the Month, Garou! This sweet little chinchilla is a year old and loves Oxbow hay and chinchilla food. Thanks for being a fan, Garou!
Would you like your pet to be considered for Pet of the Week? Follow Oxbow on Instagram or Facebook and follow the instructions on our Pet of the Week posts to submit your photos! We select our Pets of the Month from our Pets of the Week submissions.
RHDV2 - New Updates and Information for Pet Parents - 5/18/20
Developments around Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHDV2) continue to occur daily. In this video, Dr. Kohles provides the latest information regarding outbreaks and recommendations for pet parents to keep their rabbits safe.
Oxbow Animal Health is excited to announce the recipients of its 2020 Academic Scholarships. The Oxbow Academic Scholarships award annual financial support to students across the country pursuing education in the exotic and companion animal veterinary fields. Oxbow scholarship winners are chosen for interest and involvement in the field of exotic animal health, excellence in the areas of academic achievement, and expression of future career goals and interests.
This year’s scholarship winners are:
Makenna Parks - University of Missouri, Columbia (Columbia, MO) Nebraska High School Scholarship
Tucker Randall - University of Nebraska - Lincoln (Lincoln, NE) Undergraduate Academic Scholarship
Victoria L. DeMeo, LVT, (R) ALAT - University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) Veterinary Technology Academic Scholarship
Bailey James - University of Cincinnati - Blue Ash Regional Campus (Cincinnati, OH) Veterinary Technology Academic Scholarship
Ivana Levy - University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine (Urbana, IL)
Veterinary Medicine Academic Scholarship
“At Oxbow, we are passionate about supporting tomorrow’s leaders in exotic animal health,” said Melissa Ross, Vice President of Marketing. “We are so proud to support the 2020 Oxbow Academic Scholarship recipients as they pursue their professional dreams of advancing the health, nutrition, and care of companion animals.”
Veterinary Medicine Academic Scholarship - Ivana Levy
“As a future zoological companion animal veterinarian, I am honored to be the recipient of the 2020 Oxbow Animal Health Veterinary Medicine Scholarship,” said Levy. “Veterinary medicine, especially exotic animal medicine, is constantly changing. I am excited to keep learning and contribute primary research to this field as a student and future veterinarian, which is something this scholarship can help me achieve. I aim to provide the highest standard of care for my patients and I know Oxbow strives to do the same. I am thrilled to be the recipient of this award and look forward to working with Oxbow in the future.”
“As a student who is planning and hoping to go onto vet school, it is very overwhelming to look at the cost of tuition and all the things that add up along the way,” said Randall. “This scholarship will help me in pursuing my dream. I have a true passion for wanting to help animals and I strive to do anything I put my mind to. Being able to be recognized for my hard work truly is one of the best feelings.”
Nebraska High School Scholarship - Makenna Parks
“I am so grateful to receive this scholarship! I look forward to exploring the world of Animal Science through my time at the University of Missouri-Columbia,” said Parks. “Through this scholarship, I will be able to further my knowledge in the field!
Veterinary Technology Scholarship - Victoria L. DeMeo, LVT, (R) ALAT
“I am thrilled to find support through Oxbow’s scholarship program to continue my veterinary forensics studies with University of Florida,” said DeMeo. “I hope that I can continue to advocate for exotic pets and wildlife while working for NYC’s animal control entity and hope to one day expand this focus to the international animal trade. I believe that Oxbow is fostering the human-animal bond one student at a time.”
Creating Foraging Opportunities for Your Small Pet
Foraging is one of many instinctual behaviors commonly exhibited by small companion mammals. Pet parents should do their due diligence in providing fun, nutritionally-appropriate foraging opportunities for their small pet! Here are some of our suggestions.
For many pet parents, this is one of the easiest go-to forms of enrichment to promote foraging.
Mix It Up— We can't say it enough—variety is the spice of life! Providing more than one variety of hay can create the perfect forage opportunity for your little one, while also promoting the fiber intake that is essential to the diet of a small herbivore. Providing grain hays, such as oat hay, provides a forage to search for tasty immature seed heads. Visit our Fun Ways to Feed a Variety of Hays blog post for some examples of delicious hay mixes.
Treat in the Haystack— Hiding your pet's favorite treat in hay can create an enticing rooting and digging game. Break or cut the treat into small pieces, and hide the pieces throughout a pile of hay. Hiding multiple pieces can help lengthen the entertainment time for this foraging activity, meaning more fun for your pet!
Foraging for Treats
While treats should be a tiny amount of your pet’s daily food intake, they can provide limitless opportunities for enrichment!
Treat in a Blanket— Find a clean fleece blanket and hide your pet's favorite treat within the folds of the blanket. Your pet will have tons of fun rooting around to look for their snack! You may have to visually show the treat to your pet before trying this out. Once they catch the scent of a hay-based treat like our Simple Rewards, or a fruit or veggie slice, it’s game on. For ideas on appropriate greens and veggies, visit our blogs about Best Vegetables and Leafy Greens for Rabbits and for Guinea Pigs.
Pick the Cup— Either three plastic cups or small Tupperware containers without lids will be needed for this activity. Show your pet their favorite treat, then hide it underneath one of the three cups flipped upside-down. Keeping the treat hidden, shuffle the cups and let your pet use their nose to discover which cup the treat is under!
Foraging for Fortified Food
Fortified food is an essential part of your pet's daily diet, but that doesn't mean you need to present your pet's food the same way every day! Encouraging your pet to forage for fortified food can help ensure that your pet's mind stays active and senses stay sharp.
Sprinkle It!— If your pet can’t seem to get enough of their fortified food, you can present their daily pellets by sprinkling them throughout their habitat or in their hay. This will make your pet use their stellar sense of smell to find tasty food, while also not overdoing it on calories through treat-based enrichment.
One at a Time— When you have time to sit with your pet, hide your pet's fortified food one piece at a time in easy-to-find locations (such as under a toy or an unfolded blanket in front of them). Wait for your pet to find the piece before offering more in the same location. Some pets may need help finding the food at first, but will usually catch on to this game quickly. Once your pet has learned the hiding spot, change it up by using a different object or material to hide the fortified food under. Not only will this activity involve a repetitive action that can help your pet prepare to learn simple tricks, but it significantly increases the time you spend with your pet, strengthening the human-animal bond.
Foraging with Enrichment
To add another level of foraging fun in your pet's life, consider how enrichment items like natural chews and hides can play a role. For some straightforward enrichment that promotes foraging, take a look at our Forage Pot and our Hide and Seek Mats.
New Digs— Many small animal pet parents know that our little guys can be wary of new items in their habitats, and new hiding places are no exception. If you have purchased a new hide and your pet is unsure of it, utilizing your pet's foraging behavior can be a great way to get them accustomed to the new hide. After placing the new hide in your pet's enclosure, add a few pieces of your pet's fortified food or broken-up favorite treat into the hide—one close to the entrance, one towards the center of the hide, and one as far back into the hide as possible. Cover the treats with a light sprinkling of your pet's favorite hay. Your pet may still be wary at first, but they will search for the treat pieces and follow the trail into the hide, allowing them to realize that the hide is comfortable and safe. If your pet grabs the treat and runs out of the hide, don't get discouraged! Your little one is simply shy and may require some extra encouragement when exposed to new things. Repeat this activity daily until your pet decides to get cozy in their new hide on their own.
Hay Feeders Galore— There are so many kinds of hay feeders to choose from! If your pet has had only one type of hay feeder, it might be time to invest in a new one. Not only does a new feeder mean something that's visually new and interesting is in your pet’s living space, but it also means that how your pet forages for the yummiest hay strand will also change. For some ideas, check out our Hay Forager or our Apple Stick Hay Feeder.
Get Creative, But Keep it Safe!
Opportunities abound for pet parents to nurture foraging behaviors but always keep safety in mind. Don't force your pet to search for treats in areas where their heads or legs could become entrapped. If your pet is showing signs of physical or emotional discomfort during an activity, such as turning away from you or making whining sounds, end activities immediately and calmly praise them for expressing their needs without exhibiting destructive behaviors such as biting.
We’ve outlined many great techniques to provide new foraging opportunities, but as prey animals too much change can quickly become overwhelming. Only make one or two changes to your pets’ habitat or feeding technique at a time to avoid stress and anxiety. As they get more familiar with change it will be easier to introduce new things!
COVID-19 and Pets: Updated Information and Recommendations
As our understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve daily, we would like to take the opportunity to share some additional information with the small pet community regarding this disease and the potential impacts to our domestic pet species. Additionally, the CDC has come out with some new guidelines and recommendations around taking measures to prevent the potential of pet parents and their animals from being exposed.
Positive cases in domestic pet species in the United States
As you may have heard, there have been a few positive cases around domestic pet species recently confirmed here in the United States. The first known positive case was associated with a large cat at a zoo in New York City. This was followed with positive cases from at least two domestic cats and, most recently, a case in North Carolina affecting a dog living in a household with humans who had tested positive.
Have additional pet species been confirmed positive for COVID-19?
To date, there have been no known additional positive cases affecting additional domestic small animal species. There is also no information that indicates that pets play a vital role in the transmission of the virus. Additionally, it does not appear that the overall risk to pet populations is high. With that being said, we know we have a lot of information to continue to gather and it’s important to note that there does appear to be some correlation to the potential that positive humans can infect their pets with the disease.
Updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
The CDC has recently provided some updated guidelines regarding the potential risks to pets associated with COVID-19. These guidelines are specifically designed to protect not only pet parents, but your pets as well. The basis for the following guidelines comes from the CDC. We encourage all pet parents to stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines here.
What should I do if I own a pet?
First and foremost, be aware that we still have a lot to learn about this disease. Until we learn more specifically about how this virus affects animals, it is strongly recommended that you treat your pets no differently than you would treat other members of your household.
Avoid any contact with pets or humans outside of your household.
Keep your pets indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people. While many of us take our pets outside routinely for their wellbeing, make sure this activity is supervised at all times to avoid the potential for incidental contact with other pets or human beings.
Avoid large gatherings involving both pets and people.
If you have any concerns about clinical signs or behaviors your pets are exhibiting, please contact your veterinarian.
What should I do if I have tested positive for COVID-19 or am experiencing symptoms?
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either because you have exhibited potential clinical signs, or because you have a positive test), until we know more about this virus and how it affects pets, it is strongly recommended by the CDC and other organizations that we take the same precautions that we would with the other human members of our household. These precautions include:
Avoid any direct contact with your pets if at all possible, opting to have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick. This also unfortunately means no petting or other direct interaction.
If you are the only member of your household capable of providing care for your pet, take additional precautions. Wear a face mask at all times when interacting with your pet and wash your hands before and after.
If you take these important precautions, the overall risk to your pets should remain low.
What should I do if I suspect my pet is sick?
If you have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 (or are experiencing symptoms) and your pet exhibits clinical signs that make you worried or concerned, do not take your pet to see your veterinarian. Instead, first contact your veterinarian to discuss symptoms and concerns. Your veterinarian will be able to work with you, either utilizing telemedicine or other tools, to evaluate different diagnostics as well as different therapies or treatments that may be indicated to provide for your pet’s care and wellbeing.