October, 2020

October 12, 2020

DIY Agility Jumps

DIY Agility Jumps

Ready for a super fun and enriching DIY project that will get your rabbit, guinea pig, or other small pet moving? With some simple, easy to find materials, you can create these fun and enriching DIY Agility Jumps!  

Materials

  • 1 Enriched Life Apple Stick Bundle
  • 8 toilet paper tubes (or 4 paper towel roll tubes cut in half)
  • Scissors
  • Your pet’s favorite hay (Hay Blends-Timothy and Orchard is used in this video)

Instructions

  1. Using scissors, carefully create a small puncture in one of the cardboard tubes.
  2. Estimate the placement of a second puncture in the cardboard tube. It should be straight across from the first puncture on the other side of the tube.
  3. Create the second puncture.
  4. On a second cardboard tube, repeat steps 1-3. The punctures on this tube should be placed at the same height as the first tube.
  5. Remove a twig from your Enriched Life Apple Stick Bundle.
  6. On each end of the twig, attach the tubes using the punctures you created. This should result in a single-bar agility jump.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 with two more sets of cardboard tubes, creating different heights. At the end of this step you should have a one high, one medium, and one low agility jump for a total of 3 jumps.
  8. Using your final set of cardboard tubes, create two punctures per cardboard tube. Each puncture should be on the inside wall of the jump and line up with each other.
  9. Add a twig to one set of punctures so the stick is sitting at an angle, rather than straight across.
  10. Looking at the twig, mentally mark where the end of the apple stick hits the outside of the cardboard tube. After removing the twig from the tube, make a puncture in this spot. Replace the twig so it goes all the way through the cardboard tube’s punctures.
  11. Flip your jump around and repeat step 10, so your first twig is allotted a total of 4 punctures (2 per each cardboard tube).
  12. Remove the twig and repeat steps 9 and 10 so you can add a second diagonal twig to your jump. The end result should be a sturdy cross jump.
  13. Add a small amount of hay to the top of each cardboard tube to add some flair to your jumps!
  14. Using a distraction-free area in your home, set up the lowest jump. Your pet will not understand what the jump is for at first. Using a small handful of pellets or your pet’s favorite treat, lead them slowly over the lowest jump. When they seem to have this down, replace the low jump with the medium jump. Work your way up until they can accomplish the challenging high jump and cross jump. Make sure to not overfeed your pet while training them.
  15. When your pet is ready, set up all the jumps and practice with your pet to become agility course stars!

 

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October 05, 2020

2020 Oxbow Rescue Grants Award More Than $33,000 in Funding and Product Support

2020 Oxbow Rescue Grants Award More Than $33,000 in Funding and Product Support

Oxbow Animal Health has announced the recipients of its 2020 Oxbow Animal Health Rescue Grants. The eleven recipient organizations will receive funding and donations totaling more than $33,000 for a variety of projects and programs that benefit the welfare of small animals throughout the United States. Grant winners are chosen for excellence in the areas of educational outreach, public awareness, and project impact.

The 2020 Oxbow Rescue Grant Recipients are:

  • Florida Wildlife Hospital - Melbourne, FL
  • Binky On! Rabbit Rescue - Hahira, GA
  • Hunter Hollow Bunny Bed and Breakfast - Syracuse, NY
  • Animal Assisted Happiness - Sunnyvale, CA
  • Bunny Lu Adoptions - Waynesboro, VA
  • The Fluffle House - Traverse City, MI
  • Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS) of Waukesha County - Waukesha, WI
  • Fort Wayne Wildlife Center - Fort Wayne, IN
  • Kaitlyn’s Critter Castle - Bluffton, IN
  • Wheek Care Guinea Pig Rescue - New Kensinton, PA
  • Twin Harbors Wildlife Center - Montesano, WA

“Oxbow is honored to support the small animal rescue and wildlife rehabilitation communities through our 2020 Oxbow Rescue Grant Program,” said John Miller, President and Founder of Oxbow Animal Health. “The groups work tirelessly each day on behalf of animals in need and Oxbow is humbled to support their passionate work.”

Binky On! Rabbit Rescue - Hahira, GA
“Binky On! Rabbit Rescue, Inc. is incredibly honored to be chosen as one of the 2020 Oxbow Rescue Grant recipients,” said Jennifer Barfield, Director. “With over 20 new rabbits in from the Savannah Hoarding case, this grant will help cover the immense food costs as well as help with spay and neuter. We humbly accept this award and appreciate Oxbow Animal Health for giving us the opportunity to help save bunnies one binky at a time!”

Fort Wayne Wildlife Center - Fort Wayne, IN
“We’re so thankful for this awesome gift from the Oxbow Rescue Grant,” said Holly Eggelston, Fundraising, Social Media and Marketing Manager at the Fort Wayne Wildlife Center in Fort Wayne, IN. “ We’re so thankful to be able to upgrade our small animals to offer them the 5 star care they deserve! Having larger cages will help us serve as an example of exemplary care these little ones so deserve and having extra money for spays and neuters will help prevent accidental litters!”

Hunter Hollow Bunny Bed and Breakfast - Syracuse, NY
“Hunter Hollow Bunny Bed and Breakfast is thrilled to receive a 2020 Oxbow Rescue Grant,” said Annie-Laurie Hunter, Executive Director at Hunter Hollow. “The bunnies often arrive here from difficult situations and providing quality nutrition is a large part of getting bunnies healthy and ready to find a new home. This grant will help make that possible.”

Twin Harbors Wildlife Center - Montesano, WA
“Twin Harbors Wildlife Center’s team includes 2 wildlife veterinarians that are licensed wildlife rehabilitators, volunteers, partners, Grays Harbor Veterinary Services staff, and the communities we serve, “ said Sonnya Wilkins, Director. “We opened our doors in early 2019 in order to meet the needs of more than 150 species that inhabit the Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties. This grant has created widespread excitement throughout our volunteers. In a year of so much uncertainty and anxiety, this grant has infused us with a renewed sense of purpose and hope that will motivate us to continue with our work. Thank you so much Oxbow!”

Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County (HAWS) - Waukesha, WI
“We are thrilled to be supported by an Oxbow Rescue Grant,” said Lynn Olenik, Executive Director of the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County. “We are expanding, adding a 77 acre farm for the purpose of Humane Education. This grant from Oxbow will allow us to build an area specific to rabbits and guinea pigs, allowing children to enter and learn how to care, interact and to provide love and attention to our resident rabbits and guinea pigs. After learning the ins and outs of appropriate care, these youngsters, with staff oversight of course, will care for these little critters. They will be coached on nutrition, housing requirements, enrichment activities and they will add the final ingredients: LOVE.”

Wheek Care Guinea Pig Rescue - New Kensington, PA
“We work so hard to give the guinea pigs in the rescue a better life than they may have had previously, but there are some basic improvements we would like to do to the rescue to make our job easier or more effective,” said Julene Robinson, Executive Director at Wheek Care Guinea Pig Rescue in New Kensington, PA. “This grant will enable us to achieve most of our goals and we are so excited to get started. Thank you, Oxbow, for giving us that chance.”

Florida Wildlife Hospital - Melbourne, FL
“We are honored and excited to be a 2020 Oxbow grant winner,” said Tracy Frampton, Executive Director of the Florida Wildlife Hospital. “We see about 5,000 wildlife patients per year and Oxbow products help us in many ways. Specifically, we have been using Critical Care Herbivore and Critical Care Carnivore and will continue to do so. We will also use the grant to purchase some enrichment and chew toys for our fast growing patients such as baby squirrels and rabbits and well as many songbirds.”

Kaitlyn’s Critter Castle - Bluffton, IN
“We are so excited to receive a rescue grant from Oxbow,” said Renee Vitatoe of Kaitlyn’s Critter Castle. “We have rescued over 200 animals in the last year and currently have almost 65. We took a loan to have a building put on our property but due to needing to have it finished we have not been able to use it. This grant will help us get the building finished allowing us more room and to help more animals. This will also help us afford more vet bills.”

2021 Oxbow Rescue Grant Applications
Applications for the 2021 Oxbow Rescue Grants will be accepted from June 1, 2021, through August 31, 2021 for small animal rescue and rehabilitation projects throughout the United States and Canada. For more information about the program and Oxbow Animal Health, visit www.oxbowanimalhealth.com.
 

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October 05, 2020

What Are the Best Fruits for Small Pets?

What Are the Best Fruits for Small Pets?
by Cayla Iske, PhD
 

Fruit is a great source of flavor, color, and texture variety for your small pet. This, along with beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, polyphenols, and potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, make fruit a great addition to your little one’s diet. Fruit also provides a wonderful opportunity to increase bonding opportunities with your pet and can be an especially delicious way to positively reward good behavior. But, along with these benefits come some key nutritional downsides to be aware of. When fruits are fed incorrectly, the result can be negative impacts on your little one’s health.  

In this article, we will cover the following important topics regarding fruit and your small pet:  

  • Health concerns associated with too much fruit 
  • What fruits can be safely fed to several small pet species 
  • Outline basic limits on how much fruit can be safely be included in the diet of small mammals. 

Recapping Carbohydrates in Your Pet’s Diet  

We have talked in past articles about carbohydrates in the context of fiber and simple carbs, with fiber being the indigestible portion and simple carbs being very quickly digested. The fiber component of carbohydrates pushes food material along the digestive tract and hindgut to help prevent stasis while simple carbohydrates provide quick energy to the animal. However, in animals designed to consume relatively large amounts of fiber, too many simple carbs (sugar) can wreak havoc on the digestive system. Sugar is typically quickly digested in the small intestines but if there is too much in the diet some can escape to the hindgut where it is rapidly fermented. This can cause soft stools and even negative changes in the microbiome (those billions and billions of microscopic living organisms responsible for a myriad of physiological functions).  

Monosaccharides vs. Disaccharides: a Closer Look at Sugars  

Just as fiber is a complex nutrient, simple carbohydrates aren’t actually so “simple” either. There are many kinds of sugars starting with the simplest: glucose, fructose, and galactose. These are termed monosaccharides (“mono” meaning one, “saccharide” meaning sugar). From here these monosaccharides can link together to form other, more complex sugars. Disaccharides (“two sugars”) are formed by 2 monosaccharides. For example, sucrose is a disaccharide formed by one glucose and one fructose. Saccharides can link to form complex polysaccharides including starch and cellulose. 

What Types of Sugars Do Fruits Typically Contain? 

Sugars from fruit are typically naturally occurring monosaccharides. Fructose is commonly found in many plants including many fruits. As mentioned before, fructose is very rapidly absorbed and can lead to sudden blood sugar spikes and too much at once can ferment in the hindgut. So, while fructose is considered a natural sugar, its intake is still something that should be monitored daily so that large amounts are not consumed. Too much sugar too often, or even too much in one sitting, can contribute to serious and costly health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, negative changes in the microbiome (dysbiosis), and even gastrointestinal stasis.  

What does this mean for your pet? Ultimately, it means that fruits should only be fed in moderation due to their generally high sugar content. However, when fed in moderation, fruits can be a highly valued special treat by your small pet!  

Small Mammal Approved Fruits & Their Sugar Content 

Navigating sugar in fruits can quickly become confusing and frustrating, but it’s important to know that not all fruits have the same sugar content. The graph below is a simple and accurate tool to show average sugar contents of several small mammal-approved fruits. It’s important to keep in mind that foods considered safe to eat for some species are not safe to eat for other species. While rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, and mice can eat the fruits discussed in this blog post, we do not recommend feeding these fruits to species not included on this list, such as chinchillas and degus, without first consulting a vet. 

Chinchillas and Degus: Approach Fruits with Caution (or Avoid Completely)  

In their native, mountainous habitat, chinchillas and degus largely consume hearty, fibrous vegetation that can survive the climate. Even the small amounts of native berries, flowers, and fruits they may find in this harsh environment tend to be more fibrous than the fruits we are familiar with. This, coupled with relatively recent domestication and generally more sensitive digestive tract compared to rabbits and other small mammals, means degus and chinchillas may be particularly sensitive to fruits that are commercially available to us. If you choose to offer your degu or chinchilla fruits you should be sure to research the nutritional profile, feed sparingly, and heavily monitor your pet. While treats are not necessary for nutrition, they do support and often strengthen the human-animal bond. If degu or chinchilla pet parents are looking for an appropriate treat to offer their little one, we highly recommend hay-based treats such as our Organic Barley Biscuits. To read more about chinchillas and their unique physiology, read our Common Chinchilla Health Issues blog post. 

Fruits and Small Pets: Limits and Guidelines 

Now that we know more about sugars and concentrations in various fruits, how much fruit can be safely offered to your pet? A general rule with any small herbivore is fruit is a treat not a required component of their diet and less fruit is better. Herbivore (rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla) diets should heavily focus on hay and greens/veggies while omnivore (hamster, gerbil, rat, mouse) diets should be balanced for supplemental proteins, grains, and fats. But it is helpful to have an idea of how much is too much, so we have provided some basic limits below if you choose to offer fruit: 

  • Rabbits: The maximum amount of fruit that rabbits should consume is 1 teaspoon for every 2 pounds of body weight 3-4 times a week. 
  • Guinea Pigs: The maximum amount of fruit that guinea pigs should consume is 1 teaspoon for every 2 pounds of body weight 3-4 times a week. 
  • Chinchillas: Many chinchilla owners will choose not to feed any fruits. If you do, we recommend only using fruits as an infrequent training or enrichment tool offering 2-3 small pieces 1-2 times a week. 
  • Hamsters and Gerbils: The maximum amount of fruit that hamsters and gerbils should consume is less than 1 teaspoon every other day. 
  • Rats: The maximum amount of fruit that rats should consume is less than 1 teaspoon 2-3 times a week. 
  • Mice: The maximum amount of fruit that mice should consume is less than 1 teaspoon 2-3 times a week. 

Remember that these are guidelines—it is always good practice to regularly consult with your vet to ensure that your little one’s diet is ideal for their individual health needs. Depending on your pet’s health or preferences of you or your vet, different amounts of fruit than what is discussed here may be offered or recommended. 

No matter what species-appropriate fruits you decide to feed your pet, always thoroughly wash any fruits you offer. Using organic produce whenever possible can also help you and your pet avoid potentially harmful chemicals, such as pesticides. 

We hope this article has provided valuable insight into the role of fruit in your pet’s diet!  

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October 01, 2020

The Oxbow Way: Enjoy the Journey

The Oxbow Way: Enjoy the Journey

Why is the value 'Enjoy the Journey' an intrinsic part of Oxbow Animal Health’s company culture? Oxbow's Controller, Niki Riecken, explains.

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