March, 2022

March 28, 2022

Oxbow Partnering with Medgene Labs to Donate Doses of RHDV-2 Vaccine (Emergency Use Authorization)

Oxbow Partnering with Medgene Labs to Donate Doses of RHDV-2 Vaccine (Emergency Use Authorization)

Oxbow Animal Health is partnering with Medgene Labs (Brookings, SD) to donate 2,000 doses of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV-2) vaccine (emergency use authorization) to support rabbit vaccination clinics across the United States. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is a usually fatal disease affecting wild and domestic rabbits and is caused by Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Viruses. Major outbreaks of RHDV-2 have occurred in wild and domestic rabbits in North America since 2020.

Organizations eligible to apply for RHDV-2 vaccine (emergency use authorization) doses may include rescue groups and/or veterinarians and must meet the following requirements:

1. Must reside in a state that has approved distribution of the Medgene RHDV-2 vaccine (emergency use authorization).
2. Must have a veterinarian identified to procure and administer vaccinations.
3. Must have a minimum of 10 rabbits to vaccinate within a 24 hour period.

Applications should be submitted online and will be accepted through April 30, 2022.
To learn more and apply, visit bit.ly/3DgY4eE.

“At Oxbow, we’re committed to growing the good for the animals we serve and the caretakers who love them,” said Melissa Ross, Oxbow’s Vice President of Marketing. “To us, this commitment means identifying animals in need and using our resources to support them. With this in mind, we are delighted to partner with Medgene Labs to donate and distribute 2,000 doses of RHDV-2 vaccine (emergency use authorization) to support vaccination clinics across the U.S. These doses will help ensure that 1,000 domestic rabbits are protected from RHDV-2.”

Learn more about RHDV-2.
Learn what Oxbow is doing to keep your rabbits safe from RHDV-2.

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March 22, 2022

DIY Small Pet Enrichment Toys

DIY Small Pet Enrichment Toys
Written by Patricia Larson, LVT and Kellie Hayden

Want to make a fun and enriching toy for your small pet? Here are four great toys that you can make yourself using objects from around your home as well as hay fines!

Note: Always supervise your pets with enrichment when tubes or string are included materials.

 

Hide and Seek Boxes

For this activity, you will need:  

  • One paper towel tube  
  • A pair of scissors
  • Small treat pieces, or your pet’s daily fortified food
  • Hay fines 
  • Jute or untreated paper string (optional)

Step 1: Cut the paper towel tube into 3 pieces.

Step 2: Cut a square out of the side of each tube section and fold in the ends of the tubes.
Step 3: Place treats and small pieces of hay inside.
Step 4: Offer to your pet for supervised fun!

Want to up the difficulty? Make hanging Hide and Seek Boxes!

Step 1: Add a hole to the top and bottom of each box.

Step 2: Thread the string through these holes. Tie knots and cut the string so that there’s 1 inch of space in-between each box.
Step 3: Hang the Hide and Seek Box from the top or side of your pet’s enclosure. The movement of the box adds a new challenge for your little ones!

 

Rolling Treat Dispenser

For this activity, you will need: 

  • One paper towel tube 
  • 4 toilet paper tubes 
  • Hay fines
  • Small treat pieces, or your pet’s daily fortified food

Step 1: Take the toilet paper tubes and fold them in half or thirds the long way.  
Step 2: Place the folded tubes inside the paper towel tube, two on each side.
Step 3: Place treats, fortified food, and hay fines inside.

Step 4: Offer to your pet for a fun roll and toss toy! 

 

Paper Tube “Kabob”

For this activity, you will need:  

  • One paper towel tube
  • A pair of scissors
  • Jute or untreated paper string
  • Oxbow’s Enriched Life Willow Bundle
  • Fresh cucumber or zucchini (optional)

Step 1: Make two small holes at the top of the tube for string.

Step 2: Make large square holes and smaller circular holes throughout the paper towel tube.

Step 3: Thread the string through the top two holes of the tube.
Step 4: Place, measure, and cut as needed to add individual sticks.

Step 5: Stuff hay fines in the square holes to act as a hay feeder.  
Step 6: Hang the tube from the ceiling or side of your pet’s enclosure. If desired, you can add soft veggies (like cucumber or zucchini) to the sticks for extra fun! 

 

Celebration Hay Poms

For this activity, you will need: 

  • Jute or untreated paper string 
  • A pair of scissors
  • Longer hay fines, or your pet’s favorite hay 

Step 1: Tie bundles of shorter hay strands together in knots to make small “poms”

Step 2: Tie the poms to the side of your pet’s habitat as a form of edible decoration!

 

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March 11, 2022

How to Care for Your Guinea Pig

How to Care for Your Guinea Pig

Photo of giunea pig in person's lap

Your guinea pig is a central member of your family and we know you want to provide piggie with everything he needs to be happy and healthy every day.  That's why we've put together this collection of essential guinea pig care tips to help you along your journey together. 

In this article, we'll cover the following important topics:

  • Feeding your guinea pig
  • Guinea pig behaviors 
  • Enriching your guinea pig's world 
  • Housing your guinea pig
  • Essential guinea pig supplies
  • Your guinea pig's health    

Feeding Your Guinea Pig

  • Grass hay is the most important component of every herbivore's diet, and your guinea pig is no exception!  The high amounts of beneficial fiber in hay help meet the important digestive and dental health needs of guinea pigs and other small herbivores.
  • daily recommended amount of uniform, fortified food provides essential nutrients (e.g., vitamins and minerals) not found in hay.
  • Fresh, pig-friendly greens are an essential component of every guinea pig's daily diet.
  • Healthy treats, while not nutritionally essential, can help make your relationship with your rabbit more fun and meaningful.

guinea pig in pile of hay

Hay For Your Guinea Pig

It’s important for your guinea pig to have unlimited access to a variety of quality grass hays. Hay helps prevent obesityboredom, and dental and gastrointestinal disease, among other benefits. Replacing the hay in your guinea pig’s habitat can encourage picky eating, so we recommend changing it only when soiled.  Offer a variety of types of grass hay to further discourage unhealthy picky eating habits.  

Young (less than 6 months old), pregnant, nursing or ill animals can benefit from eating alfalfa hay in addition to grass hay because of the higher nutritional content (including higher levels of protein and calcium). Otherwise, alfalfa should only be given to your guinea pig occasionally as a treat.

Hay Selection

Keep in mind that grass hay should make up the majority of your pet’s daily diet. Offer a variety of types of grass hay to your guinea pig to promote optimum health. Use the Taste & Texture Guide located on every Oxbow hay package to determine your pet’s taste and texture preferences.

We have many all-natural, farm-fresh hays to choose from including Western TimothyOrchard GrassOat HayBotanical HayOrganic Meadow Hay, and Hay Blends - Western Timothy & Orchard. Also, check out our Harvest Stacks line of compressed hays for extra enrichment.

Photo of guinea pig eating Oxbow pellets

Your Guinea Pig’s Food

Providing a daily recommended amount of high-fiber, age-appropriate fortified food will help ensure that your pet receives essential nutrients not found in hay.

Always choose an age-appropriate, uniform food formulated specifically for guinea pigs.  Oxbow offers a number of quality food lines to meet the unique preferences of all piggies.  Unsure which to choose?  Don’t worry!  We’ve outlined the unique characteristics of each of our food lines to make the decision easier!  It's also important to remember that not all guinea pig foods are created equal.  Some options, like popular mixes and forage blends, promote unhealthy selective feeding behaviors that can lead to serious health conditions.  Learn more about the differences between uniform and mix-based foods and what this means for your guinea pig's health.  

two guinea pigs eating lettuce

Greens For Your Guinea Pig

Fresh greens are an important part of your guinea pig’s daily diet.  Greens help keep your piggie hydrated and offer important vitamins and minerals, as well as enrichment.  Romaine, bib, and red leaf lettuce are good greens to offer, but avoid foods in the onion family such as leeks, chives, and onions.  Learn more about the best greens for guinea pigs

Treats For Guinea Pigs

Treats (including fruits and veggies) are great for encouraging interaction between you and your pet, but they should never take the place of essential daily foods.  Offering too many treats can lead your guinea pig to refuse his healthy, essential foods.  Not all treats are created equal, either!  All Oxbow Simple Rewards treat varieties are designed to be as wholesome as they are delicious. 

Guinea Pig Behaviors

Guinea pigs are most active at dawn and twilight, taking naps throughout the day.

Guinea pigs often show their affection through vocalizations. For example, you may hear a sound called “wheeking” when your pet is looking for a treat, or purring when being held. Also, your guinea pig may “popcorn” – bounce excitedly and repeatedly to express happiness. The best way to interact with your guinea pig is to play with him on the floor. As creatures of habit, guinea pigs need to be introduced to changes slowly in regards to feedings and routines.

Some guinea pig behaviors can seem strange at first.  For example, you may see your guinea pig eat its own poop.  This is a normal, healthy behavior that provides essential vitamins and nutrients. 

Enriching Your Guinea Pig’s World

All guinea pigs are wired to engage in a set of healthy instinctual behaviors each day.  These behaviors include chewingplayinghiding, and exploring.  Intentionally encouraging these behaviors in healthy ways is called enrichment.  Support all four behaviors in a variety of ways each day to support your guinea pig’s mental and physical health.     

Picture of Guinea Pig in Hay House

Housing Your Guinea Pig

It’s easy to make guinea pigs feel at home inside your house.  As prey animals by nature, all pigs (even those with a free run of the house) need a safe place where they can spend time and escape potential environmental stressors.  Choose a spacious, quality habitat with a solid floor and set it up near household activities, but away from drafts.  Your guinea pig’s habitat should be outfitted with environmental essentials such as a hay habitat (Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel), a litter box lined with litter and bedding, multiple chews, grass hay, a food bowl, and two sources of fresh, clean water.    

Essential Supplies For Your Guinea Pig

Every guinea pig should have daily access to some basic supplies for health and happiness.  Make sure you’re stocked up on the following:  

Photo of guinea pig eating Oxbow vitamin C tablet

Your Guinea Pig’s Health

Many guinea pig health problems are a result of nutrition, diet, digestive and dental issues.  Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Loose, soft, or lack of stool
  • Small, dry, or infrequent stools
  • Blood in the urine
  • Sneezing or trouble breathing
  • Hunching  in a corner or lack of activity (lethargy)
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Observed difficulty with chewing
  • Bald patches in the fur
  • Sores on the feet
  • Abnormal eating or drinking

Still have questions about how to provide the best care for your guinea pig? Our experts are here for you! 

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March 08, 2022

How to Find an Exotic Vet

How to Find an Exotic Vet
by Dianne Cook, LVT

 

Exotic companion mammals are living longer, happier, healthier lives than anyone ever thought possible just a generation ago. Advancements in species-appropriate nutrition and husbandry certainly play a significant role in your fur babies’ overall well-being, but consistent, high-quality veterinary care is also essential for healthful longevity. Unfortunately, finding an experienced exotic-savvy veterinarian can prove quite challenging. Whether you are looking for a new veterinarian or are interested in determining whether your current vet is still the best fit for you and your exotic pet, the information and tips below are aimed to help you make a confident decision. 

Don’t ALL Vets Know How to Treat ALL Species? 

While it’s true that many veterinarians are skilled in treating more than one species, their typical schooling consists of a generalized curriculum establishing the basics of care for common species like dogs, cats, cattle, and equine. After all, learning how to properly diagnose and treat every single animal species would take far longer than four years of vet school. This means that many veterinarians graduate and start practicing with minimal exposure to exotics. For fledgling veterinarians with a special interest in treating exotic pets, some universities offer additional training and licensing to expand their skill set beyond the more “traditional” domesticated animals.  

Why is Finding an Exotics-Savvy Vet so Important? 

There is a common saying in veterinary medicine: “cats aren’t small dogs.” The meaning of this seemingly ambiguous statement is the fact that even though there can be several similarities between species, treating all animals the same could lead to tragic consequences. Exotics veterinarians understand the importance of treating each species uniquely. They also realize that most exotic pets are prey species and expertly camouflage signs of illness or injury, so they are skilled at detecting subtle changes that may indicate a brewing health concern.  

If your dog’s vet refuses to see your rabbit (or guinea pig, rat, hamster, etc) – don’t be upset. They are still an incredibly smart, highly skilled professional perfectly capable of caring for your pooch. Rabbits likely fall outside of their comfort zone or they don’t have the appropriate equipment to properly care for small mammals. Regardless of their reasoning, be grateful they were honest about their strengths and abilities. 

Let the Vet Search Begin 

We’ve established that finding a veterinarian with the right training, knowledge, and skills to treat your fur baby may not be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible. The following resources will help aid in your search for your exotic friend’s new vet. 

  1. Word of Mouth – As any successful veterinarian will tell you, one of the best ways find a veterinary practice that fits your needs is good old-fashioned word-of mouth referral. Talk to fellow animal lovers. Join online species-specific forums and social media groups with other exotic animal enthusiasts in your area. Ask questions. Be specific about your needs and preferences. You might be surprised how many people jump at the chance to brag about their favorite veterinarian. 
  2. Ask Your Dog or Cat Vet – There are many veterinarians who have experience treating both traditional companion species (dogs and cats) as well as exotics. This tends to be especially common in rural areas where veterinarians are less populous and therefore need to expand their skillset to include more species. It’s also possible that even if your cat’s vet doesn’t see exotics, one of their associates does. Additionally, even if your veterinarian doesn’t feel comfortable seeing exotics, they may have a good idea of other hospitals in the area who will. The fact that you’ve already established a relationship with your current veterinarian will also help them provide references for exotics-friendly clinics with a similar feel and flow.  
  3. Shelters and Rescues – Animal shelters and rescue organizations work very closely with veterinarians to care for the animals under their watch. There’s a good chance your local shelter or humane society will have a list of exotic-savvy veterinarians in your area. If you have any species-specific rescues nearby, don’t hesitate to reach out to them as well. Private rescue organizations will generally have at least one well-established relationship with an exotics veterinarian, and are usually more than happy to help any pet parent looking to provide appropriate veterinary care for their furry family members. Don’t have a local shelter or small mammal rescue nearby? Some larger rescue organizations, like the House Rabbit Society, keep a list of reputable veterinarians by state on their website. 
  4.  Veterinary Associations – There are a several professional associations for veterinarians who have a particular interest or expertise in exotic species. Searching through the listings on their websites will lead you to veterinarians who you can be certain have a passion for small mammals. One of the most well respected of these organizations, the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV) has a handy “Find an AEMV Vet” feature on their website that allows you to search by hospital name, country, city, etc. 
  5. Referral or Teaching Hospitals – Large referral-only hospitals are generally filled with a variety of veterinary specialists and often have a department dedicated to just to exotic species. The same is true for many of the veterinary teaching hospitals found at colleges of veterinary medicine. The state-of-the-art treatment and care provided at these facilities makes them the obvious choice for little ones suffering from complicated or chronic medical issues, but they often do not perform routine healthcare (spays, neuters, nail trims, etc). Their vast, species-specific knowledge, however, makes them an excellent resource for finding a general practice well-versed in these unique species. 

Decisions, Decisions… 

Once you’ve tracked down a few potential exotics-savvy veterinarians, it will be time to narrow the list even further by gathering some important details from the veterinarians themselves. Before taking your furry companion to see a new vet for the first time, it’s important to either call or make an appointment to go over the important questions below.  

  • How many exotic pets of the same (or similar) species do they see each year?  
  • Is the veterinarian board certified or the member of any professional organizations? 
  • Do they have the appropriate equipment needed to diagnose and treat your species? 
  • Has the support staff been trained on proper handling and care of exotic animals? 
  • Have any of the veterinary technicians pursued a specialty in exotics? 
  • Is the hospital fear-free certified? 
  • Does the hospital have a special ward or “quiet room” to house exotic species? Do they have a separate entrance to avoid run-ins with predators (dogs and cats)? If not, how do they limit the stress of these animals in clinic? 
  • What services do they provide for exotics? 
  • Do they allow pet parents to be present for treatment and examinations, or do they take the pets out of the room? Are there any exceptions to their policy? Why? 
  • Do they provide their own emergency services? If not, who do they suggest for after-hour care?  

Once you’ve found a potential veterinarian who answers the above questions to your liking, it’s time to make your pet’s first appointment. While new and likely a little stressful (for both you and your little one), your first visit should feel comfortable and inviting. Did reception greet you kindly? How does the staff interact with your fur baby? Is the veterinarian warm and knowledgeable? If the veterinarian, or any member of their staff, does not treat your pet as one of their own or is dismissive about any of your concerns, you might want to continue your search until you find a better match.  

Final Thoughts 

It is important to take as much time deciding upon an exotic veterinarian as you would take finding a new doctor for yourself. While the search can be a challenge, especially if you happen to live in less densely populated areas, the effort is certainly worth the hassle. Knowing your furry family member has access to the most species-appropriate veterinary care will not only bring you peace of mind but will help ensure you get to share as many years as possible with your beloved exotic companions.  

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