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December 16, 2020

Getting to Know Supplements: Natural Science Digestive Support

by Dr. Cayla Iske

Day in and day out, we talk to pet parents who want the absolute best for their fur babies. Over the years, some of the most common questions we’ve received are focused on pets with special health and dietary needs. Recognizing this common pattern, we worked with leading exotic animal veterinarians to better understand and address the most common health issues seen in small mammals. As a result of these efforts, we developed our Natural Science line of hay-based herbal supplements.  These supplements include: Digestive Support, Papaya Support, Urinary Support, Joint Support, Multi-Vitamin, Vitamin C, and Skin & Coat.

How Were Oxbow’s Natural Science Supplements Developed?

Through partnership with leading exotic animal veterinarians, nutritionists, and herbalists, we identified key herbal ingredients shown to positively support these common health conditions. Given the more specialized nature of many of these ingredients and the conditions they are designed to support, we determined the best delivery system was an all-natural, Timothy hay-based baked supplement.  It is important to remember that Oxbow’s Natural Science supplements are designed for pets that have a current or ongoing issue, or those who are predisposed to certain conditions and in need of additional, veterinarian-recommended support. Before starting your pet on any supplement, we recommend that you consult with your trusted veterinarian. 

How Can I Determine If My Pet Will Benefit from Digestive Support?

Natural Science Digestive Support was developed to address and support one of the most important parts of small mammal health: the digestive system. Many health ailments in small mammals can manifest in the form of digestive issues and this supplement is designed to support digestive health in times of need.

Whether it’s a parasitic infection, stress, stasis, or your little one just has a particularly sensitive digestive system, Natural Science Digestive Support provides natural nutritional support for a healthy digestive tract and digestive health maintenance. While digestive upset can be the outcome of a myriad of health issues, there are some common clinical signs and symptoms to look for that indicate your animal may be suffering from digestive issues:

  • Reduced food intake
  • Reduced water intake
  • Changes in body condition or weight
  • Changes in fecal output
    • Lack of feces
    • Changes in fecal size
    • Changes in fecal volume
    • Changes in color of feces
    • More leftover cecotrophes
    • Any changes to typical poops
  • Decreased activity
  • Lethargy 
  • Abdominal stretching 
  • Hunched posture
  • Behavior changes

When observing or monitoring your pet, it’s always important to remember that small exotics are experts at masking clinical signs and illness.  Thus, if any of these signs are observed, it is best to get your fur baby to an exotic animal veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will complete a physical examination and potentially some additional diagnostics to try and determine the root cause of the issue so an appropriate treatment plan can be made. Part of this treatment could include adding Natural Science Digestive Support to your little loved one’s daily routine.

Is Natural Science Digestive Support Appropriate For Omnivores?

Small omnivores such as rats, hamsters, and gerbils also commonly suffer from digestive troubles and our hay-based supplements can be very beneficial for these species when offered in appropriate amounts.  The balance of fiber types, along with other natural and herbal ingredients, can be beneficial to small omnivores and herbivores alike to help support overall gut health.

What’s The Appropriate Feeding Recommendation For My Pet?

For herbivores, we recommend 1/2 to 2 tabs per day (depending on weight.) We recommend feeding 1/8 tablet daily for smaller species of omnivores (e.g. dwarf hamsters, mice, etc.) and 1/4 tablet daily for larger omnivores (e.g. rats, gerbils, Syrian hamsters, etc.).  For more specific feeding recommendations, consult your veterinarian as well as the product label.   

How Does Natural Science Digestive Support Fit into the Daily Diet of Pets?

Herbivores

A healthy digestive system starts with a proper complete and balanced diet. For small herbivores, adequate amounts of appropriate fiber are key to keep the system moving. This fiber best comes in the form of an unlimited amount of a variety of high-quality grass hays, which should make up about 70% of the diet. Pair this hay with proper amounts and varieties of leafy greens and veggies alongside a nutritionally complete, uniform fortified food (don’t forget to sprinkle in small amounts of nutritious treats) and you are setting your pet up for a long, healthy life.

Omnivores

For small omnivores such as rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils, a balanced, uniform pellet paired with a plethora of proteins, fats, grains and produce varieties is key. But even with the best diet, sometimes health issues still arise. Our Digestive Support supplement is intended to provide that extra boost of digestive aid during these times of need and recovery. The herbal ingredients in Natural Science Digestive Support add great nutritional variety while also targeting natural mitigation of gastrointestinal distress.

What Function Do The Ingredients In Natural Science Digestive Support Play?

The role of fiber in the digestive health of small herbivores is well known; while omnivores don’t require as much fiber, it is still crucial to their overall digestive health. The staples of Natural Science Digestive Support include a balance of different types of fiber and additional natural ingredients that can help support a healthy digestive tract. 

From antioxidants to fight off oxidative stress and inflammation, to prebiotics which support a healthy microbiome necessary for digestion, the ingredients in our Digestive Support were selected for their natural nutrients and properties that keep the gastrointestinal tract functioning properly. Ingredients in this supplement, paired with a balanced diet, proper husbandry, and regular veterinary checks, can help get your pet back on the road to a long happy, healthy life.

Ingredient Nutrient Function
Timothy Grass Insoluble Fiber Promotes gut motility and a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
Barley and Oats Soluble Fiber Help maintain a healthy microbiota and promote gut barrier function to protect against pathogens.
Flaxseed Omega Fatty Acids Act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory to reduce inflammation and maintain healthy digestive processes.
Chamomile Terpenoids and Flavonoids Exerts both anti-inflammatory and immune stimulant properties.
Fenugreek Seed Flavonoids, Vitamin C, Galatcomannan

Has both anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic properties.

Brewers Dried Yeast & Hydrolyzed Yeast Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) Act as prebiotics and promote growth of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Chicory Root Inulin
Ginger Root Gingerols Contributes anti-inflammatory properties to support gastric motility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supplement FAQs

Supplements should not be considered treats and there are many things to think about before adding them to your pet’s diet. When considering supplements and discussing them with your veterinarian, some questions may come up. Below are some frequent questions we receive regarding our supplements that may address some of your queries and help you and your vet decide if they are right for your little one:

Q:  Is it possible to overfeed supplements?

A:  Yes. As with any supplement, it’s important to follow feeding guidelines at all times. Some ingredients used in our supplements may cause GI upset or other health issues if consumed in excess. Before incorporating any new supplements into your pet’s diet, it is highly recommended that you first consult with your veterinarian.

Q:  Can these supplements be given with prescription or over-the-counter medications?

A:  Yes, but it is imperative you first consult with your veterinarian to ensure there are not potential negative interactions between the Natural Science supplements and pharmaceuticals your little one may be taking.

Q:  Can any of the Natural Science supplements be fed to young, growing, pregnant or lactating animals?

A:  Yes:

  • Vitamin C
  • Multi-Vitamin

No:

These supplements are NOT intended for young, growing, pregnant or lactating animals and should not be fed during these life stages.

  • Digestive Support
  • Urinary Support
  • Skin & Coat
  • Joint Support
  • Papaya Support

 

Learn More

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Healthy treats and foods for hamsters and gerbils

DIY Snack Wreath