All About Nutritional Enrichment For your Pet Guinea Pig or Rabbit

All About Nutritional Enrichment for Your Pet Herbivore

As pet parents, we provide our companions with the nutrition they require to thrive each day. Providing the right balance of daily nutritional enrichment for your pet helps to ensure they are happy & healthy.

Even with the right nutritional balance, however, you may find yourself wondering if there’s anything else you can do to make your pet’s mealtime routine more enriching.

Read on for some fun and easy ways to add enrichment to each of the core components of your pet’s daily nutrition.

Hay

High-quality grass hay is the cornerstone of every small herbivore’s diet. Among many benefits, hay provides the fibre that is essential to keeping small pets’ digestive tracts functioning properly.

So, what’s the simplest and most effective way to add nutritional enrichment to your pet’s daily diet? Variety! Benefits of consuming a variety of hays include:

  • Expands your pet’s palate by allowing him to experience multiple tastes and texturesNutritional enrichment for your pet rabbit or guinea pig - getting it right
  • Keeps mealtime interesting and encourages overall consumption of all-important fibre
  • Helps pets manage natural variability between different crops & prevents picky eating

 


Enrichment All-Stars: Botanical Hay & Harvest Stacks

For additional nutritional enrichment for your pet, when feeding hay, try Oxbow’s Botanical Hay or Harvest Stacks.

Botanical Hay consists of premium Western Timothy mixed with an enriching combination of fragrant herbs such as lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, and clover.

Harvest Stacks compressed hays invite interaction, adding a fun element of mental and physical enrichment to mealtime.

 


Feeding Tip: Location, Location, Location

Looking for ways to encourage your pet to consume more hay?

Place piles of hay in various locations throughout your pet’s living space, including inside the litterbox.

The more dining locations, the better!

 

 


Fortified Food

A measured amount of a uniform, balanced fortified food provides key vitamins and minerals small pets need to thrive.

Unlike with hay (where the more variety you can provide, the better) small pets should be provided with a consistent routine when it comes to the type and amount of food they receive each day. That doesn’t mean that foods can’t play a role in enrichment. Try moving your pet’s food dish around throughout his habitat from day to day. This simple and enriching act will challenge your pet spatially, requiring him to actively think about a part of his daily routine that may otherwise be taken for granted.

 


Nutritional enrichment for your petFresh Greens

Have you ever wondered what a rabbit’s daydream might look like?

We imagine it would involve a fresh field of greens, as far as the eye could see.

Fresh greens are a natural and nutritious source of daily enrichment that can benefit all pets. Greens provide important vitamins and minerals, in addition to helping keep pets hydrated.

As a general guideline, fresh greens should make up about 8% of a herbivore’s diet.

Consult with your veterinarian for a list of appropriate varieties. For rabbits, the House Rabbit Society offers a comprehensive list of appropriate greens at rabbit.org.

 


Accessories

Many small animals are prey species with natural instincts to run and hide when faced with stress. To support these instincts, it’s important to provide numerous spaces throughout your pet’s habitat for rest and relaxation.

Many hideout options exist, but some options are more enriching than others.

Hand-woven, all-hay habitats such as Oxbow’s Timothy CLUB accessories are 100% edible, making them an ideal choice if you’re looking for beneficial and innovative nutritional enrichment opportunities.

Oxbow Timothy Club Accessories for Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, Rats and other small animals

 


Treats

Treats are an important tool for strengthening the human-animal bond; just remember to feed them in moderation.

Healthy treats provide nutritional enrichment in the form of novel flavours and textures. From the sweet, vibrant flavours of freeze-dried fruit, to the hearty wholesomeness of baked treats containing veggies and herbs, many healthy options exist.

Use your favourite treat to reward and reinforce your pet’s positive behaviours.

 


Hide-And-Seek, Anyone?

Like any good reward, treats are even better when they’re earned!

For a fun and enriching activity, try hiding your pet’s favourite healthy reward in various locations, including his hay.

For even more of a challenge, stuff hay and a few treat pieces into an all-natural woven hay accessory (a Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Hideout works great for this)!

 


Supplements

Not all pets require nutritional support in the form of supplements, but many pets will benefit from the inclusion of a high-quality supplement in their daily routine.

Oxbow’s Natural Science supplements are available in seven varieties, providing support for the most common wellness needs experienced by small pets.

Try hiding your pet’s supplement in his hay (the same way you would a treat) to add an element of nutritional enrichment for your pet.

 


All About Hay and Your Pet’s Health

Key Benefits of Hay and Your Pet’s Health

As the pet parent of a small herbivore, you know that hay is important to your pet’s health, but have you ever wondered exactly how hay helps keep your pet healthy & happy?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific functions that hay provides to your pet’s daily health.

 

Digestive Health

The fibre in hay facilitates the constant digestive movement that small herbivores need to maintain digestive health.

Disrupting movement in the GI tract even for a short period of time can lead to a number of potentially life-threatening issues.

Providing grass hay most closely mimics the foraging activity small herbivores would perform in nature, making hay the ideal material to support digestive health.

 


Dental Health

Small herbivores require constant chewing of fibrous foods to provide proper, necessary dental wear. Hay is the ideal material to serve this important function.

The teeth of rabbits and guinea pigs never stop growing, making it critical to provide a proper diet centred around hay.

A diet with insufficient hay can lead to dental issues including disease, tooth elongation, & malocclusion.

 


Mental Health

Hay encourages the natural foraging behaviours of small pets, providing an essential opportunity for mental stimulation.

Access to a variety of high-quality hays provides different tastes & textures for your pet, keeping him active, engaged & healthy.

Place hay in as many locations as possible throughout your pet’s living space to maximize mental enrichment.

 

 


Tips for Preventing GI Stasis

Gastrointestinal Stasis is a serious condition that occurs when the digestive system slows down or stops completely. As a pet parent, there are key steps you can take to minimize the likelihood that your pet experiences this condition:

  • Feed a high fibre diet centred around unlimited grass hay (at least 70% of the diet)
  • Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your pet (at least once a year for healthy pets)
  • Keep a watchful eye out for signs of underlying issues (e.g. visible pain, dental health issues, infections, etc.)
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise & has access to two sources of freshwater

 


Top 5 Reasons to Offer Your Pet a Variety of Hays

All pets benefit from some variety in their diet – especially when it comes to hay. There a number of important benefits to providing a variety of grass hays. Here are the top five reasons to offer a variety of hays for your pet’s health.

  1. Helps Prevent Picky Eating: Access to a variety of tastes & textures expands your pet’s palate & helps him manage the natural variability that can occur between bags of hay.
  2. Supports Key Nutritional Needs: Fibre is key to your small herbivore’s health. Having access to multiple varieties of hay encourages consumption throughout the day, making sure your pet consumes enough fibre to stay healthy.
  3. Keeps Mealtime Fun & Enriching: Eating the same meal day after day gets boring! Offer multiple varieties to keep your pet active, mentally stimulated, & enriched.
  4. Strengthens the Human/Animal Bond: Offering your pet a variety of tastes & textures is fun for pet & pet parent alike. Experiment with different flavour combinations to help discover your pet’s favourites.
  5. Encourages Natural Foraging Behaviours: In the wild, your pet would spend much of his day foraging for a variety of plant material. Offer multiple varieties of hay to encourage these healthy, natural behaviours.

 


Hay is Not Just for Herbivores

Hay is critical to the health & wellbeing of herbivores, but other pets benefit from this high fibre forage as well.

Hay is a great source of physical enrichment for birds, hamsters, gerbils, rats, & other small pets.

From bedding to burrowing to general exploring, these pets will benefit from access to hay in their daily routine.

 


 

What are “Open-Rooted” Teeth?

Rabbits, guinea pigs & other small animals have “open-rooted” teeth. This means that these teeth grow continuously throughout the animal’s life.

Without proper dental wear, serious issues can arise, including malocclusion (improper alignment of top & bottom teeth), tooth elongation, & dental disease.

Eating hay regularly provides your pet the necessary wear & helps ensure that teeth do not become overgrown.

 


DIY Enrichment

To make mealtime more mentally enriching for your pet, try stuffing hay into hideouts or other “safe to chew” containers, such as toilet paper or paper towel rolls.

For added enticement, bury a few of your pet’s favourite treats toward the back of the hay & watch him eagerly hunt for them.

 

 


Why Oxbow Hay?

  • Oxbow grass hay is grown & harvested by experts in ideal climates
  • Extensively quality tested – from plant to pet
  • Gently processed & de-dusted to remove fine particles
  • Carefully hand-sorted by dedicated experts
  • Supported by exceptional, caring customer service

 

Oxbow Grass Hays - Australian Distributor