How to Provide Nutritional Enrichment for Small Pets

Written by Oxbow

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March 28, 2018🞄

Updated: March 16, 2024


Providing the right balance of daily nutrition helps ensure that our pets are happy and healthy. Even with the right balance, however, you may wonder if you can do more to make your pet’s mealtime routine more enriching. Read on for some fun and easy ways to add enrichment to your pet’s daily nutrition.



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Hay For Herbivore Health

High quality grass hay is the cornerstone of a small herbivore’s diet. Hay provides the fiber 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 this all-important component of your pet’s daily diet? Variety!

The benefits of providing hay variety include:

  • Expanding your pet’s palate by allowing them to experience different tastes and textures
  • Keeping mealtime interesting and fun, and encouraging the consumption of important fiber
  • Helping pets manage the natural variability between different crops of hay to help prevent picky eating


Botanical Hay & Harvest Stacks: Enriching Hay Options

For additional enrichment, try Oxbow’s Botanical Hay or Harvest Stacks. Botanical Hay consists of premium Western Timothy and an aromatic combination of lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, and clover. Harvest Stacks invite interaction and add mental and physical enrichment to mealtime.

Pet Parent Tip: Location is Key! 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 and in their play pen. The more dining locations, the better! Check out our blog post for additional ideas to serve hay in enriching ways.


guinea pig eating oxbow's prime cut hay hearty and crunchy in a home setting

Say Hello to our New Prime Cut Hays!

Oxbow’s Prime Cut Hays offer the dental and digestive health benefits that small herbivores need and the exact taste and texture they want. Prime Cut Hay comes in two varieties: Hearty & Crunchy, and Soft & Lush. With Oxbow Prime Cut, pet parents feed their pet’s need to explore and forage by providing an ultra-premium experience.


Offer Fortified Food in Enriching Ways

A measured amount of a uniformly nutritious fortified food provides the key vitamins and minerals small pets need to thrive. Small pets should be provided with a consistent routine when it comes to the type and amount of fortified food they receive each day. That doesn’t mean that foods can’t play a role in enrichment, though! Try placing your pet’s food dish in different parts of the habitat each day, or hide your pet’s food in a pile of hay to encourage foraging. This will challenge your pet spatially and require them to think about a part of their day that they may otherwise take for granted.


Rabbits with Oxbow's Wooden Puzzler in a home setting

Enriching Mealtime Accessories for Pets

It’s important to provide a variety of species-appropriate accessories to support your pet’s playing, chewing, hiding, and exploring instincts.

Accessories like the Wobble Teaser, Rolly Teaser, or Wooden Puzzler are designed to make the process of offering food at mealtime more enriching!

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 accessories from Oxbow’s Timothy CLUB are 100% edible, making them an ideal choice if you’re looking for innovative nutritional enrichment for herbivores.


Domestic rat eating lettuce in a home setting

Fresh Greens are Enriching Daily Staples

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. Fresh greens should be a daily component of every rabbit and guinea pig’s diet. Consult with your veterinarian for a list of appropriate varieties.


Offer Healthy Treats for Enrichment

Treats are an important tool for strengthening the human-animal bond; just remember to feed them in moderation. From the sweet, vibrant flavors of our freeze-dried fruit, to the hearty wholesomeness of our baked treats containing veggies and herbs, many healthy options exist. Use your pet’s favorite treat to reward and reinforce your their positive behaviors.

Treats are even better when they’re earned! For a fun activity, hide your pet’s favorite treat in various locations, including in hay. Stuffing some hay and pieces of a treat into a spacious hideout can provide your pet with a fun foraging station! Options also abound with our Enriched Life products, which are designed with small mammals’ natural instincts in mind.


Supplements for Pet Health and Enrichment

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 common wellness concerns experienced by small pets.

Oxbow supplements support health in a variety of areas, including:


Now that you’re a nutritional enrichment expert, we can’t wait to hear about the fun activities you create for your little one! Be sure to follow us on instagram and facebook for opportunities to share photos of your little one living an enriched life.

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Forage Wise Foods - NEW!

With the perfect balance of enriching variety and delicious nutrition, Forage Wise is made to engage your pet's foraging instincts with a fun blend of shapes, colors, textures, and flavors. Every piece of our Variety Smart recipe is formulated to deliver essential nutrition.