How To Provide Nutritional Enrichment For Small Pets

Written by Oxbow

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March 28, 2018🞄

As pet parents, we provide our companions with the nutrition they require to thrive each day.  Providing the right balance of daily nutrition helps ensure that our pets are happy and 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. Download the new All About Nutritional Enrichment guide for some fun and easy ways to add enrichment to each of the core components of your pet’s daily nutrition.

Hay For Herbivore Health

High-quality grass hay is the cornerstone of every small herbivore’s diet. Among many benefits, 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!

Benefits of providing hay varieties include:

  • Expanding your pet’s palate by allowing him to experience different tastes and textures
  • Keeping mealtime interesting and fun, and encouraging the overall consumption of important fiber
  • Helping pets manage the natural variability between different crops 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 mixed with an aromatic 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.

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. Many of our enrichment accessories are designed to serve hay in enriching ways.  The more dining locations, the better!

Offer Fortified Food in Enriching Ways

A measured amount of uniform 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, though! 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 day that may otherwise be taken for granted.

Fresh Greens = Enriching Daily Staples

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. 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. 

Enriching Mealtime Accessories for Pets

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 a vareity of species-appropriate accessories to support the playing, chewing, hiding, and exploring instincts of your pets.

Accessories like the Wobble Teaser and Rolly Teaser are custom designed to make the process of offering food at mealtime more enriching. 

Offer Healthy Treats for Enrichment

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 flavors and textures. From the sweet, vibrant flavors of freeze-dried fruit, to the hearty wholesomeness of baked treats containing veggies and herbs, many healthy options exist. Use your favorite treat to reward and reinforce your pet’s positive behaviors.

Hide-and-Seek, Anyone?

Like any reward, treats are even better when they’re earned! For a fun and enriching activity, try hiding your pet’s favorite healthy treat 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 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 the most common wellness needs experienced by small pets. 

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

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

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