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Bringing home your new small pet: best care tips for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits & more

Did you know small animals can make a wonderful pet?Small pets are a great way to teach responsibility, are usually affordable, work well in smaller homes and spaces, and most are generally easier to care for than larger pets. With proper care and attention, they are a wonderful addition to the family. We can’t wait to share a few tips on how to provide a loving home and the very best care.  When deciding on what kind of small pet to get, keep in mind you may need to get at least two. Guinea pigs and rats for example are very social and need a buddy. Hamsters however are better with just one. Also consider how much space you have for their home and play. Hamsters are solitary, nocturnal, independent and love to burrow and run on their wheel at night Guinea pigs are gentle, sweet and sociable so they need a companion/buddy, and can make an ideal first pet Rabbits are also gentle and sociable, best with a companion, and can be trained to use a litter box Rats are very smart and social and can learn fun tricks  Before you bring your new pet home, it's best to get their new home all ready for a happy homecoming. It's much easier and less stressful if you purchase supplies and get everything setup before you bring them home. Small Pet Supply Checklist   It will vary slightly by animal but generally these are the basics you need: Pet carrier for transportation home and vet visits  Appropriate large habitat with ample room for your pet to play and plenty of space for everything they need – Bigger is Better! It's fun to watch them burrowing and building tunnels or popcorning in the bedding.  Avoid wire bottomed cages, as this poses a risk of injury for their small and delicate feet  Plenty of carefresh soft, absorbent paper bedding for nesting and burrowing. It’s unscented, no soggy mess, easy to clean up, with lots of fun colors to choose from Food & water dishes that won't tip over or a water bottle that hooks on the side Appropriate food including fresh hay, pellets, treats, fresh fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens Toys and accessories to keep them busy! It’s so much fun to watch them exercise on their wheel or run through a tunnel: Wood, wicker, cardboard, etc for chewing and entertainment and to wear down their teeth Tunnels or wheels for exercise, make sure the wheel is large enough to avoid back injury, no wires or mesh Hidey House: small pets need a place to seek shelter and feel protected. Small litter box and carefresh rabbit & ferret litter (for rabbits, ferrets or any small pets that use a litter box) Appropriate grooming tools Sand bath for those pets that cannot be bathed in water Playpen for safe social time  It's all about the location   Now that you have all the supplies, it’s time to have some fun setting up their home. Make sure to put their habitat in a well-lit area out of direct sunlight, with good ventilation, not too hot or cold.  Remember that most small pets are social creatures and will enjoy being able to observe you throughout the day; however, hamsters are more nocturnal and can get a little noisy at night running on his wheel!  Start by putting 2-6 inches of carefresh bedding in their habitat, or even more bedding off to one side or corner to give them ample space to burrow or nest—gerbils and hamsters will especially love you for this!  Then add all the accessories, being sure to secure the water bottle or water dish. Be creative!  Now you are ready to bring home your new pet!  Bringing them home   Your pet will need time to adjust to their new home. Keep your interactions to a minimum for the first few days, changing out their food and water when they are sleeping—give them time to feel safe.  Sit nearby and speak gently to them, letting them adjust to your presence and the sound of your voice. Observe them for any odd behaviors and contact your vet if you notice anything concerning.  As soon as your little ones are more used to their new home, start socializing with them and playing with them, a little more each day. Some small animals do not like to be held a lot but they may enjoy lots of soft petting – guinea pigs and rats even purr!  Be sure to handle them very gently. Small children should always be supervised.  Hamsters will squeak out of pure joy when being fed, running on a wheel, or receiving a new toy to play with, and guinea pigs make the cutest noises when they are happy.  Now you can provide the very best care and have FUN with your new small pet! 
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The Importance of Vitamin C for your Small Pet

Guest post by Linden of @CavyCoterie We all know it's important for our furry friends to get the best possible nutrition, but did you know some small pets, like Guinea Pigs, need vitamin C every day? There are a myriad of reasons why vitamin C is important for guinea pigs. It is essential for keeping teeth and jaws strong. Vitamin C also keeps both scurvy and dental disease away, while boosting the immune and vascular system. Guinea pigs are unable to make or store their own vitamin C so the best way to make sure they receive their daily vitamins is with a delicious offering of vitamin-rich vegetables. Red and green peppers, rosehips, parsley, kale and other dark leafy greens are all excellent sources of vitamin C. However, if your guinea pig is young, sick, or pregnant, the best way to administer an extra boost of vitamin C is with a liquid vitamin administered via syringe. An average guinea pig needs 10-20mg of vitamin C daily but if the animal is sick, your vet may recommend more. Many pet stores sell water-soluble vitamin C drops marketed towards small animals but these products are ineffective. The dose of vitamin C, when mixed with water, becomes so diluted it will not provide your pet with the amount of vitamin C it needs each day. Plus vitamin C will break down too quickly and lose potency if used in a water bottle that is in constant sunlight. These drops are often flavored so if the animal doesn’t like the taste, it pollutes their fresh water supply and turns them off drinking and can lead to dehydration. There are vitamin C cookies sold for small animals but there is no way to be certain the vitamin C hasn’t been affected by heat during the baking process or by light, since the cookies are stored in light-penetrable bags. Like guinea pigs, Chinchillas need consistent vitamin C primarily for dental health. These critters spend so much time chewing, they need strong teeth to munch their hay. Before administering vitamin C to rabbits, consult a vet. While rabbits can synthesize their own vitamin C, there is debate over whether or not it can lead to further health issues. Omnivores, such as rats, ferrets, and hamsters, do not need daily vitamin C but benefit from the added boost to their immune system when ill. The dose needed is much smaller than for herbivores, so a quick phone call to the vet can confirm proper dosage.
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Bigger is Better Contest Recap

(Pictured: Grand Prize winner, Maddie)  Bigger is better when it comes to a small pet’s home—they may be little but even small pets need elbow room! A larger habitat allows pets’ the room they need for exercise and more space to sleep eat and play. Be sure to read our Bigger is Better for Your Small Pets blog, by Dr. Ruth MacPete if you haven’t already. The Contest Our carefresh community is chalked full of amazing small pet owners who are giving their little ones the absolute best life! To celebrate them AND proper small pet care, we launched the Bigger is Better Contest during National Pet Month. We asked for friends of carefresh to submit photos of their small pet’s home and we were absolutely blown away by all the amazing submissions we received! We wanted to toot their horn for them, and share some of our contest winners! Pictured, going clockwise, are winners Kaylee S, Rosie, @mydear.hammies, and Ava L. These are just a small sampling of the truly wonderful homes being provided for the smallest member of these families.  Updated Recommendations We’ve updated the habitat size recommendations on the back of your carefresh bedding bags to be in line with these recommendations for proper small pet care! These pint size pets may be small, but they give lots of love. Be sure you provide them with the space, bedding, hay and exercise they deserve. And remember, in this case bigger is better.
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Don’t Throw It Out - How to Compost Natural Cat Litter and Bedding

Did you know that all of Healthy Pet’s products are 100% biodegradable and compostable? Not only are we committed to making sustainable products at Healthy Pet, but we also strive to produce minimal waste.  If you are a cat parent and use okocat natural litter, if you have a hamster and use carefresh small animal bedding, or own a dog that uses Puppy Go Potty paper litter, then you can sleep better at night knowing that you are creating a smaller carbon footprint for your furry friend. In the past when changing the litter box or cleaning out a small pet’s home, it has been common to simply toss the old litter or bedding into the trash. However, composting has recently become a great way to reduce household waste. How do I start a home compost? If you are interested in starting a home compost, it’s important to practice good composting standards for optimal aerobic decomposition. This means stirring, turning, watering, checking the temperature, and covering your compost every few days. Make sure there isn’t too much of one type of organic material in your compost pile. It does take some effort but it’s well worth it in the end. After a few months your compost will be ready to be used in your garden, and you can make it available to others needing compost. It will be fun to share how your pets helped contribute. If you have any questions or concerns regarding composting at home, we recommend checking your local ag regulations, reading more through the tips at EPA.gov and checking your state regulations. Can I compost poo?  It depends on what type of pet. You can compost the feces of any herbivore; bunnies, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and other small pets’ poo can all be composted along with the used wood or paper bedding like carefresh. Here are 3 basic steps on how to compost your herbivore’s poo: Place the droppings and used bedding on your compost heap, add straw and mix it in. Allow this to sit with other compostable items, turning the compost every so often as needed this allows for proper aerobic decomposition. Then place the “finished” compost on gardens once the compost has been sitting for at least six months. If you own an omnivore or carnivore (such as a cat or dog), we recommend removing the solid waste from the used litter and properly disposing with the use of a biodegradable bag. The feces of any omnivorous or carnivorous animals may contain harmful bacteria and should NOT come in contact with anything edible. After removing any solid waste, you can safely compost the rest of the litter and use it for ornamentals, flowers, shrubs or lawn after at least six months to a year. When composting litter you will want to make sure that is made from 100% plant-based material, such as okocat. You do NOT want to compost clay, sand-based or crystal litter, as they can actually damage your soil, especially a litter with synthetic toxins. Additionally, do not compost the waste of any animals who are ill, contagious, or taking medication, as these unwanted elements may wind up in your soil. A word of caution: pregnant women should avoid handling cat waste under any circumstances as it sometimes carries a virus that may lead to birth defects in a fetus. What if I don’t want to start a home compost, but don’t want to throw my excess litter or bedding into the garbage? If you are not interested in creating your own home compost bin or don’t have the available space, you may be able to use a yard waste bin or simply bring your compostable materials to local farms or a nearby community garden. Be sure to ask first if they will accept compostable materials with pet waste and what the requirements are. Some will take it if it is in a Biodegradable Products Institute certified compostable bag. BPI is a third-party organization that certified that every product being used will break down in its commercial composting facility. Most waste management companies have a commercial composting facility, especially if you live in a larger town or city. If you are struggling to locate one, we simply recommend googling “composting facilities near me”, give them a call and ask: If they provide a waste-management bin and the times they pick up compost If they do not pick up, when and how your compostable materials can be dropped off Any regulations of what should/should not be included in your compost materials The cost associated with working the yard-waste management Any additional benefits they provide (such as finished compost at a reduced price). So what are you waiting for? Start composting your used Healthy Pet products today!  
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Selecting the best bedding for guinea pigs for ultimate comfort and odor control

Guinea pigs make a great first pet. Not only do they have fun personalities and make the cutest noises – they often purr when they are happy, but they are also very easy to care for. Make sure you have space in your home and your heart for two guinea pigs, as they are very social creatures; and it is recommended that you adopt a pair of same-gendered Guinea pigs.
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