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Helpful tips for a healthy diet & fun playtime with your new small pet guinea pigs, rabbits or hamster

Deciding to adopt a new small pet and choosing the right one can be a big decision!  Be aware of all their special needs and behaviors to ensure you are choosing the right furry friend so you can provide the very best care they deserve. carefresh is here to give you some helpful tips to ensure your new small pets live a happy, healthy life!   Your Small Pet Diet Needs: The perfect diet for your small animal will vary by species, but most share common threads like always making sure they have plenty of fresh water! Rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas are herbivores and have some similar dietary requirements. They all need a constant supply of nutritious Timothy Hay which should make up 75% of their diet with essential fiber for digestion, dental care and enrichment, along with a pellet food that is specially formulated for them. Guinea pigs, like humans, are unable to make their own vitamin C. Because their bodies cannot synthesize or store it, they need to receive around 10-30 mg per day through their diet. Guinea pigs that don’t get enough vitamin C are at risk for scurvy​. Dark leafy greens and fresh vegetables daily are a great source of vitamins and minerals and all natural treats like strawberries or apples can be given occasionally. Hamsters and gerbils, on the other hand, are omnivores and thrive on a high-variety diet consisting of high fiber seeds daily, fresh vegetables and dark, leafy greens every 1-2 days, fruits (no citrus) 1-2 small amounts per week, insects and nuts. (Hamster hideout forum has a great list of foods and how much, how often) http://hamsterhideout.com/forum/topic/96457-safe-and-unsafe-foods-for-hamsters/ Rats are also ominvores but need higher protein with plenty of dark greens and veggies   Be sure to follow the feeding instructions on the bag and consult your veterinarian with questions regarding proper feeding amounts. Introduce new foods gradually and watch for any abnormal behaviors. Small pets have very sensitive digestive system, contact your vet if you notice anything amiss, from lethargy to bloating or constipation. Be careful not to overfeed treats as it will encourage your pet to refuse their nutritious foods or become overweight.   Providing a well-balanced diet is just one part of giving your pet the best care and attention.   Providing the best home for your new small pet:  Guinea pigs and rats, especially need a mate and should always be adopted in pairs. While certain species of hamsters will become very aggressive if they share a home with another hamster. If you are adopting more than one new pet at a time, make sure to scale up their habitat accordingly! Our sweet small pets are typically very social creatures and will need lots of human interaction. But remember to start slow! To get your new pet used to your presence, you can start by feeding them treats by hand or spending time near their habitat reading or speaking to them gently. Provide as large of a habitat as possible – remember, bigger is better, with plenty of soft, absorbent carefresh bedding. Spot-clean daily with a full refresh and deep clean every 7-10 days. Guinea pigs and rabbits need time outside of their cages each day for exercise and play. You’ll want to animal proof their play area and be sure to watch them closely! A playpen works great. If they free roam in your home, be sure to remove or protect any cords, wires, or other hazards. Small animals have teeth that continuously grow! This is one of the reason hay is so essential for rabbits and guinea pigs, but toys can also help. Providing your small pet with toys will help with mental stimulation and teeth maintenance. Dry branches from untreated trees, wooden chew toys for birds, any unfinished, unpainted wicker or straw baskets are perfect chewing toys! Toilet paper/paper towel rolls, small empty cardboard cartons also work and are inexpensive. Hamsters have lots of energy and love to run it out on their exercise wheel! Just be sure it’s large enough so their back stays straight and is anchored so it won’t tip over. You can easily make sure your pet is feeling your love by providing plenty of space for their home and lots of soft, absorbent carefresh bedding to encourage nesting, playing and burrowing. Just spot-clean daily with a full refresh and deep clean every 7-10 days. Which is the perfect time to switch to a new color or theme! It’s fun to decorate their home for each season or holiday.  Now that you know more about caring and feeding your small pet, be sure to watch our other videos for other helpful information and tips from carefresh.    
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7 Top Reasons Why Cats Make Great Pets

Yes, cats do have a mind of their own but they can also be very fun and playful and are generally easier to care for than dogs or other pets.  1. Cats Are Wonderful Companions   Cats can be very independent but they also like to just hang out or sit on your lap and purr.  There is nothing better than a cat purring on your lap after a long day. Usually they are as affectionate and loving as dogs, as long as it's on their terms, and they don't require a walk every day. They are soft and fit perfectly in your lap.  2. Cats Are Great for Apartments Apartments are more likely to allow cats than dogs. They require less space and are generally fine with living in a smaller home without having to go outside.  Because cats use the litter box and don’t need to be taken outside to use the bathroom or to exercise, it is easy to keep a cat in upper-level apartments or even high-rises.  3. Cats Are Fairly Low-Maintenance Kitties are mostly self-sufficient since they don’t need to be taken outside multiple times a day for bathroom and exercise walks. This also means less dirty paw prints and cleaning. Plus, there's no need to spend a lot of time on training after they learn to use the litter box.  Though cats still need love and attention just like dogs, they don’t require quite as much interaction as dogs. A cat is content to curl up next to you while you work, while a dog may demand your undivided attention. Cats can also be left home by themselves for longer periods of time, even overnight, and are usually less likely to get into trouble while you are gone. Just make sure they aren't using your favorite sofa or chair as a scratching post! 4. Most Cats Do Not Need Regular Bathing or Grooming Because cats spend so much of their time grooming themselves, so you rarely need to bathe them. They don't roll around in stinky things or wade through mud puddles. Cats really do not like to be bathed and there is no need to take them to a groomer, unless they are a long hair cat, saving a lot of money.  5. Cats Can Do Their Business Inside Cats don’t need to be taken outside in the middle of the night to do their business. Cleaning a litterbox is not fun but it is still easier and than having to go outside at night or in pouring down rain and having to carry around little baggies to pick up waste. Using an easy to clean litter like okocat, makes cleaning the litterbox less of a chore, plus it lasts longer too.  Cats are small enough that they can get plenty of exercise indoors, especially if you have plenty of vertical spaces for your feline friend to climb.  5. Cats Are Easy to Litter Box Train Most kittens already know how to use the litter box as soon as you bring them home. Even cats that were born stray or feral instinctively know to bury their waste after going to the bathroom. Usually all you have to do is show her where the litter box is and show her how to dig in the (clean) litter using your own hand.  6. Cats Can Be Left Alone  Because cats don’t need to be taken outside to do their business every few hours, they can be left home alone all day. Cats are also less prone to separation anxiety, and can tolerate being home for longer periods of time without their human. Cats can even be left home alone for a couple days as long as leave enough food and water and have enough litter boxes. 7. Their Food is Cheaper Cats generally eat much less than dogs, especially larger dog breed and normally do not require special diets or treats or bones.  
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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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