Information and unique products for Dogs, Cats, Rabbits and Backyard Chickens

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs

Two of a Kind 

Rabbits reign supreme in the small-animal world, ranking number one in popularity among pet owners, while guinea pigs rank third. However, there are many similarities in the care of
these two species. Since the lifestyles of these animals are similar, they have many of the same needs for products and supplies. 

Proper Diet

Rabbits and guinea pigs are both herbivores, and their main diet should be a grass hay to make sure they have enough fiber in their diet to keep their digestive tracts functioning normally. 
Without enough hay in their diet, their molars can overgrow, causing pain and difficulty eating, and their intestines can become impacted. Timothy hay is the type most commonly sold for these animals to eat, but other grass hays work as well. Alfalfa hay is too high in protein and calcium to be fed on a
regular basis, but it can be offered in small amounts as a treat.

Rabbits and guinea pigs require species-specific food pellets, including one with added vitamin C for guinea pigs. However, both animals require similar feeding accessories. The best way to offer food pellets is in a food hopper or dish attached to the side of the cage. Attaching the
hopper or bowl to the cage prevents the animals from tipping the container over, and helps keep the pets from sitting in a dish and soiling the food.

Even though guinea pig food pellets include vitamin C, guinea pig owners should also buy vitamin C tablets to feed their pets by hand. Not only does this ensure the piggies get optimal nutrition, it encourages bonding between pigs and owners. My guinea pigs always felt that getting their vitamin C tablet was one of the highlights of their day.

Cage Accessories

Rabbits are burrowing animals and inherit from their wild ancestors the instinct to use one area of their habitat as a toilet. This makes rabbits easy to litter-box train, and every rabbit habitat should
include at least one litter box. Although guinea pigs do not have this same instinct, some may consistently use one corner as a bathroom. In this case, a corner litter pan can be placed there to make cage cleaning easier.

Both guinea pigs and rabbits need a bed or house to sleep and hide in. Wooden houses and plastic huts are traditionally marketed for these animals, but they also enjoy cozy fabric beds,
especially those lined with fake sheepskin. Amazingly, most of these animals will not chew on the fabric. However, owners should avoid any products that contain foam for these animals, because ingesting the foam can cause a fatal blockage.

Grooming Products


Both rabbits and guinea pigs, especially long-haired breeds, need to be brushed on a regular basis. For some long-haired varieties, a comb will work better than a brush. Generally, the longer the hair, the more spaceshould be between the tines of the comb or bristles of the brush.
Brushes with tightly packed bristles are only suitable for animals with very short, dense coats, and therefore, they are not suitable for rabbits or guinea pigs.  A grooming tool kit for rabbits and
guinea pigs should also include toenail clippers.

Guinea pigs occasionally need a bath, so owners should use a shampoo specifically for guinea pigs if possible, or at least one for small animals. Rabbits generally do not need to be bathed, both because of the density of their fur, and because they do a better job of grooming themselves. However, while grooming themselves, they can ingest large quantities of fur, resulting in hairballs in their stomach. If rabbits have enough fiber in their diet from grass hay, in most cases, the
ingested hair will be swept through the digestive tract by the hay. But retailers should also carry hairball remedy products that pet owners can use to help prevent problems.



Rabbits tend to be active animals that need to stretch their legs and have the opportunity to kick up their heels once in a while. It is becoming more popular for owners of house rabbits to give their pets the chance to runaround the house. Even guinea pigs are much more active than you might
think and love to run around, following each other like cars in a train.

Letting guinea pigs run around the house is more problematic as, unlike rabbits, most of them tend not to use a litter box. Therefore, it is more practical for guinea pig owners to use an exercise

by Debbie Ducommun December 29, 2014
Debbie Ducommun has a B.A. in animal behavior and has worked in the animal field since 1982. She is the author of the book Rats!, the booklet Rat Health Care and, her most recent book, The Complete Guide to Rat Training: Tricks and Games for Rat Fun and Fitness.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Refresh a Dirty Chicken Coop with these Easy Green Tips

"Fresh Eggs Daily" is author Lisa Steele's guide to raising healthy chickens naturally, which includes feeding them a diet of herbs, flowers, and greens.
Cover Courtesy St. Lynn's Press

Learn to treat your flock to a diet rich in a variety of herbs, greens, and flowers with Fresh Eggs Daily (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013). Lisa Steele offers dozens of simple, intelligent, and easy green tips for “going natural” that help you avoid common ailments that plague many backyard flocks. This excerpt from “In the Winter” features two recipes for refreshing and cleaning a chicken coop.
You can purchase this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: Fresh Eggs Daily.

Refresh a Dirty Chicken Coop with these Easy Green Tips

I have developed an all-natural refreshing spray for chicken coops that combines the rodent-repelling and insecticide properties of mint with soothing lavender in a white vinegar base (for both disinfecting and antibacterial qualities). Easy and inexpensive to make, a bottle stored in your coop and used any time your coop needs a bit of a refresh will help keep your coop sanitized and rodent free.

You can also substitute vodka for the white vinegar in the following recipes. Why use vodka for cleaning? Vodka is another fine natural cleanser. It not only repels insects, it actually kills them. It is antibacterial and kills mold and mildew. As an added benefit, vodka is odorless, unlike white vinegar, which has a distinctive smell.


Lavender Mint Coop Refresh Spray

Handful of fresh mint
Handful of fresh lavender leaves and/or bud
Bottle of white vinegar (or inexpensive vodka)
2 one-pint canning jars
Spray bottle

Divide the herbs between two canning jars, crushing them a bit with your fingers as you add each sprig to release the essential oils. Add white vinegar or vodka to each jar to completely cover, leaving at least 1/4 inch headroom in each jar. Screw on the lids and then set the jars in your pantry or on the kitchen counter to age. Shake the jars every few days to mix the contents.

The mixture will start to turn a greenish-brown color and smell fragrant in a week or two, indicating that the spray is ready to use. Strain the contents into a spray bottle. Spray in your coop as needed to keep it smelling fresh.


For Cleaning a Chicken Coop, Follow These Easy Green Tips

While a quick refresh results in a fragrant coop, take care that you are not merely masking any true odors that should be attended to. Any whiff of ammonia should be cause for a thorough cleaning. Chicken droppings emit ammonia and the fumes can irritate your hens’ eyes and mucous membranes. Many chicken keepers will tend to reach for the bleach as a coop cleaner, but mixing ammonia and bleach, as you may know, can result in toxic fumes. A far better alternative is this natural orange peel and white vinegar coop cleaner.

White vinegar, as mentioned above, is a natural disinfectant with antibacterial properties. It kills mold and is an ant repellent. Caution: Although apple cider vinegar has wonderful health benefits, which will be discussed later in the book, it should never be used for cleaning, because it will attract fruit flies. 

My coop cleaner includes orange peels. Citrus oil is a natural insect repellent and proven solvent, making it perfect for scrubbing your roosting bars. I add cinnamon sticks to the cleaner because cinnamon oil kills mosquito larvae. 

Mosquitoes can spread fowl pox, a disease that causes black spots on hens’ combs. I also add vanilla beans to repel flies, mosquitoes and other insects. As in the preceding recipe, vodka can be substituted for the vinegar in this recipe if you wish.


Orange Peel White Vinegar Coop Cleaner

4 oranges (or 6 limes, 5 lemons, 2 grapefruit — or a mix)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans
Bottle of white vinegar (or inexpensive vodka)
2 one-pint canning jars
Spray bottle

Peel the citrus and divide the peels between two canning jars. Break the cinnamon sticks in half and add to the jars. Slit each vanilla bean and add to the jars. Pour enough white vinegar or vodka into each jar to completely cover the peels, leaving at least 1/4 inch headroom in each jar. Screw on the lids and then set the jars in your pantry or on the kitchen counter to age. Shake the jars every few days to mix the contents. 

The mixture will start to turn an orangish-tan color and smell fragrant in a week or two, indicating that the spray is ready to use. Strain the contents into a spray bottle to use full strength for scrubbing roosts or nesting boxes, or mix with water to scrub the coop floor and walls. The cinnamon stick and vanilla bean can be reused for a second batch, but use fresh citrus peels. (This cleaner also makes a wonderful all-natural non-chemical kitchen cleaner.

Reprinted with permission from Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chicks…Naturally by Lisa Steele and published by St. Lynn’s Press, 2013. Buy this book from our store: Fresh Eggs Daily.

Monday, December 8, 2014

KittyNest: Brilliant Use of Materials

Introducing KittyNest: Brilliant Use of Materials

Here’s a brand new concept in modern cat furniture, and I have one word — BRILLIANT! It’s from the designers at Paper Lion, a new company making modern, eco-friendly cat products. This is one of the most innovative uses of material I’ve seen in the cat product industry.

The KittyNest appears to be made from a honeycomb paper material that looks like something cats would completely love. Because of the flexible nature of the material, this took some really creative thinking to make it work for cats. By stretching the honeycomb material over a wire frame, you create a beautiful piece of cat furniture that serves as a lounge, hideaway and scratcher. It’s so simple and so elegant. Plus, when kitty has had her way with it, all the parts of the KittyNest can be easily recycled.

The KittyNest just completed a successful Indie Gogo fundraising campaign and they hope to be in production by the end of the year.


December 16, 2012 by


The top 10 best Cat Trees

Cat Trees

The top 10 best Cat Trees Dec 2014 by