Sunday, August 23, 2015

Product Review: Oxbow Simple Rewards Baked Treats with Bell Pepper

We're continuing on in our quest to try the new types of Simple Rewards treats from Oxbow. We already tried the Apple and Banana kind and the Carrot and Dill kind. Today we're reviewing Oxbow Simple Rewards Baked Treats with Bell Pepper. One of our readers commented that they liked this kind in particular, so we were particularly excited to give it a try. (We're also fans of bell peppers, which added to our excitement.)

Regarding treats like this, please keep in mind that they are only supposed to be a tiny part of our diets, if they are fed at all. Fruits and veggies also make fine treats. But just as humans like their cookies, even though they aren't a necessary part of their diet, it's fun to indulge a bit every once in a while. If you're not using Oxbow treats, however, you better take a very close look at the ingredients. There's some real junk out there.
This is delightful! Sitting on a comfy pillow, eating delicious treats...
The humans gave us the royal treatment when we tried this one. They put us each on a pillow individually and fed us the treats. And the verdict? They were just as good as the commenter on the previous post said they were!

Oxbow Simple Rewards Baked Treats with Bell Pepper gets 5/5 stars!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Guinea Pig Grieving

Even though it is often said that time heals all wounds, the loss of Lola still makes us sad. Immediately after losing her, Buffy and I had been sleeping close to each other in the little cage, when we usually slept separately in our own pigloos. As social animals, many of us will take the loss of our cavy companions pretty hard, although this can vary from pig to pig.

Here's some advice on how you can support your piggies while we grieve:
  • Regularly monitor your guinea pig's weight while they grieve; once per day for at least a week after the loss is recommended. Some pigs may stop eating.
  • Consider adopting another guinea pig from a rescue or shelter, especially if you are down to just one guinea pig. A happy, healthy guinea pig may help cheer up a depressed guinea pig. Some guinea pigs may not accept another cage mate if left alone too long on their own.
  • Try to spend extra time with your grieving piggies.
  • Thoroughly clean the cage and everything in the cage to remove the smell of the lost companion. (This is especially a good idea if the deceased had something communicable.) 
  • Changing up your cage configuration and feeding routine can be helpful according to some.
  • Some guinea pigs may enjoy having a plush animal companion. (However, you'll want to make sure we don't chew up our plush toys. The stuffing can be harmful.)
Finally, keep in mind that we can support you as you support us. When you feel sad about losing your piggy, we'll be happy to sit in your lap and commiserate with you. (Buffy is still likely to nip your fingers if you try to commiserate for too long, though. Some things never change!)

Product Review: KMS Hayloft Bluegrass Hay

Our hearts are still aching from the loss of Lola. It just won't be the same reviewing products and answering questions without her, but we'll try our best to continue on. We're sure she'd want us to keep the blog that she worked so hard on going. Just an FYI, this was the last post we were working on before her untimely passing, which is why there's a picture of her in this one.

Readers probably know that when it comes to hay, Oxbow and Small Pet Select tend to be our favorite brands. But did you know that there's another brand of hay out there that tends to be highly-regarded by reputable guinea pig sites? They're called KMS Hayloft (formerly known as Kleenmama), and they're mail-order only. We actually reviewed them before, but it was several years back so we had to remind ourselves what we had said. It looks like it was so different from the store brand hay we were used to at the time that we weren't sure whether we wanted to eat it or not, and held off on reviewing it.

KMS  Hayloft sells two types of hay: Timothy and Bluegrass. They were out of timothy when we had the humans order, and I don't think we've ever tried bluegrass, so we went with that. We actually hadn't heard of bluegrass before (it wasn't listed on our hay post), so we checked their website and found more information about it:

"The beautiful hay we carry called 'bluegrass' is actually a hybrid seed my farmer has developed. It is an orchard/bluegrass seed. For those of you that are used to orchard grass, this will be similar except it has a beautiful blue/green color. After viewing more that 30 farms and countless hays, it just didn't do justice to call my hay 'orchard', so I have chosen to call it 'bluegrass'. It is a wide bladed, leafy variety that is soft and pliable. Nutritionally, it is equivalent to orchard grass."

This is what KMS Hayloft's bluegrass hay looks like.
Keep in mind that guinea pigs need to have a grass hay, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a timothy hay. There are some slight nutritional differences between grass hays, but generally not enough to make much of a difference. (Remember, legume hays, such as alfalfa hay, are a different story, however! These should not be part of an adult guinea pig's diet in most cases.)

Lola seemed to enjoy it! (Poor Lola... We miss her!)
Bluegrass is fragrant and delicious. Our only issue with it is that it doesn't have any seed heads, which is our favorite part! But, if you want to mix some bluegrass with timothy hay, you could then mix things up without missing out on the seed heads.

Some of you may be wondering: How does KMS Hayloft compare with Small Pet Select? Well, let's do a comparison:
  • In terms of price, Small Pet Select seems to have higher list prices. For example, at the moment, Small Pet Select has 20 pounds of 2nd cut timothy hay for $44.99 ($2.25 per pound) and 60 pounds for $84.99 ($1.42 per pound), while KMS Hayloft has 40 pounds of 2nd cut timothy hay for $28.00 ($0.70 per pound). So at first glance, it sounds like KMS Hayloft gives you more for less. However, this is only before you factor in shipping! On this order of KMS Hayloft hay, it cost $32 for shipping, roughly as much as the order costs, and bringing the cost up to about $1.50 per pound. However, they were shipping from the west coast to the east cost, so the rate would probably have been cheaper if we lived closer to them. Small Pet Select, on the other hand, usually offers free shipping if you subscribe to their newsletters and find the weekly code in each one. (Even if you don't have a code, they offer free shipping on orders over $40.) If you're a cost-conscious hay buyer, you may want to get a free code for Small Pet Select, determine the shipping cost for KMS Hayloft where you live, and then calculate the price per pound for each to figure out the better deal for you.
    • We should also point out that Small Pet Select has a "schedule & save" discount of 15% if you're willing to commit to having hay automatically ordered on a regular basis. If you're willing to do this, you should also take this into account when figuring out the best deal.
  • In terms of shipping, they use different companies in case you have a preference; Small Pet Select uses FedEx, while KMS Hayloft uses UPS. A Consumer Reports study found FedEx to be a little better than UPS for what that's worth.  They also ship from different locations; KMS Hayloft ships from Spokane, WA, while Small Pet Select ships from Louisville, KY. How close or far these locations are to you will probably affect the shipping speed as well as the cost. Finally, we should point out that in our most recent orders, Small Pet Select took 1 day to ship the hay from the order date, while KMS Hayloft took 2 days.
  • In terms of quality, we have no complaints about either one.
In summary, both Small Pet Select and KMS Hayloft are good options. We'd probably go with Small Pet Select if we're running low and need the hay in a hurry to avoid running out, but otherwise, it's kind of a toss-up.

We'll give KMS Hayloft Bluegrass Hay 4.5/5 stars!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Goodbye, Lola

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of Lola's passing this morning. After losing weight for several months, battling an eye injury, combating several UTIs, and passing a bladder stone, she has made the trip over the rainbow bridge. Due to a combination of weight loss and passing the stone, she developed sepsis very quickly, leading to a very sad vet visit this morning.

While we are heartbroken over her loss, we try to remember the good times we had with her. From when she was first brought home and introduced to Annie (who bit her ear and left her with a lifelong reminder), she had been the fiesty one of the bunch. When the water bottle broke and stopped up, Lola was the one to save us by shrieking until the humans realized what was wrong. Lola was always down for a snuggle or pet, was very good about not peeing on the humans when being held, and was an adventurous eater who loved trying new foods, treats, and products.

This has been a rough weekend for Lola, having had to be brought into the vet several times. During one last happy moment two nights ago, Lola was being especially affectionate with the humans, nuzzling and licking them for almost an hour. She seemed grateful that she could have one last good time with her piggie and human family.

We appreciate all your support and condolences. Knowing that Lola shared her life not only with us and the humans, but with the tens of thousands of readers who log on to Cavy Savvy each month brings us some measure of comfort.

If you have enjoyed reading about Lola on this blog, please let us know in the comments. It would mean a lot.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Ask A Guinea Pig: How Do Guinea Pigs Get UTIs?

It's time for another installment of Ask A Guinea Pig! Today, Christina asks: "Did the vet say how guinea pigs can get a UTI?"

Answer: When the humans brought me in and the vet diagnosed me with a UTI, the conversation was more focused on treatment options going forward. However, you raise a good question, so we will do our best to answer it!

We should point out that there are actually a few similar, related urinary tract conditions that are relatively common problems for guinea pigs:

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is when the urinary tract gets infected, most commonly by E. Coli, but sometimes from other viruses and fungi. For guinea pigs, the reason this usually happens is a combination of our short legs and contact with wet bedding and droppings.

Bladder stones are hard accumulations of calcium carbonate (90%+ of the time) or calcium oxalate that form in the bladder. Stones can be especially dangerous in male piggies because they can block the flow of urine more easily than they do for females. The cause of bladder stones is not well-understood, but factors that contribute to bladder stones include:
  • Bad diet - A good diet of grass hay, fresh vegetables, and reasonable servings of low-calcium pellets are important. Too much calcium and oxalates may lead to stones.
  • Insufficient water - Drinking plenty of water can dilute the urine and prevent stone formation.
  • Obesity
  • Genetics
Bladder sludge refers to gritty, calcium particles that form in the bladder. The sludge can form into stones if left untreated. Think of bladder sludge as the early stages of bladder stones; both are caused by the same factors. Bladder sludge and smaller stones may be able to be passed through the urinary tract.

Sometimes stones and sludge are found alongside infections, and sometimes not. Stones and sludge might lead to a UTI, but we've never heard anyone suggest that UTIs can lead to stone or sludge.