Oxbow Hay Company 29012 Mill Road Murdock, Nebraska 68407 800.249.0366 www.oxbowhay.com
Oxbow is a great source for various types of grass hays. They carry Western Timothy, Orchard Grass, Oat, Organic Meadow Hay, and Botanical Hay on their site under the product section marked “Hay.” Try ordering their first cut timothy or ask for their best batch for prairie dogs and they will know what to ship. Oxbow’s timothy hay is generally far superior to most pet store bagged hays or even feed store hays. It is usually very fresh, green, fragrant, and full of flowers. I order a 25 lb. box and store it in a cool, DRY place, monitoring it for mold. A box of that size typically feeds two prairie dogs for a couple of months, if stored properly. I will also buy a 9 lb. box of oat hay for those older adult prairie dogs that have never been exposed to hay, that have been on medication that is impacting appetite, or are geriatric in age and will mix it in various ratios with the assistance of individualized consultation depending on what the individual prairie dog may need.
I personally keep my hay in the garage, safe from pests that can nest in it, and away from chemicals, with the box open to let it breathe, preventing mold growth. Some people will keep their hay in a large Rubbermaid trashcan container with holes in the lid so it can breathe.
Offering different hay types may provide a treat due to variety; however, some prairie dogs don’t care for anything but timothy. Keep in mind that their tastes do change from time to time. Another way to encourage high hay intake is to discard soiled and uneaten hay daily, replenishing with a fresh supply. Over time I’ve also learned that not all hay is quality hay and there is a lot of variation. The larger hay bundles often are better quality than the smaller ones. My prairie dogs refuse to eat the hay from small pet store bags, and will often use it as a latrine, so I have to plan ahead.
In the fortified feeds section of Oxbow’s website, products worth trying as a supplemental treat include: Hay Cakes, Oxbow Essentials – Adult Rabbit, and Oxbow Essentials – Young Rabbit pellets for lactating mothers and pups. Most prairie dogs enjoy their pellets quite a bit when mixed with their daily treats. On rare occasion, some prairie dogs will have difficulty eating any type of pellet feed because they are too complex due to the differing binding agents used to make them. Ask me more about this if you have any questions about what to look for as far as symptoms in your pet. Pellets, hay cakes, and many other treats can lead to obesity if overdone, so watch your prairie dog’s daily intake and follow recommended ratios of hay and treats.
Oxbow’s recommended daily serving of hay cakes, and pellets is not an amount I would recommend when given with other treats. If my prairie dogs ate the amount they recommend, they would be ready to explode!
Something to consider in your purchase is the price of shipping. If you are on the east coast, it is inexpensive when compared to shipping to the west coast where the shipping costs alone will be more than the food! If you’re on the west coast, it can be a little costly coming from Nebraska and can take more time too. Plan ahead when ordering so that you don’t have to resort to expensive pet store hay while waiting for delivery. There are some local retailers that also sell some of Oxbow’s products (Oxbow Essentials – Adult Rabbit), or look online to find a list of retailers near you. Sometimes Oxbow’s hay quality can wane as their prime growing season comes to an end. Early spring is typically when the best is available although sometimes they have a fresh crop late season too. I will order from American Pet Diner if my hay quality changes due to end of season availability.
Another important Oxbow product to note is called, Critical Care, found under the professional line section of the site. It is a high fiber, syringe formula for prairie dogs and other herbivores that are unwilling to eat their typical diet due to illness, convalescing from surgery, or have poor nutritional health. It has all the nutrients necessary to provide a complete diet and is combined with plenty of powdered, high quality timothy hay to promote proper gut motility and digestion and prevent stasis. This product has proven to be very useful in helping restore an ailing prairie dogs appetite and aiding in the reestablishment of healthy bacteria to a jeopardized immune system from antibiotic use (when combined with a beneficial probiotic regimen). Critical Care product has been highly received by many of the veterinarians I work with and has proven to be an important tool to regaining proper health. Something to note is that this product is designed only to be used in conjunction with veterinary care and will only be sold with your confirmed veterinarian’s information. If your vet is not aware of this product’s benefits, please feel free to have him/her call Oxbow direct or they can call me about it as well.
It is vital that a prairie dog be given a probiotic throughout the course and for up to two weeks following any antibiotic use in order to rebuild their natural immune system to fight off future illnesses. There are a few different probios products and Bene-Bac is widely used with prairie dogs. Poop therapy in the form of healthy fecal matter from other prairie dogs (that have had a flot verifying they are clear) works best of all but isn’t always possible.
Healthy Handfuls was not designed for prairie dogs and therefore should not be given routinely but only on rare occasion to avoid long term health issues. Give a piece 3-4 times a year as a special treat.
I DO NOT recommend providing: FIBRevive, Eco-Straw Litter (I’ve had some reports of prairie dogs eating it), Organic Barley Biscuits, Organic Rabbit, Organic Guinea Pig, Regal Rat, Cavy Cuisine, Cavy Performance, or Chinchilla Deluxe, Daily C, Papaya Fruit Plus, and the Simple Rewards Strawberry, Banana, Timothy, or Veggie Treats.
Oxbow is a great company to work with that is cares about long term animal health. They have a fairly easy return policy if you aren’t satisfied with your order.
Brisky Pet Products 5551 Dutch Hill Road Hinsdale, New York 14743-9728 800.462.2464 www.brisky.com
Select the All Pets option on their website and look at the wide selection of prairie dog related items under the Prairie Dog link that Brisky’s has to offer. The people at Brisky’s are great to work with, very friendly, caring, and open to your input. Their site contains some fun prairie dog merchandise for owners as well.
*Note: All fruit and vegetable treats referenced below are dried, dehydrated, or processed in some manner.
Brisky’s offers the following treats that I would recommend in limited amounts based on an adult diet: Beet Pellets, Carrot Pieces, Prairie Dog Oats, Prairie Pride, Sweet Potato Bits, Timothy Hay Cubes, Garden of Eatin Wheat Grass, and Timothy Hay Pellets. Many people are also raving about Prairie Pride and their kids response to it, please be careful, this is a treat! They seem to really like the stuff. On rare occasion as a special treat, such as a holiday, or 3-4 times per year you could give a Veggie Chip.
I really like Brisky’s Prairie Dog Oats because they are natural and contain no preservatives or added sugars. They also provide a great, healthy way to help your prairie dog gain weight. Weight loss can be a concern when a prairie dog is ill, recovering from surgery, or is geriatric. This normally isn’t a concern for the average young adult prairie dog although I will tell people to keep a limited supply on hand, just in case it’s needed. They love them, too!
An alternative protein source to the vegetarian dog kibble for your prairie dog could be in the form of bugs and Brisky has a few types to try if you are interested: Freeze Dried Crickets, Meal Worms, and Wax Worms. I would suggest ordering a free sample from their site before committing to the expense of an entire container to determine if your prairie dog likes them. Some prefer live insects to dead ones on occasion to supplement protein. Plus, they will simply catch live insects buzzing around just as other animals do.
If you have a female prairie dog that you suspect may be pregnant, Brisky’s sells an easy to clean, galvanized nesting box that is safe with no sharp edges. This nesting box is essential since it allows the mother and pups some privacy after birth and during lactation, and the mother can get out as needed while the pups stay contained and accounted for. It also enables you to add food and allows adequate ventilation.
They also supply some nice water bottles, hay bins, crocks, and other feeders. Brisky’s carries a larger 15” exercise wheel for your cage than most stores which fits a prairie dog’s adult size with no problem. If you choose to use the Super Thru-Way, be extremely vigilant and supervise when in use that they do not chew and ingest any pieces.
Personally, I DO NOT recommend the following Brisky treats specified for prairie dogs on their website: Alfalfa Jumbo Pellets, Apple Pellets, Apricots, Banana Chips, Blueberries, Carob Drops, Cherries, Coconut Dices, Corn Nibbles, Ferret Liver Treats, Gold Dust, Golden Wheels, Green Peas, Mango, Orchard Sweets, Papaya, Peanut Bugger, Peanut Meal, Pineapple Dices, Raisins, Salt Spools, Rose Hips, Spinach Flakes, Critter Cookies, Brisky Milk Replacer, Brisky Magic, Brisky Pet Vitamins, Chewable Milk, Cuttlebone, Egg Food, Furovite, Prozyme, Taurine, or Yogurt Delights. I also would not use the Prairie Dog Protein Nuggets due to their dried corn content since other non-corn products are available as referenced in other materials.
I also would not recommend the following other products from their site they say are for prairie dogs: B-Calm, Brisky Bitters, Chew-Chew Blocks, Chinchilla Chew Log, Grass and Willow Bunny Roll, Hamster Hut, Cozy Keet, Mouse Chew House, Prairie Dog Chew Log, Wonder Webbing, Tree Branch, Willow “Chew” Ring, Fur-N-Fiber, B-Dry Pet Litter, Fuzzy Buddy Bed N Bedding, B-Fresh Odor Control, Eucalyptus Pet Litter/Bedding, Bi-Odor, Dry Bath, Prairie Dog Flea Spray (take to the vet if you suspect fleas), and none of the willow branches, wood, or plastic items due to safety issues.
Brisky’s also sells the book, Bringing a Prairie Dog Pup Into Your Home. This is a great basic guide for prairie dog owners; however, often people will take what they read in a book as an absolute and when it concerns a living creature, this can have disastrous results. With prairie dogs and other animals, individual characteristics unique to each animal, its environment, resources available, and more must be taken into account and sometimes what is recommended in books simply does not apply to the multitude of variables that can occur. That is why individual consultations that consider all aspects of your pet and the many variables of each incident work best.
They sell hay too but it isn’t an item they push to sell or mainly market like Oxbow or American Pet Diner. I have never been impressed with their hay. Brisky’s website also has some fun pet related artwork and prairie dog merchandise that you don’t see in stores locally.