Why Guinea Pigs Need Vitamin C

Guinea pigs are wonderful pets that are a joy to observe and interact with, and they have something in common with us humans that no other companion pet does! Did you know that guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C in their bodies like most other animals do? Just like humans, they have to get it through their food. As a responsible piggie parent, it’s your job to ensure that your guinea pig’s diet meets their unique nutritional requirements, and we’re here to teach you all about it!

Why is Vitamin C so Important?
The body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a building block for all kinds of different issues. This means that vitamin C plays an important role in keeping skin, joints, gums, and the whole immune system healthy and helping wounds heal.

What Happens if Guinea Pigs Don’t Get Enough Vitamin C?
Most guinea pigs need between 10 and 30mg of vitamin C per day to maintain good health. Any excess that is not required will be excreted through the urine and will not be absorbed through the body. Piggies who are still growing, pregnant, nursing, or sick may require extra vitamin C in their diet as recommended by your veterinarian.

Deficiency in vitamin C is generally referred to as ‘scurvy’ and in guinea pigs, will typically present itself as the following symptoms:

  • Poor coat
  • Swelling and ulcers on the skin or gums/mouth area
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Swollen joints and difficulty moving
  • Lethargy
  • Issues with wound healing

How do you Supplement Vitamin C in the Diet?
While a guinea pig’s diet should include around 80% hay, a portion of formulated guinea pig food, as well as fresh vegetables and fruit, must be fed daily to supplement them with the required vitamin C.

  • Packaged Food: Guinea pig food you buy at the store should be of good quality and contain high amounts of vitamin C in a stabilized form. Vitamin C is considered a relatively “unstable” vitamin, meaning it will break down over time, especially if exposed to light, heat, and moisture. Because of this, your guinea pig may not receive the amount of vitamin C listed on the bag. It is always recommended to follow the manufacturer’s “best before” recommendation and try to feed the entire bag of food within 90 days after opening to ensure that your guinea pig does not become deficient. It is also important to monitor whether or not your piggie is eating all the food given to them. Many mixed guinea pig foods contain “extras” such as dried fruit, seeds and nuts alongside the fortified pellets containing added vitamin C. However, these pellets are typically the least appealing to guinea pigs, and they will often pick out the “extras,” leaving the nutritionally balanced pellets behind. Our experts recommend feeding your guinea pigs a purely pelleted formulation to ensure that they consume the required vitamins and nutrients. Check out our selection of quality guinea pig food options in store!
  • Vegetables & Fruit: Besides pellets, the other primary source of vitamin C for guinea pigs is fresh vegetables and occasionally fruit. Feed a portion of veggies that are high in vitamin C each day, such as leafy greens, but be cautious not to overfeed veggies or fruits that are high in sugar (leads to obesity or intestinal issues) or high in calcium (guinea pigs are predisposed to bladder stones). Check this detailed chart to help you decide which fruits and veggies are safe for your guinea pigs: https://guineadad.com/blogs/news/guineadad-veggie-masterlist-what-kinds-of-vegetables-can-your-guinea-pig-eat

At Feeds ‘n Needs, we think your animals deserve the best, and that’s why we are proud to offer top-quality nutrition solutions for pets of all sizes! Stop by your local Feeds ‘n Needs, and one of our experts can show you our selection of guinea pig foods your piggie will be sure to love! We are always happy to answer any questions you may have!

Are you interested in learning more about small animals? Check out our related blog posts!
Small Animal Dental Health

Tapping Maple Trees for Sap
Tapping Maple Trees for Sap

Tapping Maple Trees for Sap

There comes a time of year when the days begin to get warmer, and hope for spring is in the air. After a long, cold winter, these are the days we look forward to. The snow begins to melt, and the sap starts to flow within the trees. For many families in Canada, tapping trees in the springtime is an eagerly awaited annual tradition and an easy and fun way to collect sap to make homemade maple goodies.

Getting Started

Generally, sap begins to flow when the daytime temperatures rise above freezing (0 Celsius / 32 Fahrenheit) and nighttime temperatures fall below freezing. Typically, the season runs for 4-6 weeks, from around mid-February to mid-March. Sap only flows on warm days, so you may not get any on colder days.

Tapping trees is a relatively straightforward process and only requires a few supplies to get started:

  • Power drill & drill bit
  • Spiles
  • Sap buckets & lids
  • Hammer

Some of our local Feeds’n Needs stores carry a great selection of quality sap supplies; be sure to check them out!

Before tapping trees each season, it is important to ensure your supplies are clean. A solution of 1 part unscented household bleach to 20 parts clean water can be used to clean your spiles, buckets, and lids.

Selecting Trees to Tap

When selecting which trees to tap, a maple tree with a high sugar content will produce the best sap for making syrup. Popular maple trees for tapping are sugar, black, red, and silver maples. Select healthy and mature trees with a diameter of at least 12″. Depending on the size, some trees can support more than one tap.

A general guide to follow when tapping trees:

  • 12 – 20” = 1 tap
  • 21 – 27” = 2 taps
  • 27” = 3 taps

How to Tap Trees

Spile Placement: When tapping a tree, place your spile at least 3 feet from the ground and at least 6 inches away from any former tap holes. Tap above a large root or below a branch on the south side of the tree if possible, and if placing multiple taps on one tree, distribute the spiles around the tree’s circumference.

Drill a Hole: Most spiles require a 7/16 or 5/16 drill bit, but double-check to ensure that you use a drill bit that matches the size of your spile. Drill a hole about 2 to 2 ½ inches deep so that you hit the sapwood of the tree. Drill slightly upward to allow the sap to flow downward through your spile and into your bucket.

Insert Your Spile: Insert your spile into the tap hole you drilled. Then, gently tap the spile into place using a hammer so that it fits snugly within the hole. Once the spile is placed, you should begin to see sap start to drip or flow. Maple sap is clear and resembles water.

Hang Your Bucket: Hang your sap bucket by inserting the hook on the spile into the hole in the bucket’s rim. Attach a lid to prevent unwanted snow or debris from collecting in the bucket with your sap.

Sap can be collected until the temperature consistently stays above freezing or when buds begin to form on trees. Remove spiles and wash them to be stored for next season.

Once you collect your sap, keep it cold at 38 degrees Fahrenheit or 3.3 degrees Celsius until you boil it. Sap can be stored for up to 7 days at this temperature.

Now that you’ve learned how to tap trees to collect maple sap, you are well on your way to becoming an expert and enjoying this beloved Canadian tradition. Feel free to ask your local Feeds’ n Needs experts any questions you may have about tree tapping and sap collection. Be sure to check out our great selection of supplies to get you started!

Pet Obesity Awareness
Pet Obesity Awareness

Pet Obesity Awareness

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day takes place every year in October. It is a day to remind people to keep their pets healthy. Obesity is the #1 health risk for pets. Now is the perfect time to start focusing on your pet’s weight. When your cat or dog starts to look a little plump, you know it is time for a few things – more walks, fewer table scraps, and perhaps even an additional visit to your vet. Here is why it is important to maintain your pet’s weight and why it should be your number one priority!

Pet obesity is well-known for causing the following:
– Chronic inflammation
– Reduced life expectancy
– Weakened immune system
– Cardiac diseases
– Joint problems
– Diabetes
– Respiratory disorders
– Cancer
– Metabolic disorders
– Kidney dysfunction
– Poor quality of life

You can use several strategies if your cat or dog has put on some weight.

  • Portion Control: Measure your pet’s food.
  • Calorie Deficit Diet: Prefer feeding a low-carb, low-fat diet.
  • Fibres: Add more fibres to their diet to help keep them fuller for longer.
  • No Unhealthy Treats: Give only healthy and natural treats such as Crumps Sweet Potato chews – available at your local Feeds’n Needs.
  • Regular Exercise: More walks and exercise help burn extra fat.
  • Dry Food/Wet Food: Wet pet food has a higher water content, which promotes feeling full.

If you’ve tried all these strategies and your pet is still not showing any signs of losing weight, visit or call your veterinarian for the best suggestions.

Use the charts below to help you recognize pet obesity. If you think your pet might be overweight, visit your local Feeds’n Needs and ask our Experts what treats and food might be best for your furry friend!

How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden
How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden

How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden

Not ready to give up gardening for the season? Start your own indoor herb garden! A herb garden will ensure you always have fresh herbs on hand. It’s as simple as understanding the plant’s requirements and making sure to give them what they need. Check out our step-by-step guide to learn how to grow your own indoor herb garden successfully!

Pick the Right Plants
Most herbs can be grown indoors, but ones that tend to thrive the most inside include basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme. First-time herb growers should select three to five herbs to keep the garden manageable. You can start herbs from seeds or cutting, but you may find it much easier and faster to start with seedlings. The best herbs for you will depend on the ones you plan to use while cooking.

Select a Container with Drainage
You can plant herbs in just about any container as long as it has some drainage. You should also have something underneath your pot, like a saucer or round plastic protector.

Choose a Sunny Spot
Most herbs prefer a lot of sunlight. You’ll want to give your indoor herb garden at least six hours of sun daily to thrive. It is best to place your herbs as close to your brightest windows as possible. Growth in the winter season can be slower as there isn’t as much natural light. You can invest in a grow light or LED light to help ensure your plants get enough light.
Herbs grown in strong, bright light will have the best flavour! A bright, sunny window or sunroom is the ideal location for growing herbs indoors.

Water – But Not Too Much
Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged to ensure your plants grow successfully. A small watering can, or a drizzle under the sink will do the job. If you notice the leaves of your plants turning yellow or wilting, scale back the water amount. Pour out any excess water that collects in the tray or saucer they’re sitting in.

Harvest a Little at a Time
Pinch off a few leaves with your fingers. Regular cutbacks encourage new growth. Be careful not to remove more than a quarter of the plant at a time, as this can cause distress to your herbs.

Transplant When Ready
If you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, growth seems to have stalled, or the plant starts to flop over, it’s time to transplant to give your plants more space to grow.

Visit your local Feeds’n Needs to stock up on your herb seeds and gardening necessities and get to planting! You’ll have fresh and delicious herbs at your fingertips in no time!

Sources:
10 Important Tips to Create your own Indoor Herb Garden (howtoculinaryherbgarden.com)
How to Plant an Indoor Herb Garden (eatingwell.com)

Top 5 Favourite Pumpkin Products for Fall Blog

Top 5 Favourite Pumpkin Products for Fall

It is officially fall, which means… Pumpkin Spice Season! Our furry friends should be able to join us while we enjoy Pumpkin Spice everything!

Pumpkin is a superfood for dogs. It contains essential micronutrients and fibre, making it a very nutritious treat for our pets. Besides being a natural stomach soother, pumpkin also helps to remove excess water in a dog’s digestive tract.

Check out our top 5 favourite pumpkin products for fall that your dogs can enjoy!

Northern Biscuit Pumpkin Pie

1. Northern Biscuit, Pumpkin Pie Treat

Excellent for sensitive stomachs and overall digestive health, a superfood immune booster! Topped with cinnamon, this vegan recipe is loved by all dogs. Baked in small batches with limited ingredients. At only 18 calories per 5g biscuit, these are perfect for treating, rewarding and bonding with your dog!

Crumps Plaque Buster Pumpkin Spice Treat

2. Crumps Plaque Buster, Pumpkin Spice Treat

Every Pumpkin Spice Plaque Buster contains all-natural pumpkin spice, sweet potato, citrus pulp, and coconut oil. It’s a truly unique treat that assists in turning the scent of your dog’s breath into the smell of a colourful autumn breeze.

Oven Baked Tradition Chicken and Pumpkin Treat

3. Oven Baked Tradition, Chicken and Pumpkin Treat

Whether to help with training or simply to make them happy, Oven Baked Tradition Chicken and Pumpkin Treat is an all-natural grain-free soft and chewy chicken & pumpkin dog treat that is low in calories. These chicken & pumpkin dog treats contain real chicken that they simply won’t be able to resist!

Big Country Raw Frozen Goat Yogurt in Pumpkid

4. Big Country Raw Frozen Goat Yogurt, Pumpkid

A decadent frozen yogurt treat your pet is sure to love! Frozen Goat is made with raw goat milk yogurt, fruit puree and agar from 100% natural, thick and creamy treat. Big Country Raw’s frozen yogurt is cold fermented and naturally full of probiotics that are great for your furry friend’s gut health.

Wholesome Blend

5. Wholesome Blend Grain Free Dog Food

  • Digestive Care Turkey & Pumpkin
  • Healthy Weight Turkey & Pumpkin
  • Mobility Care Salmon & Pumpkin
  • Skin & Coat Care Salmon & Pumpkin

Our Wholesome Blend Grain Free line is made with fresh pumpkin. Complete and balanced grain-free diets, providing moderate levels of protein and fat to encourage a healthy weight. Diets that are formulated for all life stages – from puppy through adulthood.

Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

Raw food diets for cats and dogs are becoming more popular! Many people are choosing to feed their pets a raw diet because it is more natural and less processed than kibble. Others feed raw due to the many health benefits of a raw food diet. Here are some of the top reasons you should make the switch to raw:

    1. Joint and Bone Health
      The best way to support bones is with bones! Real crushed bone is a natural source of calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen and marrow. These components result in healthy growth in puppies and maintain superior joint and bone health for your dog throughout its lifetime.
    2. Immune System Support
      Raw meat is highly bioavailable and contains live bacteria/enzymes that support digestion and help to absorb almost all the immune-boosting nutrients. Raw food is also naturally rich in moisture, which supports organ health.
    3. Less Stool
      Having a diet of highly digestible ingredients for your pet is that more of what goes in is absorbed and utilized within the body – meaning less comes out the other end. Carbohydrates and filler ingredients such as soy, potato, corn and rice take longer to digest and do not fully absorb within your pet’s body. These ingredients can lead to larger stool volume with a heavy odour. Most raw diets contain no fillers and are low in carbohydrates, resulting in less waste passing through and decomposing faster.
    4. Healthy Skin & Coat
      Raw diets contain many ingredients that support skin and coat health, one of the most notable being omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy omega fats play a significant role in supporting healthy skin and a soft coat. Some common ingredients that provide essential omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, chia, and flax seeds. After switching your pet to a raw diet, you’ll notice a difference in their skin, coat and even how much less they shed!
    5. Reduced Body Odour
      When pets consume food high in fillers, additives, and preservatives, it can lead to unpleasant odours. A raw food diet better supports your pet’s digestive system, which often decreases or eliminates gas.
    6. Weight Management
      A raw diet is a natural way to help manage your pet’s weight and improve its overall well-being. Kibble contains carbohydrates and sugars that are harder for your pet to burn off, most times causing weight issues.
    7. Cleans Teeth Naturally
      Poor dental hygiene in your pets can sometimes be caused by a poor diet, especially if their diet is heavily processed or high in carbohydrates. Kibble and canned food can often get stuck in your pet’s teeth, leading to plaque, tartar and bad breath. Raw, meaty bones are well-known for helping them get into those tricky places between their teeth and removing plaque.
    8. Reduction in Allergies
      A pet’s diet is the most common cause of allergies. Many fillers used in kibble are not biologically meant for pets to digest and can cause stress on their digestive system and compromise their immune system. Common allergic reactions include rashes, itchy paws, ear infections, and digestive and joint issues. Healthy omega fats provide anti-inflammatory benefits, perfect for dogs with allergies or inflammatory skin diseases. A raw food diet can help reduce and sometimes even eliminate your furry friend’s allergy symptoms.

These are just some of the many benefits of a raw food diet for your pet. Our Experts here at Feeds’n Needs recommend Big Country Raw for your pets! There is something on their menu for dogs and cats of all breeds, sizes, and ages! Chat with one of our Experts in-store for more information on getting your furry friend started on a raw diet. We are here to help!

Sources:

Health benefits of raw feeding – Guides | Big Dog Pet Foods

The Top 10 Benefits Of A Raw Diet For Your Pet – Top Dog Food & Supply (topdogfoodandsupply.com)

dental health tips for your dog
dental health tips for your dog

Dental Health Tips For Your Dog

We know the importance of brushing our teeth, but what about our pets? Did you know that dogs can get cavities, gum disease and plaque build up? Yep, just like humans! Your dog’s teeth should ideally be brushed after every meal to prevent tartar build up and protect against periodontal disease.  If you haven’t gotten your dog accustomed to teeth brushing as a puppy, it’s not too late to start. Here are a few helpful dental health tips for your dog.

  1. Get your dog used to having their mouth open when you need to check their teeth or mouth. The more you do this, the more patient and calm your dog will be when brushing. It might be helpful to offer them a treat for good behaviour when they let you do this.
  2. Head to your local Feeds’n Needs and ask our Experts to help you pick out a dog-friendly toothpaste. This is an important step to take, as human brands contain fluoride which isn’t healthy for your pet to swallow and can be toxic. Many toothpaste for pets come in a variety of flavours, some similar to their favourite treats, such as beef, chicken, bacon and more.
  3. Pick a soft toothbrush for your dog, to ensure their gums don’t damage during brushing. There is a large selection of options, but opt for one with an angled tip, making it easier for you to reach the back of your dog’s mouth. Many pet owners use toothbrushes made for babies, as they are smaller and less intrusive in your dog’s mouth. If your dog is used to having your fingers in their mouth, you could consider purchasing a finger brush slip that can go over your index finger and get the job done!
    Pro tip: If your dog is fussy when brushing, don’t worry too much about brushing the insides of their teeth as their tongue does a great job of keeping the inner sides of their teeth clean throughout the day.
  4. Pick up some dental treats and kibble for your pet to help protect against disease. Greenie’s Dental Treats are a perfect choice for both dogs and cats, as they freshen breath while the treats’ textured surface helps remove tartar buildup. Ask our Experts in-store which treats they recommend!
Birds eating bird seed on ground in winter
Birds eating bird seed on ground in winter

Best Winter Bird Seed

Backyard birders should provide bird seed that is high in protein, oil, fat, and calories because higher quality food gives winter birds the most energy for keeping warm during colder weather. Offer a variety of food in different feeders to increase the size and diversity of your backyard visitors.

Keep an eye on your backyard winter flocks and adjust food supplies as needed. Limit mixes with fillers like red or golden millet, flax seed, and rape seed because winter birds consume the most nutrient rich food first, these fillers will most likely end up on the ground attracting unwelcomed critters.

Sunflower Seeds

Black Oil Sunflower Seed: Black oil sunflower seeds top the list for winter feeding.  These sunflower seeds attract a variety of bird species including black-headed grosbeaks, chickadees, house sparrows, northern flickers, and song sparrows. Unlike striped sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds have a thinner shell making them easier for smaller birds to break through them. These seeds are rich in oil and a high source of calories, making them a popular feeder option year-round.

Offer black oil sunflower seeds in hopper feeders, wide-mouthed tube feeders, broad mesh feeders, open trays, dishes, and platform feeders.

Striped Sunflower Seed: Striped sunflower seed are a great source of fat and oil.  The hulls on striped sunflowers are thicker and harder than black oil sunflower seed. This seed is popular with larger bird species such as cardinals, blue jays, and grackles.

Offer striped sunflower seeds in hopper feeders, wide-mouthed tube feeders, broad mesh feeders, open trays, dishes, and platform feeders.

Hulled Sunflower Seed: Hulled sunflower seed is popular with songbirds including finches, titmice, chickadees, sparrows, and cardinals. These seeds are rich in oil and a high source of calories, making them a popular feeder option year-round.

Offer hulled sunflower seeds in hopper feeders, wide-mouthed tube feeders, broad mesh feeders, open trays, dishes, and platform feeders.

Other Bird Seeds

Safflower Seed: Safflower seeds are white seeds and a favorite among doves and cardinals, though other birds will also feed on safflower seeds if sunflower seeds are not available. This seed is somewhat bitter tasting making it a good choice to detract unwanted critters and feeders with a pest problem.

Offer safflower seeds in hopper feeders, wide-mouthed tube feeders, broad mesh feeders, open trays, dishes, and platform feeders.

Nyjer Seed: Nyjer seed is rich in oil, fat, and protein. It is a favorite among small birds including siskins, goldfinches, redpolls, and juncos. Quail and larger finches often feed on the ground beneath Nyjer feeders, cleaning up spilled seed. Nyjer is more expensive compared to larger seed but has good economic value due to its lack of waste.

Nyjer (or Thistle) seed is very light and best offered in feeders with small openings. Narrow-mouthed tubes and metal or nylon mesh feeders are ideal.

Suet Blocks: Suet blocks are a great energy source for backyard birds particularly in colder temperatures. These densely packed fat and seed blocks give backyard birds extra energy reserves to keep them warm and refueled during cooler weather. There are a variety of birds from chickadees to woodpeckers that enjoy this satisfying snack.

Winter is a perfect time for hanging suet feeders as the colder temperatures keep suet from turning rancid. Suet blocks can be hung from trees (sometimes in onion bags or half inch hardware cloth basket) or in cage feeders.

Winter Treats

Cracked Corn: Cracked corn is popular for large ground-feeding birds such as starlings and grackles, as well as pheasants, wild turkeys, and ducks. It has a good source of oil and starch, is inexpensive and can be used to tempt larger birds away from more expensive seeds.

Offer cracked corn in a variety of ways including large platform or dish feeders, sprinkled directly on the ground, or mixed in with other seed.

White Proso Millet: White proso millet is a grass seed that is particularly popular with small birds. Millet is high in starch, protein, fiber, and fat, making it a great energy source for small birds in winter. It is particularly favored by towhees, sparrows, finches, juncos, and buntings among others.

Offer millet in small tube and hopper feeders, open platforms, or dish feeders.

Nuts: Nuts in their natural state are packed full of fat and protein, providing birds with plenty of energy to generate more body heat. Woodpeckers, blue jays, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, and finches are among some of the frequent flyers that will enjoy this tasty treat. Ensure nuts are deshelled and unsalted, as salt is highly toxic to wild birds. It is advisable to purchase nuts from a pet store as bird feed promoted for wild bird to guarantee nuts do not contain any harmful ingredients.

Offer nuts in open platforms or dish feeders, wire mesh feeder for peanuts, or sprinkled on the ground.

Related Articles

Winter Backyard Bird Enthusiasts
Feeding Wild Birds in Winter
Best Winter Bird Feeders
How To Properly Store Bird Seed
Keep Feeding Areas Clean and Maintained
Keep Backyard Birds Healthy in Winter

Properly store bird seed
Properly store bird seed

How to Properly Store Bird Seed

Bird seed can spoil, so it is important to know how to store bird seed properly. Clumps indicate moisture and should not be used. Infestations of rodents or insects, foul-smells, or mold growth are all telltale signs that bird seed has gone bad and should be discarded immediately. Light coloration may indicate old seed or diminished nutrients and it is advisable to replace it.

Knowing how to properly store bird seed can make all the difference in how long it stays fresh. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Remove unused bird seed from its original packaging and place in an airtight plastic container or bin with a secure lid.
  2. Store in a cool, dry area away from harmful chemicals and pesticides.
  3. Label the type of bird seed and date of purchase.
  4. Use your oldest seed first and buy in moderation, enough for use up to a month.
  5. Check for signs of damage or other indications of spoilage before using.
  6. Filling feeders for only a few days’ worth of seed at a time, ensures less spoilage due to wet weather conditions.
  7. Clean feeders regularly to ensure a healthy and safe environment for birds to feed.