Food for small pets – what are all the options?
If you have a small furry companion, you’ll no doubt have come across a range of different diets when you’re out shopping for their food. From muesli-style mixes to nuggets, there’s a bewildering array of options out there. But why are there so many to choose from, and how do you decide which is best for your pet? We’ve put together this blog to answer your questions.
What types of food are there?
Broadly speaking, there are four types of small pet food: muesli-style mixes, pellets and extruded nuggets. For rabbits there’s also a food type on the menu called Fibafirst, which is a hay-based diet that is exceptionally high in fibre. When you’re choosing between these options, there isn’t a single right answer – the best choice depends on the situation and your pet’s preferences. Here we’ll go through the different food types and explain what you’ll want to consider in your choice. But remember, whichever food type you choose, if you are feeding a rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla or degu, hay should always make up the main part of the diet, you can find out more here.
Extruded nuggets are a great way of providing your small pet with all the nutrients they need. These nuggets are cooked at high temperatures under pressure. The process gives them a crunchy texture which small pets love, whilst ensuring they receive all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy. Since Selective extruded nuggets are so tasty, because of the high quality ingredients we select, there’s no need to add extra sugars, meaning they’re a healthy option for your pocket pal.
At Supreme, we’ve been working on our extruded diets to make them even better for small pets – we’ve developed our formulations so that we can include higher levels of fibre for digestive and dental health. We use these healthy nuggets in our veterinary recommended Science Selective range.
Pellets are made by binding ingredients together under pressure. The process is generally carried out at lower temperatures than extrusion. The finished product may not be so palatable for small furries, as pellets tend to be much more hard and dense. To improve the palatability of pellets, sometimes sugars are added such as molasses or syrups – this can be the case in extruded nuggets and muesli, so always check the ingredients on your pet food pack.
Muesli mixes are another option that many pets enjoy. These diets look more interesting than nuggets or pellets, as all the ingredients come in different shapes and colours! However, these foods have historically come with the problem of selective feeding.
While selective feeding can be a risk with some muesli mixes, there are now options specially designed to help reduce the likelihood of pets picking and choosing. In our Tiny Friends Farm mixes we use tasty extruded nuggets, and we’ve devoted our efforts to making as many parts of the mix as delicious as each other. It’s still important to keep an eye out for selective feeding though, and if you think your furry friend may be a choosy eater, you may need to consider switching to a single component diet. We now have Russel Rabbit and Gerty Guinea Pig Tasty Nuggets, which offer a single component alternative in the Tiny Friends Farm range.
Muesli, pellets and nuggets have been around for many years, but for rabbits there’s another food format on the scene. Our Selective Naturals Fibafirst is a hay-based recipe containing very high levels of long fibre which is great for digestive and dental health.
The idea with Fibafirst is that it predominantly hay based, so it encourages natural feeding behaviour. It’s particularly good for those individuals who won’t eat enough hay, as it provides additional long fibre. For this reason it’s good to give during the recovery from illness, when rabbits may be less inclined to move around and forage for hay. Other rabbits who might benefit from Fibafirst are those with dental disease or fibre-responsive digestive problems.
Whilst you won’t see liquid foods in your local pet store, these are used by vets to support pets recovering from illness. Convalescing animals often need a bit of encouragement to keep them eating, and particularly for herbivores like rabbits, it’s vitally important to keep their digestive system moving. Liquid diets are designed to be very tasty as well as easy to eat and digest, so they support recovering pets as much as possible. They generally come as a powder that you can make up into a paste by adding warm water. For pets who won’t eat enough out of a bowl to keep themselves going, it’s possible to give liquid food by syringe.
Our Science Selective RecoveryPlus is a liquid diet that provides intensive nutritional support for sick and convalescing rabbits, guinea pigs, degus and chinchillas. Its ingredients are specially selected to promote gut activity, support the immune system and maintain a healthy population of gut bacteria.
Choosing a healthy diet for your pet
The best type of diet for your pet depends on the particular situation. For example, a rabbit who’s been raised on a muesli-style mix may already have a preference for that style of food, so a high-quality mix that doesn’t encourage selective feeding would be a good option for them. For rabbits who won’t eat enough hay, Fibafirst could be a better choice.
Whichever type of pet food you choose, it’s important to remember that this should just be just one part of your furry friend’s diet. For herbivores such as rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus, then about 80% of their daily intake should be hay. We also recommend a little fresh food: herbivores love a handful of fresh greens, whereas omnivores such as rats can have more varied tastes. Find out more here.
As part of a balanced diet, small pets can also enjoy a few treats – learn more about how to treat your furry companion while still keeping them healthy and well.