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June 29, 2019
Don't you think it's rather overwhelming navigating all the information out there about what to feed our pets? It's so important to the health of your beloved Smooshie Face to get it right.
What do we need to avoid? What do the numbers mean on the back of packaging? How much should my rabbit/piggy be eating each day?
I'm going to share with you now some of the guidelines i stick to when caring for our four house rabbits. I will include some information for piggy owners too. I must point out i am NOT vet or a scientist, my information is from my own years of research & personal learnings - if you feel unsure of any of the information i provide check with your vet or feel free to leave comments & we can openly discuss it ❤
When i started Smooshie Face Treats my mission was set to create a range of products sharing informative, honest & clear information in regards to ingredients. Every person has the right to know exactly what they are offering up to their pets. In Australia our industry standards for pet food are lax, there is little information regarding the acceptable content of Rabbit / Guinea Pig food and certainly no legislation to prevent crappy quality foods being sold. There is a great movement happening amongst the Aussie Cat & Dog food sector were people are campaigning to have standards lifted and structured guidelines to adhere to for anyone selling such foods, unfortunately for us Rabbit & Piggy owners things happen for other breeds of pets before ours. You will find marked packaging in Australia claiming all sorts of health benefits & nutrient values, but it's only in the US that laws won't allow unsubstantiated claims like ''all natural or high fibre'' & force companies reveal fibre, protein, fat & moisture content on the back of packaging. One day I hope those measures are put in place officially across the world for all pet foods.
Adult Rabbits - Daily
Adult Guinea Pigs - Daily
''Homemade'' businesses like Smooshie Face Treats are popping up all over Australia & across the world. Personally i think it's wonderful, the more the merrier. Having choice is the best! A few years ago there was literally none. When purchasing treats from any these businesses, mine included you are entitled to ask questions, you should be provided with clear lists of ingredients. If they can't provide them then i suggest steering clear. It's fantastic to support small business and go with homemade products, your helping put food on someones table, supporting a family and a major benefit is you should be able to see the love & passion they have for their products on a personal level which bigger companies just don't have. Just know your ingredients before making a choice fit for your Smooshie Face.
I choose not to use pellets in our treats for the simple reason they are fortified, and if i'm already feeding pellets as apart of my rabbits diet i don't want to add more into their treats adding extra calories. If you buy treats with pellets in them make sure you reduce your daily pellet allowance by a little. Some brands will state ''pellets or nuggets'' as an ingredient...personally i have an issue with this because a pellet can be made up of absolutely anything, if you see this investigate - ask them what brand they use, you want a reputable brand in your treats, not a budgo corn/starch/grain filler. If your buying for a guinea pig - is the pellet more for rabbits??? Rabbit pellets are higher in vits & minerals, fats etc than a pig requires so be weary of this.
Treats in the daily food pyramid for Rabbits & Guinea Pigs are considered as pieces of fruit or any foods containing naturally occurring sugars. The only sugars your pets should be consuming are those that come from fruit, vegetables/hay eg carrots contain naturally occuring sugars . What about molasses or sugar cane? - these are natural yes but they are pure sugar. Alternative sugar sources are a top causes of gut issues alongside an overload of naturally occurring ones - excessive sugars can cause bacterial changes in the gut creating imbalance & overgrowth so stay away from these. Some businesses will state they don't add sugar but then list these alternatives - it's the same thing.
Smooshie Face Treats have been designed with the natural occurring sugars in mind - i limit the amount of fruit, veg vs hay ratio so levels remain reasonable. No other sugar of any kind is ever added in thus allowing you to feel confident that your daily ''treat'' fits in with the rest of your smooshies well balanced diet.
Food colouring.... another questionable ingredient. For those who use it typically they state it's ''natural''. This means concentrated colour extracts from foods containing natural colour eg carrot makes orange, beetroot makes pink & red etc. Food colour has no nutrient benefit for your pet & its use is questionable because if it's required... for what purpose? Hiding something or is it only for us hoomins viewing pleasure? Sure everyone loves pretty colours but I don't think our pets care for the colour of their food if it's tasty so why put it in. Also i think the natural colour of our treats are quite beautiful. Soft pinks of watermelon, a dash of green from herbs or the glow of orange from papaya....yum!
Avoid whole grains, corn, starch, seed and nuts - all no nos and often used to bulk up treats because they are cheap.
Baked in an oven or baked in a dehydrator?
Dehydrator all the way for us, conventional ovens aren't capable of heats suitable to cure treats for pets without the risk of altering the structure of the ingredients. How many animals cook their food before they eat it? None. Dehydrating works similar to sun drying, it removes moisture and doesnt kill off useful nutrients with excessive heat. Low and slow, even if it means 10 to 12 hrs...
At the start of the year i decided to commence the long task of having our treats lab tested for nutrient analysis. I wanted to do this to provide even more clear information about the contents of my products. A lot of home based businesses will not have this process completed as it is expensive and time consuming. But i believe in my treats, i back them 100% and Smooshie Face Treats is here to stay. On the back of my packets you can see a guaranteed analysis chart revealing fibre, protein, fat & moisture - please note this is for the entire bag of treats. On my website product pages i also reveal the ash content. You might be thinking ash? ASH! why on earth would my treats contain ash. Well, technically they don't, ''Ash'' is the terminology used to describe the mineral deposits left in the treats after the lab burns away the fibre, protein, fats. This deposit can be made up of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron etc So basically nutrient particles which your pet might find handy in their diet.
A little side note on moisture. Moisture in dehydrated treats needs to be 10% or under, any higher the risk of mold forming is a high possibility & is extremely dangerous for your pets to ingest. Make sure you trust your makers skills & equipment. This is why i upgraded to a commercial dehydrator, cooking large batches evenly is difficult in smaller appliances. Closing up your bag of treats will keep moisture out & the crunch will stick around longer.
I hope this information brings some of you light in the battlefield of feeding your Smooshie Faces. I'm currently working on compiling a list of yes/no foods which i will share in an artful way very soon (hint! oooohhh pretty poster). If you have any questions or would like to chat please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email email@example.com or thru my social media channels.
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