Small Animal Litter Training

Litter training isn’t exclusively for cats, and with patience and perseverance it is possible to train different small pets to use litter boxes. Rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, rats and other small animals can all be successfully litter trained if the right steps are taken to encourage their training.

The Best Litter

Cat litters are not generally suitable for use with other small pets. Chemicals in the cat litter can be toxic to other pets, which often chew on parts of their litter. Litters with a great deal of dust can also be dangerous for small pets to inhale. Instead, choose the best litter type for your specific animal and pet’s preferences. Ideally, the litter should feel natural and comfortable to the animal. Hay litters, including alfalfa and oat hays, are popular options, especially for rabbits. Pressed wood pellets, peat moss or even shredded paper can also be suitable.

Choose a litter box that is the appropriate size for your pet, bearing in mind that some animals like to stretch out in the litter box. Adding a few layers of newspaper to the bottom of the box can help absorb urine to keep the litter from getting soaked too quickly. Position the box in the corner or area of the cage where your pet has already shown a bathroom preference.

Litter Training Tips

It takes time and patience to train a small pet to use a litter box. Accidents will happen, and for some types of animals, urinating or defecating is a way to mark their territory, so those accidents may not always be so accidental. To help your pet learn to use the litter box more consistently…

  • Start training your pet to use a litter box right away. While younger animals have poor memories and shorter attention spans so they may not be able to learn as quickly as adults, there is no wrong time to get them with litter training. It is never too early or too late!
  • Place multiple litter boxes in convenient locations. This will give your pet more options if they are choosy about their bathroom spaces, and it will help small animals find the right space if they are playing out of their cage. Each box should be consistent in size and litter, however, so it is easily recognized as a bathroom space.
  • Clean the litter box frequently. This includes removing and replacing the old litter as well as wiping out the box to reduce stains and odors. Once a week the box should be disinfected by rinsing it with white vinegar, but avoid using heavily scented soaps to clean the box. These can mask the animal’s natural scent, which they need as a clue for where to do their business.
  • Watch your pet constantly when they are out of their cage for play, exercise, handling or socializing. As soon as they start to show signs of looking for a bathroom space, guide them to the litterbox. This will help them remember the approved space to use and will reinforce the training.

Training your small pet to use a litter box will take time and they may never learn to use it perfectly, but if they are familiar with the box and use it well, it can make keeping their cage clean much easier.

Should You Be Changing Your Pets Food Regularly?

Once your pet becomes all grown up and it starts to enjoy the same kind of good quality food, there’s nothing else that needs to be done, right? Sure, dog chow is going to be on the menu for a long time since my pet likes it. However, this is far from ideal.  Depending on the weight and type of pet you have, you should alter your pet’s diet periodically.

Variety is the spice of life for both you and your pet. If you have not learned by now, there is no one type of pet food in existence that absolutely has it all. There will never be a one size fits all method, because not one single animal is like another.  Here are a few good reasons why you should be changing your pet’s food regularly.  First, pets obtain their necessary vitamins and minerals by eating many different kinds of food. With most domestic diets, this can already be covered. However, if it’s not, you need to rotate food to guarantee your pet meets its exact dietary needs. This is especially important, as pets get older. When your pet is young, it needs a certain food type that will support its growth and energy, but when your pet becomes older, it requires a different kind of food that supports its overall health including joints and weight management. As pets get older, they become less active. Therefore, you will need to adjust your food so that it’s lower in fats and calories. The second reason you should change your pet’s food is to help prevent protein allergies.  Allergic reactions naturally occur in pets that are fed the same food for long periods of time.

Over time, your pet’s immune system can start to identify a specific ingredient as harmful and release antibodies to fight the allergy. Allergic reactions are usually the first indication that it’s time to rotate food for your pet. Food allergies can range from itchy skin to hot spots and diarrhea.  Every owner should be changing food about every 3 months or so to maintain variety and to avoid allergic reactions. For the best results, rotate between protein sources such as beef, lamb, and chicken. Rotating food may cause some gastrointestinal issues at first because dogs have sensitive stomachs. If this happens, slow down the transition until your pet starts to adjust.  Take the whole week to slowly transition your dog into the new food. If your pet has a really sensitive stomach and can’t adjust, it may be best to quit the new food altogether or speak to your local veterinarian.

For many owners, the ‘bag for life’ method is the most common because its routine and we like to think that our pet can handle or eat anything. The point of this article is to learn to not be one of those owners. Your pet is like family, and family deserves better. Change your pet’s food regularly to maintain optimum health and nutrition for your animal.