Monday, August 30, 2010

Pet Fox Stories: Pancake Goblins

This morning, in addition to his regular food, I gave Gizmo two small pancakes. Pancakes are by FAR his favorite food; he's the only canine I've ever met who will ignore bacon to eat pancakes. Well, he scooped up the pancakes out of the bowl, squealed in excitement, then ran and stashed them inside his play tunnel. He also put a tennis ball on top of them to "bury" them so I wouldn't see them.

He then wolfed down his breakfast burger, picked up the empty dish, and carried it to me, making his best little sobbing noises. Pancake Goblins had stolen his pancakes out of the dish, so I should totally give him two MORE pancakes to make up for it.

I entered the pen, and pointed out his "hidden" pancakes. He responded by gekkering at me, scooped up the pancakes, "hid" them again (in the corner behind his litterbox this time), and then once again brought me the empty bowl and looked his most pathetic.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Photo of the Week: 8/28/2010


silver fox kit, originally uploaded by matt knoth.
This photo of the week is a picture taken by Matt Knoth of a young silver fox on the road. I just love the contrast of textures in it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fox Food Recipe: Recovery Diet

Nutrient Requirements of Mink and Foxes,: Second Revised Edition, 1982 (<i>Nutrient Requirements of Domestic Animals:</i> A Series)There are many excellent home made diets out there for dogs and cats, but they suffer from one main problem when it comes to feeding your pet fox--they were designed for dogs and cats. I was unable to find any home made diets specifically made to meet a pet fox's needs, so I did a great deal of research and created my own.
This diet was carefully formulated for Gizmo, based on recommendations from Nutrient Requirements of Mink and Foxes: Second Revised Edition. Food nutritional values were taken from USDA National Nutrient Database. This diet has been a staple for Gizmo for the past two years, and he is in perfect health and at his ideal weight.

This diet is intended for foxes who have packed on a few pounds and need to slim down, or for animals that are unable to maintain a high level of activity (i.e. injured, not allowed to be taken on walks, etc.) It is as nutritionally complete, and offers roughly the same amount of “bulk”, as the Maintenance Diet, so the fox doesn’t think he’s not getting enough. Portions given are for a medium-to-large male fox (12-to-15 lbs). Smaller foxes will need to have their portions adjusted accordingly, and intact females will have different dietary needs depending on the time of year.

So, without further ado...

Recovery Diet for Red Foxes

1 lb ground turkey, raw
2 lbs ground chicken, raw
2 cups rolled oats, cooked
3 chopped hardboiled eggs
3 powdered eggshells
150g boneless pink salmon, cooked.
450g green beans, cooked. (If you use canned, choose "no salt added")
200g minced clams, cooked.
1 tsp Wheat Germ Oil
1 tsp Anise Seed (Optional, but Gizmo loves it)

Mix it all together evenly. Makes 16 portions. As this diet contains raw meat, it should be kept frozen, and thawed out only as needed.

A large male fox will generally eat 2 portions a day (Sometimes 3 if he’s been very active that day or it’s cold, or only 1 if he’s been laying around and it’s hot out). Only offer 1 portion at a time, or they have a tendency to eat half then hide the rest for later.

If the fox seems to be intentionally eating “around” the oats, blenderize the salmon or green beans until liquid and add to the oatmeal before cooking. This will flavor the oatmeal and make it much more appealing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fox Food Recipe: Maintenance Diet

Nutrient Requirements of Mink and Foxes,: Second Revised Edition, 1982 (<i>Nutrient Requirements of Domestic Animals:</i> A Series)There are many excellent home made diets out there for dogs and cats, but they suffer from one main problem when it comes to feeding your pet fox--they were designed for dogs and cats. I was unable to find any home made diets specifically made to meet a pet fox's needs, so I did a great deal of research and created my own.
This diet was carefully formulated for Gizmo, based on recommendations from Nutrient Requirements of Mink and Foxes: Second Revised Edition. Food nutritional values were taken from USDA National Nutrient Database. This diet has been a staple for Gizmo for the past two years, and he is in perfect health and at his ideal weight.

This is intended as a maintenance diet for an active, adult red fox. Portions given are for a medium-to-large male fox (12-to-15 lbs). Smaller foxes will need to have their portions adjusted accordingly, and intact females will have different dietary needs depending on the time of year.

So, without further ado...

Maintenance Diet for Red Foxes (AKA “Gizmo Burgers”)
Intended for healthy, active animals.

3 lbs 80-20 Ground Chuck, raw
2 cups rolled oats, cooked
3 chopped hardboiled eggs
3 powdered eggshells
150g boneless pink salmon, cooked.
450g green beans, cooked. (If you use canned, choose "no salt added")
1 tsp whole ground flaxseed
3 tbsp Brewer’s Yeast
1 tsp Wheat Germ Oil
1 tsp Anise Seed (Optional, but Gizmo loves it)

Mix it all together evenly. Makes 16 portions. As this diet contains raw meat, it should be kept frozen, and thawed out only as needed.

A large male fox will generally eat 2 portions a day (Sometimes 3 if he’s been very active that day or it’s cold, or only 1 if he’s been laying around and it’s hot out). Only offer 1 portion at a time, or they have a tendency to eat half then hide the rest for later.

If the fox seems to be intentionally eating “around” the oats, blenderize the salmon or green beans until liquid and add to the oatmeal before cooking. This will flavor the oatmeal and make it much more appealing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Photo of the Week: 8/21/2010


, originally uploaded by Minette Layne.
Today's photo of the week is a beautiful shot by Minette Layne! I just love the light and shadow on it.

If you'd like to submit an image for our Photo of the Week, just send it to me at admin@thepetfox.net. Please include all source information, so I can give proper credit.

Don't forget, on Monday and Wednesday I'll be revealing the recipe for Gizmo's food!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Feeding Meat: Raw or Cooked?

As I've mentioned in an earlier article, meat is an important part of a fox's diet. However, a common question is whether to feed cooked meat, or raw meat.

Personally, I'm an advocate of raw meat as a staple in any captive fox's diet. This more closely approximates their diet in the wild. Depending on how the meat is offered, it can also be a great source of entertainment and enrichment for your fox. For example, Wolf Park in Indiana often gives their foxes an entire leg of venison. Stripping the meat from the bone is great for keeping a fox's teeth clean and in top condition, and they can practice their natural behaviors such as food caching. Obviously, this won't be practical for most pet fox owners, but it's still something worth considering.

Along with it being a much more natural food source, raw meat is actually much healthier for your fox than cooked meat is. Cooking meat breaks down many of the natural enzymes in it. While the process of cooking makes meat easier for humans to digest, it can have the exact opposite effect on canines.

A worry I often hear stated is that a fox will be at a serious risk of becoming ill from eating raw meat. So long as you use good, meant-for-human-consumption meat, and follow basic sanitary standards, this is not a concern. Foxes are designed to eat raw meat. A million years of evolution has given them the necessary teeth and digestive system to handle raw meat. Now, if a fox has been living on dog kibble, and you abruptly switch it to a raw meat diet, they will likely have some digestive upset. This is quite normal for ANY rapid food change, both for animals and humans.

So long as you buy raw meat that is of high quality (i.e. intended for human consumption), and follow smart sanitary practices (thawing out what you need daily and keeping the rest frozen, etc.), raw meat is an excellent addition to any pet fox's diet.

Stay tuned: Coming up on Monday and Wednesday, I'm going to finally be sharing some recipes for Gizmo's food!

Monday, August 16, 2010

What NOT To Feed A Fox

Photo by Raul Lieberwirth
As a general rule of thumb, any food that will hurt your dog or cat will hurt your pet fox. Please note that this list is not an exhaustive list of everything that could be harmful to your fox. Also note that one bite of something on this list probably won't kill your fox. Still, these are foods that are best kept out of your pet's reach.



Avocados:
Leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark contain the toxin Persin, and can cause difficulty breathing, as well as fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen, and heart. (Bird-owners beware, avocados are also toxic to those with feathers).

There's been some debate over how harmful Avocado really is, and it's actually used in a few brands of commercial dog food (Notably AvoDerm). However, store-bought foods containing avocado generally use the non-toxic parts of the plant. I would advise you to use extreme caution before adding avocado to any home-made diet.

Caffeine:
The lethal dose of caffeine is 150mg per kg of body weight. Just keep coffee grinds, tea bags, mountain dew, etc. out of your pet's reach, and you'll be fine.

In general, foxes are hyper enough without caffeine, anyway.
Chocolate:
This is a pretty well-known one. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is poisonous to many animals. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Chocolate can cause seizures, coma, and death. The official lethal dose of chocolate for dogs is 240 to 500 mg per kg of body-weight, but a death from a dose as low as 114 mg/kg of body weight has been recorded.

Grapes And Rasins:
These are known to cause vomiting, kidney damage, and hypercalcemia in dogs and foxes, although the exact reason why is unknown.

Green Eggplant, Peppers, and Tomatoes:
Green eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes contain toxins known as glycoalkaloids. The leaves or stem of these plants should also be avoided at all costs. As the veggie ripens and turns red (or purple, in the case of eggplant), most of the glycoalkaloids leave it, making it safe for animal consumption.

However, trace amounts of glycoalkaloids will remain in the tomato/pepper/eggplant even after it is ripe, and they will not be destroyed by the cooking process. Because of this, it is best to feed tomatoes only occasionally to prevent a build-up of toxins in your pet's system over time.

Green Potatoes:
I've separated this out from the other "green" veggies, as I have additional info on it that may not apply to tomatoes, eggplants, etc.

Green potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, solanine, and chaconine, all of which are toxic. When exposed to light, the skin, eyes, and tubers of a potato can develop elevated levels of these toxic substances as a by-product of photosynthesis. Although the greatest concentration is on the surface, the "flesh" of a tuber exposed to sunlight can also develop toxic quantities of these chemicals.

The leaves, stem, and berries of the tomato plant are also toxic. (In particular the berries, which often contain 10-20 times more glycoalkaloids than the tubers.)

Care should be taken to store potatoes in light-proof sacks. Glycoalkaloids, solanine, and chaconine are not destroyed by the cooking process, so any potatoes that develop sprouts or a greenish tint should be discarded immediately.

Macadamia Nuts and Walnuts:
Poisonings from these are few and far between; signs include weakness, vomiting, and tremors.

Onions, Garlic, and Chives:
These plants are all members of the onion family, along with leeks and challots. Onions, garlic, and chives are all in the plant genus Allium, and can be potentially toxic. According to the National Animal Poison Control Center, "Allium species contain sulfur compounds known as disulfides, which if ingested in large quantities can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could even result in damage to red blood cells".

The key word here is probably "large quantities", as many resources will advise the addition of a small bit of garlic to a pet's food to ward off fleas. Still, due to the risks, it is best to avoid garlic, or to use it very, very sparingly.

Pits & Seeds from Apples, Cherries, and Peaches:
These contain trace amounts of cyanide.

Xylitol:
Found in chewing gum, baked goods, and toothpastes; has been known to cause liver failure in dogs.

*****

Also, for those of you who feed your pets store-bought dog food, watch your labels for the following ingredients:

Beet Pulp:
Dried sugar beet residue; little or no nutritional value. Not harmful in and of itself, but a sign that the company making your pets food is cutting corners.

BHA and BHT: (butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hyroxytoluene.)
Can cause cancer, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys. These preservatives also appear in some human foods--but remember, we only eat a type of food once in a while. Your dog or fox eats his dog food every day. If this is in his food, he's eating these harmful chemicals every day.

Dehydrated Food-Waste:
This is basically dried garbage; AAFCO defines it as "any and all animal and vegetable produce" picked up from basic food processing sources or institutions. i.e. garbage from hospitals, restaurants, grocery stores, etc. The produce has to be picked up sufficiently frequently so that no decomposition is evident, but still, yuck.

Ethoxyquin:
A preservative that has been found to be highly toxic to animals. (It was originally designed as a pesticide!). It has been associated with immune deficiency syndrome, leukemia, blindness, and cancer of the skin, stomach, spleen, and liver.

Due to protests by pet-owners, it's use is not as widespread in pet foods as it once was, but the FDA/CVM still allows it as an acceptable preservative in pet food.

Ground Almond and Peanut Shells:
Used as a cheap source of fiber, but not much nutritional value. Not harmful in and of itself, but a sign that the company making your pets food is cutting corners.

Hydrolyzed Poultry Feather or Hydrolyzed Hair:
AAFCO allows this to be counted as a protein source in pet foods. However, hydrolyzed feathers and hair are completely indigestible. If your pet's food contains this ingredient, they may not be getting enough protein.

Meat Meal:
Defined by AAFCO as "the rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices."

Rendering plants are a topic in and of themselves, but here's what you need to know: they take in the leftovers from slaughter-houses. They take in meat that's deemed unfit for human consumption. They take in restaurant and grocery store garbage. They also take in dead zoo-animals, road kill that's too big to be buried by the side of the road, diseased livestock, the works. Some (but not all) rendering companies will also take in euthanized companion animals from shelters and veterinary clinics.

They grind it all up, mix it in together, and heat the hell out of it in big vats to separate out the fat. Once all the fat and grease has been removed, they dry the remaining product and sell it as "Meat Meal".

Menadione Dimethylprimidinol Bisulfate:
Used as a cheap source of Vitamin K in inferior foods. Can cause cytotoxicity in the liver, allergic reactions, and irritation of the skin and mucous membranes.

Poultry By-Product Meal:
AAFCO: "consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practices."

Same basic problem as meat meal.

Powdered Cellulose:
Adds bulk, but very little else. No real nutritional value.

Soybean Meal:
Adds bulk, but very little else. No real nutritional value.




A final note: Watch out for ingredient-splitting in store-bought pet foods. This is where a company will "split" a grain into two categories so that they can list a meat as the primary ingredient, i.e.:

Instead of the ingredients list reading:
Corn, wheat, chicken, rye, salmon meal...

It will read:
Chicken, corn flour, wheat germ meal, rye, corn gluten meal, wheat flour, salmon meal, wheat middlings and shorts, corn bran...

That way, it looks like Chicken is the main ingredient, even though it's not. Sneaky, sneaky pet-food companies. If your pet food has got several different permutations of corn, wheat, or other grains, they may be using "splitting" to disguise the fact that meat is not the primary ingredient.

*****
Hope this was helpful, and if anyone knows of any other foods to avoid, please let me know!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Photo of the Week: 8/14/2010


Red fox pup ( wild ), originally uploaded by Eric Bégin.
This week's Photo Of The Week was taken in Melocheville, Quebec by Eric Bégin. Too cute.

On Monday, I'll be discussing foods that are harmful for pet foxes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pet Fox Stories: Go To Bed

Gizmo sleeps in a very large dog crate at night. Otherwise, he will typically make a destructive little nuisance of himself. He's like a toddler--constant supervision is required when he is out in the house, otherwise he gets himself into all sorts of trouble.

Well, the other night I went downstairs around 1 in the morning, only to see that Gizmo's night crate was standing wide open, it's occupant gone. I couldn't help but groan internally, as few things are as hard to catch as a Gizmo who doesn't want to go to bed for the night. Plus who knows what he might have destroyed in the few hours he had been out without supervision.

A quick search of the house found him playing by his toy-bucket, flipping one of his stuffed animals into the air and then practicing pouncing on it. I watched him play for a little bit before clearing my throat. Gizmo startled, then looked at me, gave his best doggy smile, and windmilled his tail wildly. In other words, he was doing his best "Aren't I just so cute?" look.

"Go to bed," I said, pointing at the door.

Gizmo looked at me like I was making up words.

"Bed." I repeated in a stronger tone, again pointing at the door. This time Gizmo came creeping towards me, stuffed toy in mouth, ears and tail low. He skulked along with me over to his night crate, and went right in when I opened the door. Of course, he was making little grumbling complaining noises the whole way.

A quick search of the house revealed that nothing had been destroyed; he apparently had spent the whole time he was out over playing with his toys. He's starting to mature into a very nice animal. Who knows, maybe some day I'll be able to trust him out of his crate alone, and he can play all night!

Stay tuned; tomorrow is this week's Photo Of The Week, and Monday I'm going to be discussing what foods are harmful to pet foxes!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What to Feed a Fox: Why Meat Is Important

A recurring debate in the pet community is whether or not to feed fresh meat. There are some who avoid feeding meat in any recognizable form to their fox. A common fear is that tasting meat or blood will somehow make the fox go "mean" or wild, and that they will never again be a suitable pet.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

I personally find the whole "once they get the taste of blood" concept to be fairly ridiculous, and for the life of me can't figure out why so many otherwise intelligent people parrot it. Yes, seeing a live mouse will turn on the predatory instinct--but once the mouse is pounced and eaten, the instinct goes back off. Seeing a mouse won't put a fox into "kill" mode for the rest of it's life--that's just ludicrous.

You can feed fresh meat, without your animal suddenly becoming a wild, unpredictable predator. Otherwise the instant your domestic cat happened to get lucky and catch a bird, it would suddenly become a feral animal that's unsuitable to be a pet.

Furthermore, meat contains many vital nutrients that are needed for a healthy, happy fox. One amino acid of particular importance to foxes is taurine, which is found exclusively in meat. Dog kibble alone generally does not contain sufficient amounts of taurine to meet a fox's needs. Meat is easier for a fox to digest than dry, grain-based kibble is, and it contains a much healthier ratio of fats. (To keep from going rancid on store shelves, dry kibble has to have a very low fat and oil content).

Of course, foxes are omnivores, and require more than just meat to survive, but the cornerstone of good fox nutrition is feeding good, high-quality meat. If you have your pet fox on a purely kibble diet, I encourage you to introduce at least a little meat to the mix. It's the first step to a healthier, happier fox.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Photo of the Week: 8/7/2010

This week's "Photo of the Week" is of a red fox kit practicing his quarry leap. Too cute for words!

Unfortunately, this little guy is likely to be captured and destroyed due to him being non-native to Morro Bay, and a threat to the Western Snowy Plover.

Make sure to come back Monday, when I'll be discussing whether or not it's a good idea to feed your pet fox fresh meat.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pet Fox Stories: Attack Of The Grocery Bag!

Sionnach the Fox
This is a story from the Sybil's Den Message Boards. Sionnach is another red fox, about Gizmo's age.

I'm not the one who wrote this, and I used it without permission; I will take it down if Stacey asks me to, but I thought it was too funny not to share.

"Picture if you will... a mild mannered fox living in a cabin in the woods of Wyoming (with his 2 people, 2 dogs and mean, mean cat). This fox finds it FASCINATING when his mom comes home from work because she works at a "whole foods" type store and almost every day brings food & other exciting items home in these cloth bags of various sizes. Invariably, even though she KNOWS the fox will immediately jump on the kitchen table to investigate, she places these bags on the table nonetheless. The following ensues... as she takes off her coat she says, "Sion, leave it those aren't for you". Sion takes three steps back, looks at this woman and then proceeds to go right back to poking his needle nose into the bags. This back and forth continues until all groceries, etc are put away and the cloth bags are hung back out in the mud room away from fox teeth, pee, etc.

EXCEPT - one day last week, one of those reusable bags you can buy at the grocery store was left on the kitchen table (you know the ones - usually green or black and you can buy them for like a dollar at the store). While the woman was still in the kitchen/ living room and the man was in the bedroom, the bag attacked!!!! The following events occured... Sion jumped off the table and the bag followed! Then he ran to the "baby gate" (which is up at times to keep the dogs from eating his food) and paused - thinking he'd lost the bag. The bag was still there! He then jumped over the gate, jumped up on the bed, jumped off the bed back over the baby gate into the kitchen - doubled back - jumped back over the baby gate - the bag still attached - then dove under the bed. Under the bed he successfully "lost" the bag. At this point his 2 people were laughing so hard tears were streaming down their faces. The fox was not amused and when I said, "Can you get the bag out from under the bed?". The reply from the "man" was (through laughter), "Are you nuts? I'm not sticking my hand under the bed 'til he comes out!!"

The moral of the story is... foxes should not stick their noses in things that don't belong to them - they might attack back!

PS - Sion still jumps up on the table to examine the bags EVERY time I come home!

PPS - No foxes were harmed in this story and Sion only had it stuck around one back leg."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Nail Care Part II: 7 Tips for Trimming Fox Nails

Nails in need of a trim.
Monday, I covered easy, hands-off techniques for maintaining your fox's nails. Today's article is about tips and tricks you can use for trimming a fox's nails.

The actual act of cutting a fox's nails is identical in most respects to trimming a dog's nails, and every trimming tool is different, so this isn't so much a step-by-step guide as it is tips that will apply no matter what tool you're using.

1. Start Young
The younger your pet fox is when you start a nail-trimming routine, the faster they'll become comfortable with it. It's a good idea to trim your kits nails at least once a week. (And if they don't particularly need trimmed, just go through the motions of doing it anyway.)

If getting their nails done is an established part of the routine, the fox will put up much less of a fuss about it later.

2. Handle Daily
Foxes, and most canines in general, are very sensitive about having their feet messed with. This natural aversion can be difficult to break, but like most things with foxes, patience and persistence will pay off. A few times a day, during both play and rest, examine your fox's feet. Touch them, look at the paw pads, gently spread the toes so you can get a better look at the nails, etc. Be gentle during your examinations, and work them into the routine. Over time, this will help desensitize your fox to having their feet touched.

Even after your pet fox is comfortable with having their feet handled, continue this practice. Ideally, for every one time you trim your fox's nails, there should be ten times that you just look at them without clipping. This will help to prevent your fox from associating getting their paws touched with the clippers.

3. Use a Clipper You're Comfortable With
The specific brand and style of the nail clipper is not important. Anything that will clip a dog's toenails will also work on a fox. What's important is that you're confident in using the clipper, and that it will not slip out of your grasp. (I personally prefer clippers that have a scissor-style grip on them.)

Because there are so many varieties of clipper, I can't give specific instructions on how to use them all. I will say that it's generally best to avoid "dremel" style nail-grinders, as the noise they produce tends to freak foxes out.

4. Wait 'Til He's Sleepy
It's much easier to clip the nails on a sleepy, worn-out fox than one who is hyper and ready to play.

5. Use Distractions
Depending on how toy-possessive your fox is, giving them a ball to chew on while you work on their nails can be a very effective strategy. I wouldn't recommend giving them a particularly new or well-loved ball; if it's too much of a treasure, the fox is likely to be protective of it.

Another technique is to have someone else rub and pet and distract the fox while you trim the nails.

6. Err on the Side of Too Long
Foxes are not very forgiving if you nip the quick while cutting their nails. It's best to leave the nails a smidgen too long than risk hitting the quick.

7. Watch for Sharp Edges
The toe nails are at their sharpest right after they've been clipped--use caution until the fox has had a day or two to wear the straight edge down.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nail Care Part I: Easy Ways to Keep Your Fox's Nails In Shape

For a lot of pets, nail clipping can be a major chore, and foxes are no different. I've found Gizmo to be very sensitive about his feet, and very creative in the ways he tries to avoid getting his toenails trimmed. Still, it is very important to make sure that your fox's nails are kept neat and trimmed.

Foxes walk on their toes, so long nails can make walking uncomfortable. Nails that get too long can splinter or break, which is extremely painful for the animal, and can cause profuse bleeding. Such open wounds are the perfect gateway for infection, and can cause serious illness. Worse, as the nail grows, so does the quick, so if the toenails are neglected for too long, it can become impossible to trim them back without hurting the fox further.

The easiest way to tell whether your fox's nails are getting to be a bit long is to walk him or her across a hard surface. If the nails touch the floor or make a noise as the fox walks, they are too long and need to be trimmed back.

One great way to keep nails filed down is to take your fox on frequent walks. Of course, this depends heavily on how social and at home in public your fox is, the temperament of your neighborhood in regards to pet foxes, and local laws. But for foxes and locales that will allow it, an hour-long walk on a concrete sidewalk each day is a wonderful way to keep nails filed down. To be effective, the walks must be of considerable length, and must be taken daily. For a long time, this was all the nail maintenance Gizmo required. And on top of the benefits to the nails, this is also a great way to exercise your fox (and yourself!) and to get rid of his or her excess energy.

Another possibility is to give your fox frequent access to rough material to dig in, such as a kiddie-pool full of gravel. Foxes are natural diggers, and are usually happy to make use of any digging material you provide for them. As always, be careful that your pet fox cannot dig out of their enclosure, and frequently check their paw-pads for any sign of wear and damage. If their paws seem cracked or raw, take away their digging spot until the damage heals, and replace it later with a less-abrasive material.

For many foxes, these two things used consistently are all that is needed to keep their toenails in good condition. However, sometimes they are not enough, and additional care is needed to keep the fox's toenails in good shape--sitting down and trimming the nails is necessary.

Wednesday I'll be covering tips and advice for clipping your pet fox's nails if they get a bit too long.