Rabbit Awareness Week 2018

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It is Rabbit Awareness week from Monday 4th to Friday 8th June.

We will be offering free rabbit health checks during that week.  Please call the practice to book an appointment.

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Move Away From Muesli

This year’s campaign is all about encouraging owners to move away from muesli towards a high-fibre hay based diet for their rabbits.

A popular misconception is feeding rabbits the traditional muesli diet. This should be avoided as it prevents your bunny from getting some valuable nutrients as they will favour the tasty bits and not always eat the others. Instead, a pellet type biscuit is preferred as it will be more balanced. A small egg cup per rabbit can be given daily; this can be provided in bowls or hidden through hay or in treat balls. This part of the diet should only make up 5% of your rabbits daily food intake. Some people feed a ‘complete’ diet, this should be completely avoided, it may have all the appropriate nutrients but it does not allow them to continuously graze or wear down their teeth sufficiently.

HAY! I need HAY!

Rabbits have a complex digestive system, which can cause problems if fed the wrong thing or not enough of the good things. In the wild rabbits will graze on fresh grass throughout their day in order to keep their gut moving and their teeth in tip top condition. Grazing continuously is vital to the digestive system, if the gut stops moving this can cause a serious condition called Gut Stasis. In addition to this, their teeth need a constant work out to keep them at a suitable length as these can grow a few centimetres each month. If they are not fed an appropriate diet which allows them to grind down their teeth, painful spurs can occur which will dig into the cheeks and mouth- which in turn may stop them from eating all together.

All rabbits, whether indoor or outdoor, should have a constant supply of hay or fresh grass (do not give lawn clippings as these ferment). Hay should make up 80% of your rabbits diet, an offering of hay around the size of each rabbit should be available at all times. The hay should have a fibre content of at least 20% (this can be checked on the back of the packet), dry, sweet smelling and free of grit/dust. Ideally the hay should have long strands to encourage chewing. To encourage natural foraging behaviour small pieces of fruit or tasty vegetables can be hidden amongst hay. There are many types of hay available, timothy hay is ideal for every day feeding where as alfalfa hay should be given as a treat (such as a small quantity mixed through your rabbits normal hay).

 

Appropriate Hay

 

Fresh greens should also be on offer for your rabbit. This will only make up 15% of their diet and should be offered in small quantities (a handful per rabbit). Rabbits love broccoli, spring greens, kale and herbs such as parsley although there are many other things that can be given. Contrary to popular belief carrots should not be given regularly as they are extremely high in sugar, and should instead be given as treats. For this reason fruit should also be saved for tasty rewards, such as grapes or a slice of apple.

RABBIT FRIENDLY FOOD
EVERY DAY FEEDING TREATS
Broccoli Spinach Banana
Brussel Sprouts Watercress Blackberries
Cabbage Basil Blueberries
Carrot tops (green leafy part) Coriander Cherries
Cauliflower Parsley Grapes
Celery Oregano Raspberries
Curly Kale Rocket Strawberries

Romaine lettuce is rabbit friendly but all other types of light coloured lettuce should be avoided e.g. Iceberg.

Another popular misconception is feeding rabbits the traditional muesli diet. This should be avoided as it prevents your bunny from getting some valuable nutrients as they will favour the tasty bits and not always eat the others. Instead, a pellet type biscuit is preferred as it will be more balanced. A small egg cup per rabbit can be given daily; this can be provided in bowls or hidden through hay or in treat balls. This part of the diet should only make up 5% of your rabbits daily food intake. Some people feed a ‘complete’ diet, this should be completely avoided, it may have all the appropriate nutrients but it does not allow them to continuously graze or wear down their teeth sufficiently.

Fresh water should also be made readily available to your rabbit. This can either be given in a bottle or a bowl, ideally both should be offered. Heavier ceramic bowls should be used as this can help prevent spillages. During winter, bottles should have a cover to prevent them from freezing over.

The Perfect Poo- A Happy Bum Means a Happy Bun!

If you are feeding your rabbit the correct and balanced diet, you should see dark coloured hard faecal droppings- these almost look like compressed hay. If they do not look like this you may need to alter your rabbit’s diet by increasing hay and decreasing other elements such as dried biscuits or vegetables. Veterinary advice should be sought if droppings are loose o r watery.

You may see softer small droppings with some mucous, these are caecatrophs. Normally your rabbit will eat these directly from the anus (as this allows them to get the maximum nutritional value by re-digesting)- don’t be surprised if you haven’t witnessed your rabbit doing this as it may just look like grooming or they may do it during dusk/dawn. If you are seeing caecatrophs it is very important to seek veterinary advice as it can be a result of digestive issues or teeth problems.

We are happy to help you with nutritional advice for you bunny or any questions you may have over their current diet. Please get in touch to arrange an appointment or to speak to a member of staff.

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MORE INFORMATION DURING RABBIT AWARENESS WEEK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be offering free rabbit health checks during this week so please call the practice to make an appointment.

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