|Feeding Your Pet Rabbit|
What Should I Feed My Rabbit
Feeding Your Pet Rabbit
A house rabbit's diet will normally consist of :
*Alfalfa hay contains more protein and calcium than most house rabbits require. Excess protein can lead to weight gain, excess calcium can cause health problems. When shopping for hay choose
grass hays like Timothy, Brome, Oat or Orchard Grass.
Age, activity and illness may require dietary adjustments
or differences. Most rabbit vets will recommend very limited pellets and
unlimited hay. However, rabbits who have difficulty putting on weight or
maintaining it may need a different diet.
A good rule of thumb is 1oz. per pound, so a smaller 4lb. rabbit would require no more than 1/2 cup per day.
TIP: One way to avoid overfeeding pellets is to purchase very small food bowls that hold 1/2 cup or less.
Pellet Free Diets
Not all rabbits will tolerate pellets, although most will absolutely love to eat them. One common side effect of overfeeding pellets is weight gain and "poopy butt", very soft stool that clings to the fur and is not hard or round. Too many carbs and proteins can really foul up a rabbits digestive track and what should be coming out as cute little marbles is now a soft mushy mess stuck to bunnies tooshie - poopy butt. Eek!
In an effort to avoid digestive issues, weight gain and simply give bunny the healthiest diet possible many vets recommend going with a pellet free diet when possible. That in itself is the source of some very heated discussions. We are basically pellet free around here (we give pellets as treats) but we offer a variety of fresh vegetables daily and unlimited timothy hay.
Veggies are another necessity in bunnies diet but these should
be introduced slowly and not given in excess or diarrhea/poopy
butt may result. Introduce
new vegetables one at a time and try to give a variety of at least 3 different veggies a day.
Here is a list of suggested vegetables from the House Rabbit Society.
Hay is essential for many reasons:
Sweets For The Sweet?
Rabbits love sugar but should not be given cookies, chocolate or many of the other people treats they often are. I frequently read about owners feeding their rabbits table scraps and cringe. I make no apologies when I say that part of loving your pet is making sure they are healthy and fed properly. But it's obvious that some people are simply not aware of what is considered healthy and what is harmful. Many may not understand their rabbit's unique digestive system or the harm they could be doing by not feeding their rabbit properly.
Fruit should be seen as a treat and given in small quantities but you can use this to your advantage. One very easy way to get a new rabbit accustomed to you is to offer treats from your hand. A small piece of... banana, pear, apple, pineapple, papaya, strawberry etc. can be given as a bribe in exchange for bunnies attention. Be careful not to over do it though, excess sugar can lead to weight gain and diarrhea. Fruits are high in sugar as are carrots, which should also be seen as a treat rather than a staple.
*Very young bunnies should not be given fruit or vegetables. Veggies can be introduced into their diet around 12 weeks of age and fruits usually around 6 months.
My Bunny Is Not Eating
As prey animals bunnies are believed to disguise illness well. If your bunny has not been willing to eat anything over the course of a day see the vet. Rabbits who stop eating can go downhill very quickly, don't waste any time. A rabbits digestion and need to graze mean that their guts should be continually moving. Not eating could have many causes such as G.I. stasis, tooth problems, pain, gas or other illness.
It's important to be aware of health issues as soon as possible, especially in rabbits! This is a good reason to use a proper size food bowl. Using a small bowl that holds a daily portion can help you see any dietary changes quickly. Likewise, using a litter pan can help you see a decrease in poop which could indicate trouble.
For more information on bunnies dietary needs I recommend one of these good bunny books.
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