What’s Up Doc?

What's Up Doc?

Giving your rabbit a fresh and healthy diet is a very important aspect to a rabbits health. Many people look at the cartoon character, Bugs Bunny, and automatically think a rabbits diet consists of carrots. This is false. Carrots can be given as a treat in small amounts every once in a while. Carrots are high in calcium and if too much is ingested by a rabbit, calcium stones can develop which can require surgical removal. Here are some tips on what an individual should feed their rabbit to promote a long and happy life.

Rabbits are very sensitive animals that require lots of care. They are easily prone to getting gastrointestinal issues and most of the time it is caused from a poor diet. The number one thing that needs to be in your rabbits diet is hay. Hay is a great source of fiber for a rabbit and helps everything flow smoothly in the GI tract. Specifically Timothy Hay. Other hays, such as Alfalfa Hay is not healthy for a rabbit. That can also cause GI issues. Timothy Hay should be given all throughout the day. An unlimited amount. Rabbits are not considered rodents but they are considered to be in the Lagomorphs family. Although they are very similar to a rodent. Rabbits teeth don’t stop growing so they constantly need to nibble on something. One of the best ways for them to file their teeth down is by chewing on hay throughout the day. It they don’t have something to chew on consistently their teeth can grow to the point where they get Malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth). If this happens then the rabbit needs to be seen by a veterinarian that specializes in small and exotic animals. The teeth would need to basically be clipped. If this condition goes untreated then the rabbit will not be able to eat or drink and then it can lead to death. So always provide your rabbit with fresh timothy hay.

That’s not it folks. In a rabbit food dish, a rabbit can be given a small amount of plain pellets. The pellets with the different colored treats in them are no good. It’s too much sugar that is considered junk food for a rabbit. If pellets are given it’s important to make sure the pellets have a protein level of 12-14% and that contains no animal fat. It’s important not to overfeed your rabbit pellets. It can cause many health issues and can result in obesity. Instead, it’s best to give your rabbit a small amount of pellets and more fresh veggies. Fresh greens are the best way to go but it’s important to switch up the greens three times a day. Giving the same vegetable to your rabbit is unhealthy and can cause toxicity from overfeeding your rabbit that same vegetable. Vegetables such as Parsley and Spinach can be given in the first sitting. In the second sitting, vegetables such as Romaine Lettuce can be given. Lastly, snacks like Carrots or Bell Peppers can be given in small amounts during the last sitting. As far as fruits go, those should be given as a snack in small amounts. Fruits such as apples. The green leafy vegetables are the most important and switching them up as well.

It’s important not to feed your rabbit any foods from the onion family such as, onions, or chives. Foods like these can cause issues with their bloodstream. Also, starches should be avoided. They contain too many carbohydrates and can cause gastrointestinal issues.  Furthermore, iceberg lettuce should never be given to your pet rabbit.  It can cause diarrhea.

Feeding your rabbit healthy foods, such as hay and fresh greens, help everything flow smoothly in the GI tract. Unlike dogs and cats, rabbits cannot vomit. So it’s important that they are being fed healthy foods. Rabbits have two types of stool. Their normal everyday stool that you see are the round dry fecal pellets. What most people don’t know is that rabbits have another type of stool where they eat it and digest any nutrients that were not absorbed during the first cycle. Their GI tract contains an organ called a Cecum. That’s where it converts everything into nutrients and that’s the reason why rabbits ingest their own feces. These types of feces look like small round particles of stool that usually stick together. Anyway, another thing to remember is that rabbits are herbivores. Don’t feed them meat!

If by any chance your rabbit is not acting like its normal self, bring the pet to an animal hospital to be seen by a veterinarian. Rabbits are on the bottom of the food chain and tend to hide their sicknesses. Also, if a rabbit is eating less or not eating at all, this is considered an emergency. Please seek veterinary attention. Any questions or concerns can be answered by a veterinarian that specializes in small animals and exotics. Many veterinarians don’t deal with rabbits on a daily basis so it’s important to do the proper research. Rabbits need veterinary care too!