Welcome to the August edition of our ‘What does pet health look like?’ series. This month, we are going to focus on responsible feeding and diet. Though we love to treat our pets (and sometimes ourselves!) it’s important to learn about moderation and make decisions about the food we are feeding our furry friends. Whether it’s about how much is too much, or what is the right diet for your pet, the independent, expert advice on our website is here to help.
In our latest blog we explore expert advice on keeping rabbits happy and healthy through what they eat with a little help from proud owner of rabbits Gus and Panda, Liz from North Yorkshire. Read on for more.
What should rabbits eat on a typical day?
Rabbits need fresh, unrestricted hay throughout the day - access to this type of hay is not just tastier but will also help promote good digestive and dental health as well as helping rabbits display natural behaviours around foraging as they would in the wild.
With fibre making up the majority of your rabbits’ diet, hay and grass should be supplemented with a specially formulated rabbit food (for example pellets), which provides all the nutrients in the correct amounts and proportions. Rabbits can also be given fresh vegetables, but make sure these are given in moderation. Leafy vegetables provide variety, but despite what many think, root vegetables such as carrots should not be fed too often. Last but by no means least, make sure your rabbit has access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Liz says: “Late afternoon I top up Gus and Panda’s pellets with a handful or more of hay, and sometimes a treat of either some carrot or kale or some cabbage leaves. They also love to invade the herb garden; particularly to find the fresh mint. I avoid feeding them too much veg at once, which can give them a sore tummy for a few days.”
How do you check rabbits are eating the right amount?
Make sure your rabbit has access to the fibre-rich foods mentioned above at all times and replenish these daily. When it comes to supplementing these with specially formulated rabbit food, to provide your pet with all the nutrients he or she needs, make sure you follow the directions on the packet to ensure that the amount is right for your rabbit’s individual needs – including ensuring its appropriate for their life stage. When feeding pellets or nuggets, a general rule of thumb is to feed no more than an egg cup per rabbit per day but always refer to the advice on pack and talk to your vet or a pet expert if you need further guidance.
Liz says: “I check the table on Gus and Panda’s rabbit food packaging to compare the size of rabbit/ breed to what they should be eating. I also check they are finishing their food and snacks equally each day. Finally, I go to the vets with them for check-ups to make sure that their weight is perfect.”
What other benefits does feeding rabbits roughage such as hay and grass bring?
It gives them something to grind their teeth with. Rabbits don’t tend to suffer from cavities as such, but can suffer from spurs due to insufficient grinding of the teeth. For this reason, eating roughage such as hay and grass help to combat this risk.
And finally, we asked Liz how important she thinks a good diet is for Gus and Panda?
Liz says: “It’s vital for their health and wellbeing. In the winter I feel it is even more important to make sure they get the right amounts of roughage along with their pellets, so they remain happy and healthy throughout the colder season.”
Share your own rabbit-feeding tips by tweeting us @IheartmypetUK.
The next instalment in our series will look at annual check-ups/veterinary consultations.
If you have pet rabbits and you’re looking for some advice on feeding them, read our article on “How To Feed Your Rabbit” here for the hows and whats.
Further feeding advice for pets: combatting obesity in dogs and cats
Obese pets are more likely to suffer from conditions such as arthritis, breathing difficulties, heart problems and diabetes. If you are looking for some advice on obesity, either on treatment or prevention we have plenty of information for dogs and cats. Don’t be too worried if your pet is diagnosed as overweight because it’s not an irreversible condition and getting your pet back to a healthy waistline doesn’t have to be a daunting task! Take them out for a day in the park or spend a little extra time after work playing in the garden. Read our May blog from our #pethealth series for some additional guidance here.
The full ‘What does pet health look like?’ series includes a range of relevant topics throughout the year such as preventing ticks, fleas, worms and skin conditions; responsible feeding, diet and exercise; dental care; travel healthcare; and the importance of companionship.