With another new year approaching, does your rabbit need to turn over a new (cabbage) leaf? If you’re worried your bunny is looking a bit chunky, it could be time for a better diet.
At Avenue Veterinary Clinic, every year we see increasing numbers of overweight pets from in and around Kettering, including rabbits.
Pets of a healthy weight are less prone to illnesses and likely to live a longer, happier life, so it’s well worth making the effort to improve any fitness problems that you’ve noticed.
In the wild, rabbits are kept fit by having to obtain their own food and run away from danger – neither of which are common challenges for a domestic pet.
Why is excess weight a problem for rabbits?
Fat rabbits can’t groom themselves properly or perform other essential natural activities, which can lead to unhygienic conditions and thus attract flies. Flystrike is a nasty condition that’s often fatal. Overweight rabbits can also struggle with arthritis as they get older.
How to tell if your rabbit is too fat
If it’s winter, your rabbit will look more well-padded than usual due to a thicker coat – so you need to examine them, not just look at them. Fatty areas on their shoulders, legs and groin areas are usually a giveaway, as is a rounded stomach. If you need help determining your rabbit’s condition, please don’t hesitate to ask Helen or another of our vet nurses for advice. It’s easy to make an appointment with us.
Improve your rabbit’s diet
Our team can help to put together a suitable weight-loss programme for your rabbit, including dietary changes. However, as a basic guide, you shouldn’t be feeding more than one tablespoon of concentrated dry food for every kilogram of body weight. If you are, then gradually reduce it to this level. In addition, your rabbit should have good-quality hay, grass and greens each day.
It’s also important for your rabbit to have access to a secure area to run around. In spring, summer and autumn this could be a fenced-off area in your garden, whereas in winter it might be an indoor room that’s been cleared of potentially dangerous items (and carefully secured, in case of other pets).