Is your rabbit fibre fit?1st June 2017
Of all the problems we see in rabbits at Bollington Veterinary Centre, most of them are as a result of feeding the wrong diet. A poor diet can lead to dental disease and all sorts of digestive problems. It’s so important to try and mimic what your rabbit would eat in the wild as much as possible.
If there is one ‘take home message’ with rabbits these days, it is ‘Feed fibre rich foods’ such as good quality hay.
Did you know?
- Fibre is absolutely essential for rabbits.
- Hay and grass are ideal sources of fibre.
- Fibre helps maintain normal gut movement.
- It helps normal wear down of the incisors and molar teeth.
- Offer about 5% of the rabbit’s body weight of hay per day.
- 90% of a rabbit's diet should consist of hay and fresh grass.
- Hay and grass encourages rabbits to search or ‘forage’ for food.
- Don’t feed muesli style diets to rabbits as this will cause severe dental problems.
At Bollington Veterinary Centre we are passionate about good nutrition and the importance of high fibre diets. We can supply you with the very best quality feeding hay and concentrates for your pet, so don’t hesitate to ask us.
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4 common problems we see as a result of poor nutrition
1. Sore eyes – look for a watery or milky discharge from the eyes, leaving an area of sore, inflamed skin and hair loss. The tear duct can become blocked by pus and debris. The condition is often caused by damage to the roots of the teeth, which is itself caused by a poor diet.
2. Overgrown teeth - perhaps the commonest problem we see in rabbits at Bollington Veterinary Centre. Rabbit teeth continually grow and need to be worn down through the grinding action of chewing grass. If this is compromised, then the teeth don’t meet properly and rapidly overgrow. Did you know that rabbits front teeth grow up to 2-3mm a week and their back teeth 2-3mm a month?
3. Fly strike - during the summer months, rabbits are vulnerable to attack from fly maggots. The eggs are laid on the fur and when they hatch, the emerging maggots will feed on the tissue of the rabbit. Rabbits with soft faeces, diarrhoea or bladder problems are most at risk, and these are usually the ones that have diets low in fibre. Please make sure that rabbit hutches and litter trays are cleaned out regularly to avoid attracting flies; particularly in the summer months. If you notice eggs or maggots in your hutch, litter tray or on your rabbit, treat this as an emergency and call us immediately. Preventative treatments are available to protect your rabbit from fly strike.
4. Obesity - pet rabbits can become very overweight very quickly through overfeeding and lack of exercise. It’s important to check you pet’s weight regularly and always measure the quantity of food you give. Try to avoid giving treats that are high in carbohydrates and sugar as these can lead to weight gain.
If you notice any of these problems, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to see one of our vets or nurses.
At Bollington Veterinary Centre we’re here to help. We can help weigh your rabbit, discuss its nutritional needs and make suggestions on what you should feed.
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