Obesity

Obesity

Domestic rabbits are often overfed by their owners. Your rabbit needs a good diet and plenty of exercise for good health. Over feeding is the leading cause of obesity in rabbits, and overweight rabbits can suffer medical issues because of it. Maintaining a healthy weight can help your rabbit live a long happy life! Weigh your rabbit monthly and note any increases or decreases and talk to your vet about your findings
and concerns. Click here to download our brochure.


Is your rabbit fat?

How can you tell if your rabbit is overweight? With so many different breeds, and mixed breeds, there is no standard set weight for a rabbit. Your vet can help you determine if your rabbits weight is a concern. A primary location for fat on a rabbit is in their belly. If you run your hands along the side of your rabbit, when you reach their ribs, you should be able to feel a slight inward slope which is their waist. Rabbits that are overweight or obese, will have an area that balloons out rather than going in.


Obese rabbits

  • Have high resting heart rates
  • Have a difficult time grooming themselves
  • Often cannot reach to consume their caecotrophs (cecals)
    required to help maintain their health
  • Can have soft stools
  • Growth of a dewlap
  • Have an increased risk of arthritis
  • Are more prone to having sludgy urine or cystitis
  • Are more prone to sore hocks
  • Are at risk of developing cardiac hypertrophy and hypertension
  • Are at higher risk going under anesthetic


Balanced diet

A healthy diet is essential for a healthy rabbit! A rabbit is meant to eat hay and vegetables. Deviate too far from this diet and problems may occur. A balanced diet includes:

  1. HAY –unlimited quantities
  2. VEGETABLES – 2 cups per 6 lbs of weight serving 3 or more kinds daily
  3. PELLETS – 1/4 cup per 5 – 7 lbs of bunny
  4. FRUIT/TREATS – 1 – 2 tbsps per 5 lbs of bunny


AVOID:

  1. Nuts, seeds, corn – high in fat, can cause blockages
  2. Sugar and dairy (ie yogurt drops) – rabbits are vegans
  3. Human snacks – not suited for rabbits
  4. Chocolate & raisins which can be toxic for bunnies


Changing Diet

When changing your bunny’s diet it is essential that you make changes slowly! Monitor your bunny to make sure he or she is eating as some will refuse at first if they are not offered their favourite foods. Any decrease in food amounts need to be done extremely slowly and with the guidance of your vet. Loosing weight too quickly can harm their liver. Make sure your rabbit always has access to lots of timothy hayand exercise!


Preferred foods

HAY – Grass Hays such as Timothy, Brome, Oat and Orchard
VEGETABLES – Romaine, Red, or Green Lettuce, Parsley, Basil, Dill, Dandelion, Carrot tops, Endive, Escarole, radicchio.
PELLETS – Timothy based pellets for adult rabbits (alfalfa for babies)
FRUIT/TREATS (sparingly only!!) – Banana, Strawberries, Watermelon, Apple, Papaya, Dried cranberries (sugar and oil free), Carrot


Exercise

Rabbits need safe activities to keep their bodies and minds healthy. Healthy outlets must be provided to bunnies for indulging their desire and need to chew, dig, climb, fling, hide, hop and run.

Provide your bunny with lots of toys and a large bunny proofed area to roam. Toys do not have to be expensive or even bought.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Empty toilet or paper towel tubes
  • Paper bags with or without bunny treats in them (make a bunny pinata)
  • Cardboard boxes and construction concrete forms made into condos and tunnels and frequently rearranged
  • Stuffed animals without parts that can be chewed off and choked on
  • Hard plastic rattles, keys and rings
  • Fleece towels/blankets (watch for signs of chewing)
  • Untreated apple or willow branches
  • Untreated wicker, grass baskets or mats
  • Pine cones washed and dried for at least 4 months