Maintain Rabbit Digestion

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We know rabbits are herbivores, but what are the best types foods out there?

Before I get to that, let me tell you aboutsome foods youshould scale back in your rabbit's meals, one of them being commercial pellets. Now they are not necessarily bad, but they should be given on a minimal basis, becausegiving them too many pellets cancause obesity and digestive issues. If at all possible, pellets should be relegated in the realm of treats, or a snack now and then. However, try giving your rabbits sweet fruits instead. Fruits dipped in any kind of syrup or sugar is not preferred. High carbohydrates and sugar can also cause digestive problems.

Like humans, rabbits need dark, leafy greens with no pesticides, but even the greens should be given sparingly. And be sure to wash all vegetables.If possible, try to get your veggies from an organic supply or grocery store. And yes, carrots are just fine, along with broccoli, dandelion greens and parsley. Mustard greens, kale and spinach are high in oxalates and should only be given with only three meals per week.

Avoid cauliflower, beans, rhubarb and cabbage.

According to the House Rabbit Society, rabbits need a minimum of 20-25 percent fiber, 14 percent protein and 1 percent of calcium.

And Now the Real Feeding Begins...

Check with your local vet to see how often you should feed your rabbit, but the ideal frequency for most is 2-4 times daily. Give one-fourthcup for every five pounds.

The first thing you're rabbit will need is hay. It is the most important part of a rabbit's diet, and it will need unlimited supply. Even when the rabbit does not seem interested in the hay, have it around for later. Greens should only be given once a week. A diet heavy on daily greens can cause complications.

You can slowly transition from alfalfa to grass by mixing them in slowly over time. With babies, start introducing them to vegetables around 12 weeks, andone at a time. Work your way up to mixed vegetables, but watch their stool. If you notice any diarrhea, withdraw any new vegetable you addedto their diet. The goal is to increase vegetables over time while decreasing pellets.

For babies, start them on alfalfa in the first six months, then slowly decrease until the bunnies are on grass hay in one year. Your alfalfa hay will make a good source of calcium, but Timothy hay is the ideal choice, because it decreases hairballs from accumulating in your rabbit's stomach.

Maintain Rabbit Digestion - uvengwa - a-small-rabbit-1346499791wtv-12.jpg

If your rabbit is having any sort of digestive problems it may be accumulating hairballs. As with any other animal, rabbits may simply need some exercise to push out any fur balls. Rabbits should be getting exercise often, especially ones that spend most of their hours in cages. Allow your bunny to play in a safe area in your home, or in an enclosed area. And if that does not work, try to feed it pineapple. The acidity will aid expelling any hair build-up, but don't leave it any longer in the cage more than five minutes. If your rabbit rejects the pineapple, you may have to force-feed it.

Signs of Stomach Emergencies

If your rabbit does not eat anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, take it to the emergency room. Rabbits are known for their sensitive digestion, and it could very well die in 24 hours or less if the problem is not addressed. And keep an eyeon its eating habits, since bunnies can be active and alert without eating for a week. For serious gastrointestinal problems, watch to see if your bunny's appetite has been severely reduced going over 24 hours. If it is eating cardboard or paper in anyway, it is trying to get fiber. And be on the lookout for water or pudding-like stool samples.

If you spot these things early enough, it is an easy process at the vet in treating any serious digestive complications. Also, be mindful of the rabbit's environment. Stress is also known to have caused digestive and intestinal issues.


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2 COMMENTS
Posted: 
December 15, 2013  •  06:42 AM
all this is one person's opinion. There are MANY different ways of feeding a rabbit in a healthy manner.

Some choose to feed pellets. Some will choose pellets and hay/hay cubes. Others will do a natural diet consisting of hay, tree branches, grasses, weeds. Others will feed a grain based diet. There are so many ways of feeding a rabbit well that it all depends upon the person doing the chore of feeding the rabbit. The thing to consider is... is your rabbit healthy and active? Does it feel the way a rabbit should? Is it acting the way a rabbit should? If not doing pellets, what are you doing to maintaining trace nutrients in the diet? Salts/minerals and the like.
 
Posted: 
September 19, 2014  •  10:08 AM
All recommendations on feeding rabbits are opinions, as 'facts' are hard to prove when there just isn't a lot of data-heavy research on rabbit diets (there is some, but it tends to be difficult to interpret). But if one follows the majority of opinions by those with a lot of experience treating rabbits with diseases resulting from improper diets, and experience keeping and raising rabbits on diets that best keep rabbits from developing diet-related diseases, then those might be the opinions you might take some stock in, and perhaps follow.

It is the opinion of most rabbit veterinarians that though there certainly are many ways to feed rabbits, there are NOT many ways to feed rabbits in a 'healthy manner'. Rabbits have one of the most specialized gastrointestinal tracts of all the pets we keep (even more so than a cat's, which is specifically designed to eat animal protein). Rabbits are designed to eat and get maximal nutrition from a seemingly (to most people) minimal diet. And any excess or variance outside this minimal diet can lead to serious problems (does NOT mean every diet indiscretion WILL lead to serious problems, but it is far more likely to over time). Following the recommendation of those that have the most experience and success in treating rabbit gastrointestinal, and related dietary disease, sounds like a good idea to me.

For one of the best written 'opinions' on how to feed a pet rabbit properly, looking up Susan Brown DVM's articles on feeding pet rabbits.
 
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