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.
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.