changed food, now very smelly

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blwinteler

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Hi. I changed my bunnies' food gradually about a month ago because I couldn't get the pellets and hay I got in Colorado. Now, my living room (where their cage is) stinks. OMG. It is terrible! Is it the food change? Or did I just not notice it before? I think they have been peeing in the dining room (which is really just their play room. In the 5 years we've lived here, I think we have eaten there maybe 4 times). What can I do about the smell? What is the reason? They are behaving perfectly fine, their happy, bouncy selves. Only difference is that they seem to be getting more comfortable with us. Bugsy snuggles tons when picked up, even when I sit down with him (which is when he used to wriggle away). Groucho investigates us more each day. So, I don't think anything is wrong. What do I need to do?

EDITED TO ADD: They LOVE the new pellets and are ok with the new hay. I got both at IFA Country Store.
 
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JBun

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How old are they now? What is the smell like? Is it a strong ammonia smell, fishy, skunky, or just plain urine smell? What type of litter box setup do you have and the type of litter you use? How often is it cleaned out? Also what brand of pellets and protein % were you feeding before this, and what is the protein % of the ones you are feeding now? What kind of hay?
 

blwinteler

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Honestly, I don't know. I was given a 25 lb bag of pellets that the shelter gets from the feed store and there was no label. The new ones also don't have it listed, but it was all I could find that wasn't at the pet store with all the crap they don't need. I've tried finding the information online, but not had much luck. It is the IFA Country Store brand. I found a pdf file using google. Below is a screen shot of what it says about the food. Two foods are shown and I don't know which I have :(
They are getting timothy hay. They always had timothy hay. I don't know where the shelter got it. The first hay I got was from my aunt, who has a ranch (they LOVED that hay - couldn't get enough). Now, I have a bale from IFA.
Anyway, the smell is a strong urine/ammonia smell. They have a large box in their cage with wood pellets. They poop all over their cage, but keep the pee and a fair amount of poop in their box. It is cleaned out every other day, just as before. I have had them for 2 1/2 months. When I got them, Bugsy was around 13 months and Groucho was six months.

ifa rabbit.jpg
 
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JBun

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Alright. Well since you don't know what food they were on before, I'll just make a guess that it has to do with the protein in the pellets and the source of that protein. This is what I have learned about pellets and protein. Excess protein in the urine makes the urine STINK like ammonia. The source of the protein also makes a difference, and I learned this trying to switch my rabbits pellets. For the past year I had been feeding Sherwood forest pellets. The protein level is pretty high, I think 18%, and the protein comes from alfalfa hay, but my rabbits pee didn't stink like ammonia, and I have 11 rabbits indoors, so this makes a big difference in odor control. At one point several months ago, I decided trying to switch to a different rabbit food that had 16% protein, but it had soy meal as one of the sources of its protein. I didn't get even halfway through trying to switch before my rabbits room started stinking like ammonia. So I decided to keep them on the Sherwood food. As soon as they were switched back and off of the rabbit food with soy, the ammonia smell stopped. I now have them on a different rabbit food that doesn't have soy meal in it, and same thing as the Sherwood, no strong ammonia smell. Most rabbit foods have soy meal in them, but the problem with soy is that part of the protein can't be utilized and so is excreted in the urine, creating that annoying ammonia smell.

It's possible that your previous rabbit food didn't have soy meal in it or not as much as your current rabbit food, so you are now noticing the increased smell. Aside from changing pellets, it may help some if you have a thick layer of wood pellets so that the pee drains to the bottom and is covered up by the pellets and sawdust, so that it helps trap the smell better. You may have to change more often too, at least the wet part. When I had tried to switch my buns pellets and they started to stink, I was having to clean out litter boxes every day.

The other alternative is switching pellets to something with no soy or a lower amount. Maybe you got the ifa bag with 20%, and that could be one good reason for the stronger smell. If you still have your receipt it probably has which type of feed it is that you bought. You could try a lower protein pellet or try calling the shelter and asking what kind of pellets they use.

Aren't your buns angoras? Do they need a higher protein pellet?
 

funnybunnymummy

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Some brands contain yucca extract which cuts down on the ammonia smell. The brand I use here in Canada (Martin's) has the yucca extract and it helps a lot (I tried switching Gus to alfalfa for a while a few years ago--pe-ew!).

Hope that helps!

Rue
 

blwinteler

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Thank you.
I have a ton (ok, it was a 50 lb bag, so not a ton) of these pellets and no money, so I have to stick with it for now. I will increase the wood pellets in their box and just deal with the smell for now. When I get close to the end of these, I guess I'll have to find another place to get pellets. There are a couple of feed stores in town. Most are a bit far from me, but that is ok.
Yes, they are both part angora. Not sure if that means they need higher protein or not.
Also, the shelter said "Sweeny's rabbit pellets" and I can't find that anywhere. Maybe it is a particular feed store in Colorado Springs? And the 25 lb bag I got from them lasted me about a month and a half, so I probably have 2+ months left with the new pellets.

:pink iris:
 
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We have 7 in one bedroom without any real smell issues. We use pellets from Wal Mart but only buy a 10 pound bag at a time as we don't give them very much--they get veggies twice a day and unlimited orchard grass so our biggest gets two tablespoons at night and the rest slightly less. Also use pets pick kiln dried pine in their litter pans from the same store Wally World of course. The only thing I do notice is that Bambi, our mini Rex doesn't eat her cecotropes and they do have a bit of a smell.
 

DogCatMom

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Some rabbit folk put ACV (apple cider vinegar) in the bunnies' water to help counteract the alkalinity of their urine. Something like 1 Tb per gallon of water, maybe?

Certainly sounds like a safe amount, in any case. :)
 

blwinteler

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I went to the feed store on Saturday for wood pellets. I asked about the protein content in the rabbit food and it is 20%. They did not have a label at the register and I didn't send them to see what the protein type is. Anyway, the smell is back to normal, with only a few smelly poops once in a while.
 
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