Factors contributing to rabbit weight loss?

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amandaaaa_xxo

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So I've been noticing that my rabbit Wilson is losing weight. It seems as though every week when he is due for a weigh in, he loses grams. Two weeks ago he was 2.2kg. Last week he was 2kg and today I went in again and he is currently 1.94kg.

He had dental surgery 3 weeks ago. It has only been a few days ago that he is starting to eat his hay but not as much as he is meant to. His diet is the following:

Unlimited oaten hay
1/4 cup pellets
Celery stalks
Celery leaves
Parsley
Cos lettuce
Carrots
Bananas
Apples
Water

He seems to demolish his greens, fruits and vegetables everyday. He eats his pellets (but not to the point where he finishes his bowl) and he eats a few pieces of hay a day.

Everyday, twice a day, I've been instructed to give him 0.7ml of meloxicam to help reduce the inflammation and pain post surgery (cheek and tongue ulcers) to make it easier for him to eat. He's still on the pain meds.

He is due for another weigh in next week and I was told that if he loses more, that I will be talked through some options in which will help him gain weight. In the mean time though, does anyone know why or what could contribute to his weight loss? I can honestly say that he was well between 4-5 kilos and I know this is 'overweight' for a holland dwarf lop. Mid January he went down to 2.33kg because of his dental issues. And when we found out he had spikes etc, he weighed 2.2kg.

Any clue?
 

JBun

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His weight loss is because he is not eating enough to maintain a healthy weight. I know your vet said that feeding critical care isn't necessary yet correct? But I have to disagree. Anytime a rabbit is eating insufficient amounts, syringe feeding may be necessary so the rabbit doesn't continue to loss weight. Veggies can help, but they don't really contain the necessary protein needed for weight gain. Have you tried offering a pellet mush or critical care in a dish to see if he will eat it on his own better than the hard dry pellets? Have you tried giving different types of hay to see if that makes any difference.. different varieties as well as hay that is softer and easier to eat? Have you tried fresh grass?

At 3 weeks post dental I would really be expecting your rabbit to have fully recovered and be eating normally again. If it were me I would want my vet looking into what may be causing this continued reluctance to eat hard foods. It may be he still has a painful ulcer in his mouth, or there may be something else going on that was missed.

Also, you may want to remove the fruit from the diet. It's not going to be helpful with weight gain and could actually lead to serious GI issues due to the high sugar content, as well as the fact that your bun isn't eating hay and so is not getting enough fiber to help alleviate some of the problems that excess sugars can cause, which would be poopy bum issues and overgrowth of harmful bacteria.. You may also want to remove the carrot as well, as this is also high in sugars.
 

amandaaaa_xxo

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You're correct in the rabbit doctor not allowing the syringe feeding yet, or critical care. She's just happy at the moment that HE IS eating because he had a really big ulcer so to speak, on his cheek and tongue. We have been giving him meloxicam to relieve the burning sensation so he CAN eat more. He is eating hard foods. The hay requires a different chewing motion and because they had to file down three teeth (yes three, poor little guy), that's probably why he can't chew as many as he wants. For now anyway. I don't offer bananas or carrots or apples in large amounts. I only give him very small amounts and sometimes not everyday.

I haven't tried any other hay but his usual oaten hay. I will try giving him fresh grass from the backyard to see if that will make a difference.

He eats a lot. Trust me. He eats all his carrots, bananas, apples, fresh leafy greens and other vegetables. It's just the hay that he isn't eating as much as he should be. It makes me think that watery food makes him lose weight? But he is eating bananas, carrots and apples. Those foods have sugar in them that SHOULD make a rabbit gain weight? She told me to feed him banana for weight gain because that's what she does with her rabbits if she wants them to gain weight.

Today when the nurse came back from the weigh in to talk to me about his diet, she was happy with what I told her. She told me to continue giving him the foods I give him because he's not underweight nor are his spine or rib cage showing. I asked her if I should feed him oats (because apparently that's safe and helps rabbits gain weight) and alfalfa hay and she told me not to. She told me oats are very difficult to digest and are not recommended for rabbits for weight gain and that he doesn't need alfalfa hay because like I said, he isn't underweight.

I read that holland dwarf lops should weigh no more than 1.83kg. Ideally, I want him to weigh between 2kg - 2.5kg.

I'll have to see what the options will be that the rabbit doctor will recommend, if we find out that he's still losing weight by next week.
 
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amandaaaa_xxo

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His weight loss is because he is not eating enough to maintain a healthy weight.
How much food is he meant to be eating? He's always eating unless he just lays there to rest/relax or is playing. I give him the same amount of foods as I have always been giving pre and post surgery. Should I increase the quantities of any foods?
 

Aki

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It's hard to tell. You don't say how much vegetables you give him - normally it's about 8% of the rabbit's ideal weight in vegetables (when you give pellets too) with 2/3 leafy greens and 1/3 of other stuffs. Fruits is only given as an occasional treat. The fact that your rabbit is only eating a bit of hay is the most concerning thing, in my opinion. I would buy a very good organic green hay that smells good (oxbow, for example) to try and encourage him to eat more. You can, as you said, cut grass and wash it before letting it to dry a bit. You can mix it with regular hay and give it to your rabbit - it should make him eat more of it. Regarding your rabbit's weight, it's also not easy to say - normally, a dwarf lop should be between 1 and 2 kilos. But that's only the standard, lots of dwarf lops are not as dwarf as they should be and are around 2,5 kilos or more. Mine is 1,7 kilos but he's a purebred from a breeder and had smallish parents (my vet was actually dubious when I told him I expected my rabbit to be under 2 kilos, saying that almost all the dwarf lops he saw were heavier than that). I say try to make him eat more hay, continue to monitor his weight and see what happens. If he continue to lose weight, it means something is wrong and then it's back to the vet for more tests...
 

amandaaaa_xxo

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I give him his vegetables and leafy greens twice a day (morning and night), and the quantity is 2 and 1/2 cups for both times. I only give fruits every few days. I know eating hay is an important and crucial part of a rabbits diet but again, because he had a really big ulcer (ulcers I should say) (this actually shocked the surgeon because she underestimated the size before surgery) he can't eat hay comfortably without running to drink water afterwards because it still hurts him. I can't speed up his process. He needs to recover at his own pace. I can see that he's actually eating more and more hay whenever I don't put vegetables or leafy greens in his cage. I don't want to NOT put the greens because he needs to eat that too.

I have the oxbow oaten hay, and I mix that with the greenacre oaten hay. I'm positive that there is nothing else contributing to his weight loss. For three weeks, he's only been eating the greens and fruits and pellets. The rabbit doctor saw my concern but reassured me not to worry, that in time he will eat his hay the way he used to. I think that period of him eating the greens was not enough for him to gain weight.

Dr. Gerry Skinner (not sure if you have heard or read about her) is the one who operated on my rabbit and is the one who keeps in contact with me about his health. She told me that some rabbits in her life time never ate a single hay, and those rabbits were fine. I'm not saying that I don't care if my rabbit doesn't eat hay because I want/need him to considering he must, but what I'm getting at is that, she's very experienced and if she saw that my rabbit didn't need critical care or syringe feeding despite the weight loss, then I shouldn't be worried for his weight loss. In other words, she basically knows what she's doing.

But then again, I love to have the opinion and suggestions of other rabbit owners, hence why I'm here :) so I do appreciate all your feedback.
 

amandaaaa_xxo

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It makes me sad because whenever I don't put the greens in his cage, it leaves him with no choice but to eat his hay. And I watch him as he does this. And as soon as he can hear me pulling out the celery out of its bag from the fridge and parsley, he starts going crazy and standing on his hind legs eager to get them to eat and when I place them in his cage, he eats them so fast.
 

amandaaaa_xxo

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It makes me sad because whenever I don't put the greens in his cage, it leaves him with no choice but to eat his hay. And I watch him as he does this. And as soon as he can hear me pulling out the celery out of its bag from the fridge and parsley, he starts going crazy and standing on his hind legs eager to get them to eat and when I place them in his cage, he eats them so fast.
 

ravenmoore36

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Iv just been in the same puzzling weight loss with my baby. A specialist found an infection via blood tests. Anti biotics and shes stable. Ask about blood tests. My baby was tested for everything under the sun and a few things that werent.
 

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