Is my bunny wasting away or just shedding like crazy?

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overhear

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Wise bunny parents,

Okay, here comes another post from another worried bunny owner... 🙄

My bunny's been shedding like crazy and now that she's lost a lot of fur she feels very bony and looks strangely elderly. (I don't know her actual age because she's a rescue but my vet thinks she's young.)

I'm attaching pictures here. Is this a normal shedding thing?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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DeSERG

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On photos your rabbit looks like my Gingerbread in shedding period. I don't think that it's something wrong. No bold spot or other strange things.
Btw, what does your bunny eat? We got real fur problems few years ago. My rabbit even had bold spots, his fur didn't look healthy - so that was 100% seen that something is wrong. We solved the problem by changing his food from cheap (like Little one or vitapol) to Versele laga (Complete series). And for a few weeks things turned okay.
 

dogwoodblossoms

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On photos your rabbit looks like my Gingerbread in shedding period. I don't think that it's something wrong. No bold spot or other strange things.
Btw, what does your bunny eat? We got real fur problems few years ago. My rabbit even had bold spots, his fur didn't look healthy - so that was 100% seen that something is wrong. We solved the problem by changing his food from cheap (like Little one or vitapol) to Versele laga (Complete series). And for a few weeks things turned okay.
I agree, it could be her diet.
It’s also switching seasons right now so she’s going to be shedding A LOT. I had one rabbit during the summer molt for a little longer then a month. Some rabbits just have longer molting cycles.
 

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In addition to unlimited hay, she gets about 4 cups of greens a day-- (combinations of carrot tops, cilantro, and baby lettuce), and versele laga complete. I'd been giving her a 1/4 cup of pellets each morning and evening but reduced that slightly a couple of weeks ago after reading that pellets should only be a supplement.
 

dogwoodblossoms

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In addition to unlimited hay, she gets about 4 cups of greens a day-- (combinations of carrot tops, cilantro, and baby lettuce), and versele laga complete. I'd been giving her a 1/4 cup of pellets each morning and evening but reduced that slightly a couple of weeks ago after reading that pellets should only be a supplement.
If I’m remembering correctly versele laga is a good pellet feed. 1/4 cup of pellets once a day would be fine (but not twice, it’s just to much enrichment for her size), I would guess she’s molting so much not just because of the season but also because you changed her diet. The fresh foods your giving her are fine, just make sure to watch how her stomach reacts to the lettuce, it can make some rabbits not feel great if their given to much.
Have you changed the kind of hay she gets?
Maybe, in attempt to help her molting to stop bring down her intake of veggies just for now (1 1/2- 2 cups) until her molt is better.
Brushing her daily will help as well, you don’t want her to get a hair ball.
Another thing you could give her is Papaya Support by Oxbow if you see hair in her poop.
 

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I would guess she’s molting so much not just because of the season but also because you changed her diet
Her hay has been consistent : Oxbow Timothy and meadowgrass mix. She's still getting too much dry food but I'm trying to reduce it slowly.

You are right about the greens though. Her stomach does seem to be very gurgly lately and I think I should reduce those.

I've gotten her to eat a lot more hay by putting handfuls of it into her greens bowl. She seems to think that anything in there is a treat lol.
 

JBun

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Rabbits can have hard molts and look pretty scruffy. But underlying body condition is completely separate. If your rabbit is boney and underweight, then that's a separate health issue that needs to be addressed. So you feel along the sides of the spine for roundedness, and if the hip bones, spine, and ribs feel sharp or if they feel cushioned and rounded. If your rabbit is boney, then it could be due to the diet change or it could be a health problem. Do you feel that your rabbit is boney and underweight, or just looks it because of the scruffy molt? The photo from the top, to me it looks like she could possibly be underweight, but that could just be the molt and a bad view.

Monitoring your rabbits weight
 

dogwoodblossoms

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Her hay has been consistent : Oxbow Timothy and meadowgrass mix. She's still getting too much dry food but I'm trying to reduce it slowly.

You are right about the greens though. Her stomach does seem to be very gurgly lately and I think I should reduce those.

I've gotten her to eat a lot more hay by putting handfuls of it into her greens bowl. She seems to think that anything in there is a treat lol.
Some rabbits just need to get used to eating hay again which is odd since it’s their main source of food.
I’ve found every rabbit has a different preference on the amount of pellets they get. I have rabbits who could live off just pellets and others that don’t love pellets as much.
Rabbits can have hard molts and look pretty scruffy. But underlying body condition is completely separate. If your rabbit is boney and underweight, then that's a separate health issue that needs to be addressed. So you feel along the sides of the spine for roundedness, and if the hip bones, spine, and ribs feel sharp or if they feel cushioned and rounded. If your rabbit is boney, then it could be due to the diet change or it could be a health problem. Do you feel that your rabbit is boney and underweight, or just looks it because of the scruffy molt? The photo from the top, to me it looks like she could possibly be underweight, but that could just be the molt and a bad view.

Monitoring your rabbits weight
I was wondering if she could be looking like that because, her stomach has been gurgling like it’s upset, so she’s just not feeling good, which is leading to her to get skinner? Or the change of diet also could make her just appear to look different since her pellet limit has gone down from before so she’s just not as chubby? Although it looks like she might just appear boney because she’s molting..?
 

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Rabbits can have hard molts and look pretty scruffy. But underlying body condition is completely separate. If your rabbit is boney and underweight, then that's a separate health issue that needs to be addressed. So you feel along the sides of the spine for roundedness, and if the hip bones, spine, and ribs feel sharp or if they feel cushioned and rounded. If your rabbit is boney, then it could be due to the diet change or it could be a health problem. Do you feel that your rabbit is boney and underweight, or just looks it because of the scruffy molt? The photo from the top, to me it looks like she could possibly be underweight, but that could just be the molt and a bad view.

Monitoring your rabbits weight
This is exactly my concern. I actually thought she looked a little overweight a couple of weeks ago. I can now feel all her bones and spine just petting her. Do they feel sharp versus rounded? I can't say for sure without much experience examining other rabbits.

That said, she eats tons of hay and the only change in her diet in the last two weeks has been reducing her pellets from a half cup a day to a half cup minus two tablespoons. That's not a huge change in diet.

I may have to bring her to the vet to know for sure if she has some other health issue.
 

JBun

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About how much does she weigh now and do you have a previous weight on her before the diet change? How much hay does she eat in a day(pile the size of her body, half the size, etc), and what is the cut and quality of the hay(green, sun bleached and is it soft leafy, mix of mostly leaf and some stem, or mostly hard stems)? How much of the pellets is she getting now per day? Has she shown any signs of digestive discomfort like stops eating/pooping, belly pressing, eye squinting, sitting hunched and not wanting to move? Or is it just the gurgling?

You want things to have a nice rounded feel to them. Like along the back, moving your hand over the spine from side to side, there should be good muscle padding on each side of the spine. If it feels concave at all, then there's probably some weight loss going on.
 

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About how much does she weigh now and do you have a previous weight on her before the diet change? How much hay does she eat in a day(pile the size of her body, half the size, etc), and what is the cut and quality of the hay(green, sun bleached and is it soft leafy, mix of mostly leaf and some stem, or mostly hard stems)? How much of the pellets is she getting now per day? Has she shown any signs of digestive discomfort like stops eating/pooping, belly pressing, eye squinting, sitting hunched and not wanting to move? Or is it just the gurgling?

You want things to have a nice rounded feel to them. Like along the back, moving your hand over the spine from side to side, there should be good muscle padding on each side of the spine. If it feels concave at all, then there's probably some weight loss going on.
Unfortunately I've not figured out how to weigh her (tried standing with her on the scale but she hates being picked up and won't sit still on it herself). I'll try again today and will also reach out to my vet to see what her baseline weight was.

She gets 6 tablespoons of pellets per day now, down from 8 T. For hay, she gets Oxbow Western Timothy & Orchard Hay Small Animal Food which I understand is 2nd cut -- it's green and a mix of stems and softer grass. It has a nice, fresh smell. She eats at least her whole body size in hay daily.

Right now she doesn't seem to be in any gastral distress. She's a rescue who was found outside so I don't know her history, but in the year we've had her she's had 2 bouts of gas or stasis where she hunched down and appeared to be in a lot of pain. I now keep simethicone and critical care on hand and syringe feed her when that happens.
 

JBun

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Since her diet seems pretty balanced with enough protein in it, if she were to be underweight it's unlikely diet is related to it. I think if she was underweight though, running your hands over her and feeling her, I think it would be pretty apparent to you.
 

overhear

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Thanks for all your thoughts. Since she seems to be feeling fine and is behaving normally I'm going to try not to panic and just keep an eye on her. More than anything I think I was just startled by her appearance. I'll keep you posted.
 

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