Suggestions for weight gain on senior bun

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FosterFluffle

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Eight year old Netherland Dwarf foster. Vet wants him to gain a bit of weight but he won't eat pellets. Normally I'd be thrilled that he would rather eat hay, but he's not gaining. I've tried plain timothy pellets, plain alfalfa pellets, Oxbow, Mazuri and Science Selective. Any suggestions?
 

FosterFluffle

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Has he always just eaten hay or is this refusing of pellets a new thing for him? Does he eat anything else? Greens, etc?

He has only ever eaten timothy hay and pellets. Owner surrender and came in this condition. Greens are very new to him, he's never had them before and they are being introduced very slowly. He eats a few pellets and then goes to town on his hay.
 

JBun

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If you can feed some of a softer cut of grass hay, that can increase protein levels. Though this will usually be a third cut, which can be a bit rich for some rabbits. So you may only be able to feed a small amount.

If this has been a change of pellet brand/type for him, that may be why he's not eating these new ones very well yet. He may just need some time to get used to the change and will gradually start eating more.

If you find you need to try a different pellet type, Sherwood pellets may be an option to try, or oxbow senior pellets.

There are some supplements that can be tried as well. If regular rolled oats don't cause any mushy cecotrope issues, a little bit of those can be fed. I fed a small amount of black oil sunflower seeds to my elderly rabbits. A little sweet potato or plain canned pumpkin can add calories, but limited as they're high in carbs.

Remember with all diet changes, it's best to introduce one thing at a time and only gradually increase if there are no signs of digestive upset. Grass hay is the exception to this as it's usually well tolerated when suddenly introduced. With the exception of richer cuts of hay like very leafy third cut hay, which may need a more gradual introduction and may need to be limited in amounts fed.

And a caution about some higher protein hays like alfalfa and possibly third cut grass hay. These can also be higher in calcium, which can cause bladder and/or kidney issues for some rabbits, and so may not be an option.

Weight gain diet for underweight rabbits
 

FosterFluffle

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If you can feed some of a softer cut of grass hay, that can increase protein levels. Though this will usually be a third cut, which can be a bit rich for some rabbits. So you may only be able to feed a small amount.

If this has been a change of pellet brand/type for him, that may be why he's not eating these new ones very well yet. He may just need some time to get used to the change and will gradually start eating more.

If you find you need to try a different pellet type, Sherwood pellets may be an option to try, or oxbow senior pellets.

There are some supplements that can be tried as well. If regular rolled oats don't cause any mushy cecotrope issues, a little bit of those can be fed. I fed a small amount of black oil sunflower seeds to my elderly rabbits. A little sweet potato or plain canned pumpkin can add calories, but limited as they're high in carbs.

Remember with all diet changes, it's best to introduce one thing at a time and only gradually increase if there are no signs of digestive upset. Grass hay is the exception to this as it's usually well tolerated when suddenly introduced, with the exception of richer cuts of hay like very leafy third cut hay.

And a caution about some higher protein hays like alfalfa and possibly third cut grass hay. These can also be higher in calcium, which can cause bladder and/or kidney issues for some rabbits, and so may not be an option.

Weight gain diet for underweight rabbits
Thank you for the information!

He was on Oxbow Garden Select, now on the basic Oxbow. All of my other rabbits are on Mazuri Rabbit Timothy (up to 2 table spoons per day, depending on needs). This particular rabbit is still on Oxbow timothy hay, I am slowly transitioning to orchard, as the rest are on it. He shows the same 'blah' enthusiasm for everything.
 
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Which Science Selective have you tried? Our bunnies went so crazy over the Grain Free variety that we refer to it as “bunny crack,” lol. I now feed them a mix of the Science SelectiveGrain Free and House Rabbit, with a bit of Sherwood Adult to supplement (I have to limit the Sherwood because they get diarrhea on too much of it, maybe from the oils in it).

My older bunny (11-1/2) has had trouble with being overweight, while my younger bunny, found as a stray, became underweight when I weaned him off alfalfa hay. He is also very active, which compounds the problem. The best thing I’ve found is Small Pet Select oat hay, which has a lot of seed heads. He gets 1-2 large oat heads as a treat at night. He also gets unlimited pellets throughout the day, as I’ve found that he will eat a few on and off all day, whereas my older bunny scarfs them all up at once. They are separated, so they can each get the amount they need.

Is your bunny drinking enough, and from a right-size crock? Usually when my bunnies don’t eat pellets, it’s because they aren’t drinking enough and the pellets just make an uncomfortable mass in their stomach. With my underweight bunny, I had to try different sizes of bowls (and different mixes of filtered and tap water) to get him to drink enough, and then he ate more pellets. I’ve even found that just one 40 ml dose of subcutaneous fluids with a bit of belly massage can get a bunny to start eating pellets again, because the stomach contents were just too dehydrated for him to want to eat pellets.

Finally, especially given your statement of his reaction being “blah” to everything, it sounds like he might have a bit of depression from losing his owner and being in new circumstances. Lots of personal attention, fun things to explore, and rolled up fleece and a stuffy to snuggle with might just perk him up.
 

lovedbunny

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Raw Pumpkin in a can, (not pie filling though) small amounts of alfalfa but be careful about too much calcium. Hay toppers can encourage more eating too.
Black oil sunflower seeds, oat groats.

Be careful with the rolled oats thing, I’m always considered it can be hard for them to digest. Don’t want to cause a secondary problem.

Try different hats and different pellets,

If it’s really bad then critical care syringe feeding.
 

Preitler

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Rolled oats are pretty much the easiest high calorie stuff to digest for them, I always use it with sickly and older rabbits, and to administer medicine. I also offer it to kits when they start on solid food. They love it and never had any problems, at an amount of about two teaspoons per day.
If it's really about weight gain I put a litt,e sunflower seed oil on the pats or pellets.

Pumpkin is healthy stuff too, rather low on calories and definitly an aquired taste, some of mine took weeks to get used to it and it only gets eaten in winter when there are no greens (I feed mostly fresh forage whenever available, hay in winter)
 

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