Weight loss in rabbits

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virtualtrauma

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Hi everyone,in February Penny weighed 2.45kg but when she went to the vets last week she weighed 2.18kg. The vet didn't seem overly concerned about her weight loss but this seems quite high to me! We are taking her back to see a different vet the week after next (the next available appointment) Does anyone have any suggestions of what could be causing this? She is spayed, the vet said her teeth were fine and her appetite hasn't changed. Should I be asking for a blood test? She's almost 2 years old.
 

JBun

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How does her body condition seem? Does her back and hindquarters look nice and rounded, and when you roll your fingers over the middle of her back along her spine from side to side, does it feel rounded where you just feel the spine as bumps with good muscling on each side, or does the spine feel sharper and protrude more?


Has anything changed in your rabbits diet since Feb? Anything like type or amount of pellets that you're feeding, or a different hay(type of coarseness of the cut, not as soft a cut)? I have a rabbit that started losing weight because the hay I was feeding changed to a coarser cut. Do you free feed your hay(unlimited), and have you verified she is still eating the same amount each day without issue? Sometimes it can be hard to tell exactly how much hay a rabbit is actually eating each day.

No signs of dental problems at home(drooling, dropping food from the mouth, odd chewing behaviors, selective eating)? Sometimes dental issues can be missed in a simple visual check by the vet, and a more detailed exam under sedation is required. Any increase in thirst and/or urination? Any poop changes or signs of worms in the poop, increased respiratory effort, skin problems, pot belly appearance? Any other odd changes of behavior or odd health conditions?



 

virtualtrauma

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Thank you for taking the time to reply. Her spine is sharper than I would like but visually she looks okay. I started reducing the amount of pellets in her diet since Feb on the vets advice to increase the amount of hay she ate as she was having soft stools. The majority of her weight loss seems to be from May to July though but this seems to be the same time as we reduced the amount of dried leaves and forage we were giving. I cant be sure she is eating the same amount of hay because she lives with two other rabbits but she has always been a bit more fussy with it than they are and prefers her morning fresh herbs. I haven't noticed any signs of dental issues, she is happy to eat anything and doesn't drool or drop food. I haven't noticed any change to her stools other than she nolonger has any soft stools, it's hard to tell with urination because she lives with two others. I did think I spotted a pinworm in her mates stool a couple of months ago and I treated them all with a course of Pancur and haven't noticed anything since. I haven't noticed anything else odd, I'm really hoping now that it is the reduction in forage she was getting in the evenings. I have increased her nuggets again this week but we only realised about the timing of the forage reduction today so we will start giving more again. I have also been giving 1st and 2nd cut timothy hay recently so she has the choice of which hay she would prefer. I will still take her to the vets in a couple of weeks and keep weighing her and keeping an eye.
 

JBun

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With the reduction of pellets and forage, and if she happens to be eating more of the first cut hay, this could be an explanation for the weight loss. Especially since you don't seem to be seeing other health indicators as a possible cause.

First cut timothy is usually stalkier and lower in protein than second cut. Second cut is usually more leafy and higher in protein. So when more of a stalky first cut hay is being eaten by a rabbit, more protein in the diet is needed to maintain balance. Increased pellets and forage should help. Maybe consider removing the first cut hay too for now. Though if the mushy cecals come back and you have to reduce pellets again, I would stick with just offering the second cut timothy hay.

If the first cut hay you have is a stalkier hay and you want to continue to offer it, it either needs to be given in limited amounts so it is balanced with other higher protein foods, or if fed unlimited, much more pellets have to be fed to balance out the low protein in the hay.
 

virtualtrauma

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With the reduction of pellets and forage, and if she happens to be eating more of the first cut hay, this could be an explanation for the weight loss. Especially since you don't seem to be seeing other health indicators as a possible cause.

First cut timothy is usually stalkier and lower in protein than second cut. Second cut is usually more leafy and higher in protein. So when more of a stalky first cut hay is being eaten by a rabbit, more protein in the diet is needed to maintain balance. Increased pellets and forage should help. Maybe consider removing the first cut hay too for now. Though if the mushy cecals come back and you have to reduce pellets again, I would stick with just offering the second cut timothy hay.

If the first cut hay you have is a stalkier hay and you want to continue to offer it, it either needs to be given in limited amounts so it is balanced with other higher protein foods, or if fed unlimited, much more pellets have to be fed to balance out the low protein in the hay.
Thank you very much, we are keeping s good eye on her and increasing her food. We've also had a detailed look at the trends tonight and it looks like her weight falls each time we've had a little heatwave and she picks up. It's very warm at the moment so hopefully it cools for her! Thank you for your advice its much appreciated
 

JBun

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True. Heat can certainly play into a reduction in eating. Providing cool tiles, frozen water bottles, and other methods of cooling, can help alleviate some of this and help with appetite.

Tips on preventing heat stress.

 

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