Will my underweight rabbit have a bad diet?

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Apollo’s Slave

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Edit: I have no idea if what I’m saying makes sense 😅

And now, the only issue I have is with Athenas diet.
She gets unlimited Timothy hay, 1 tablespoon of oats, 2 1/2 cups of veggies and 1/2 a cup of pellets a day. The rescue fed this diet to her and said that she’ll need to be on it for the rest of her life. But what worries me is the amount of pellets that she’ll be taking in (over a thousand cups in 8 years!), and I know pellets aren’t very good for their gut either.

I’m just wondering what the best thing I can do for her is. I would like to eventually get her to 1/4 cup of pellets and feed other foods daily to supplement the rest of her pellets. Things like barley rings, pea flakes, oats, or even alfalfa hay. But I’m finding it so hard to research what is safe and good for weight gain, and that can be fed daily.
 
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Apollo’s Slave

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Sorry for how long this is! I will also be sorting out a diet plan with our vet, but just wanted to get everyone’s opinion as well! Thank you :)
 

JBun

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Is she at a healthy weight now or is she underweight at all? What is the hay that you feed like? Is it a nice green color, and what is the texture(soft and leafy, mix of leaf and crunchy stem, mostly crunchy stems)?
 

Apollo’s Slave

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She is still underweight. I don’t know how much as I’m not sure how much she should weigh. She’s an English spot and lop cross. Our hay is quite good quality; it’s very green and a mix of softer and crunchy bits.
 

JBun

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There are only a few foods to help increase weight in rabbits commercially available. So there is getting a leafier early growth grass hay that is higher in protein, alfalfa hay higher in protein, oats for the added carbs, black oil sunflower seeds, or pellets. And pea flakes sound like they would too, but it's not something we have here or that I'm familiar with, so you would need to do your own research on that.

There are possible problems that can be encountered with each thing. Alfalfa hay may cause kidney and/or bladder issues in some rabbits because of the higher calcium levels. Oats could lead to an imbalance of the digestive flora and mushy poop because of the added carbs. Pellets, same thing, more carbs from the added sugars in them can sometimes lead to mushy poop issues. Early growth leafy grass hay can be very rich and may cause mushy poop. Black oil sunflower seeds can sometimes contain seeds that have rotted inside the shell and could cause digestive upset from that.

I would try the early growth grass hay first. You have Readigrass there in the UK. The 15kg horse Readigrass is 15% protein 0.5% calcium, timothy hay is about 8% protein and 0.4% calcium, alfalfa 16% protein 1.2% calcium. Of course this varies a little with each crop and growth stage when the hay is cut. Readigrass has comparable protein to alfalfa but closer to timothy for the calcium content. So Readigrass may be a really good option for you to try. If you do, with it being a richer hay, I would suggest gradually adding it to the diet like you do with veggies and pellets. There are different types of readigrass, it's the larger pack for horses that has the 15% protein, so that's the one I would get.

If you find readigrass doesn't work well, black oil sunflower seeds are what I would try next, but checking each seed fed to make sure they aren't rotted inside the shell. And usually only a few are fed each day, gradually introduced into the diet.
 
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Apollo’s Slave

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Thank you! I’ve just ordered Redigrass! Is this something that can be fed every day (for the rest of her life) without too many health issues?
 

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If it doesn't cause mushy poop, excess uneaten cecals, excessively small fecal poop due to slowing the gut down, upset stomach, GI stasis, or bladder sludge, then I can't see any reason why it couldn't. It's just a richer growth of grass hay with higher protein for better weight maintenance. So for a rabbit that needs a higher protein low calcium hay, it seems pretty ideal to me. Kind of wish we had it available here in the US too.
 

ladysown

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there's nothing wrong with feeding your rabbit a good pellet in their diet. Pellets are nutritionally balanced.

But options if you don't want to feed pellets: BOSS, oats, various grains (not corn), alfalfa hay, don't forget you need to provide trace nutrients and feed a wide variety of plants.
 
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Apollo’s Slave

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If it doesn't cause mushy poop, excess uneaten cecals, excessively small fecal poop due to slowing the gut down, upset stomach, GI stasis, or bladder sludge, then I can't see any reason why it couldn't. It's just a richer growth of grass hay with higher protein for better weight maintenance. So for a rabbit that needs a higher protein low calcium hay, it seems pretty ideal to me. Kind of wish we had it available here in the US too.
Great! Thank you so much!


there's nothing wrong with feeding your rabbit a good pellet in their diet. Pellets are nutritionally balanced.

But options if you don't want to feed pellets: BOSS, oats, various grains (not corn), alfalfa hay, don't forget you need to provide trace nutrients and feed a wide variety of plants.
Thank you! I do want to keep some pellets but just not as many as she gets now. I’m hoping to get her to 1/4 cup once she reaches a healthy weight! But I’ll keep those alternatives in mind too! Thank you!
 

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I don't know that I would say pellets are bad for them - depending on the brand and ratios. Have you considered Sherwood? I understand they can be purchased in the UK by going through US Amazon.

Here's more about them just fyi:
 

Diane R

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Thank you! I’ve just ordered Redigrass! Is this something that can be fed every day (for the rest of her life) without too many health issues?
Introduce in small quantities and see how she goes. Some bunnies have been known to get gassy on it. Personally I would only use it as a last resort, if a bunny won't eat normal grass hay. Has the rescue explained to you why Athena can't be on a normal diet? Does she have some medical condition that can't be addressed in any other way?
 

Apollo’s Slave

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I don't know that I would say pellets are bad for them - depending on the brand and ratios. Have you considered Sherwood? I understand they can be purchased in the UK by going through US Amazon.

Here's more about them just fyi:
Thank you! I’m feeding Science Selective Grain Free Rabbit Food to then right now but I’ll have a look into Sherwood.


Introduce in small quantities and see how she goes. Some bunnies have been known to get gassy on it. Personally I would only use it as a last resort, if a bunny won't eat normal grass hay. Has the rescue explained to you why Athena can't be on a normal diet? Does she have some medical condition that can't be addressed in any other way?
Ah okay, thank you! She eats a lot of Timothy hay so I might just try it out or feed a little a day. The rescue didn’t explain exactly why she can’t be on a regular diet, they just said that she struggles to keep weight on and I just assumed that it was because she had an abscess (which they treated). But I’m not sure if that’s normal for a rabbit who has had that.
 

Diane R

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Thank you! I’m feeding Science Selective Grain Free Rabbit Food to then right now but I’ll have a look into Sherwood.



Ah okay, thank you! She eats a lot of Timothy hay so I might just try it out or feed a little a day. The rescue didn’t explain exactly why she can’t be on a regular diet, they just said that she struggles to keep weight on and I just assumed that it was because she had an abscess (which they treated). But I’m not sure if that’s normal for a rabbit who has had that.
If the abscess has been dealt with (and I know the rescue uses an excellent rabbit vet so I have no doubt that it was done well) then I can't see why it should cause her to lose weight. Do you weigh her every couple of weeks or so? If she is losing weight I recommend you take her to the Beaumont in Camden and have her checked out.
 

Apollo’s Slave

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She went to the vet for a check up a few weeks ago, and they said she was healthy (but didn’t give much information 😕) and as I wasn’t able to go in with her, I’m not sure how thorough it was. I will weigh her later tonight though and keep record. As for taking her to another vet, I’ll see if i can get her an appointment for her. Is there anything that they should look for? As she’s healthy aside from not keeping weight on?
 

Diane R

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I just wonder whether you are worrying unnecessarily. Weighing every couple of weeks or so is a good idea in any case. I mentioned the Beaumont because they are expert rabbit vets, they would know what to look for.
 

Apollo’s Slave

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I just wonder whether you are worrying unnecessarily. Weighing every couple of weeks or so is a good idea in any case. I mentioned the Beaumont because they are expert rabbit vets, they would know what to look for.
It is definitely possible that I’m worrying over nothing. It wouldn’t be the first time. Thank you though.
 

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