|Saturday, February 16, 2019
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Feeding your rabbit 

Not sure what to feed your rabbit? Here are some helpful tips.

The digestive system of the rabbit has more in common with a horse than with dogs or cats.

Rabbits need a high fibre diet, as without fibre their bowel cannot function properly. Good quality grass or grass hay is the best source but check that it is free from dust, mould and grass seeds which might get into their eyes.

Feed small quantities of fresh vegetables and remember cereal-based diets (the mueslitype) are high in sugar and low in minerals and therefore should not be given. Small quantities of high-fibre pellets are a better choice.

Introduce new foods gradually to prevent digestive upsets. A peculiarity of rabbits is caecotrophy, which means they eat special “faecal” pellets. These are paste-like, covered in jelly-like mucus and similar to faeces (but softer and bulkier). They are eaten daily when passed, often during grooming at night, and contain essential nutrients.

If your rabbit stops eating or passing faeces, see a vet as soon as possible. Many problems, as well as digestive upsets, will put your pet off food. Examples include dental disease and stress. Maintaining food intake is vital or further problems may follow.

Diarrhoea means a visit to the vet, immediately if it is severe and the rabbit is unwell. Mild diarrhoea often indicates insufficient fibre in the diet, too many sugary treats or a change in diet. Look around to see what your pet is eating.

Infections do occur in rabbits, especially when young but they are relatively uncommon. Pale-coloured, strong-smelling faeces caked at the back end, along with the normal faeces in the run, may be uneaten caecotrophs, and often indicate problems such as dental disease or arthritis, reducing mobility. Again, see the vet, and guard against fly strike.