Diet plays a vital role in the health and well being of any animal, and the rabbit is no exception. Considering a rabbit’s unique and delicate digestive system, rabbit health hinges on proper diet. Common rabbit health problems are directly related to an improper diet like obesity, gastrointestinal diseases and dental disease.
All pet rabbits need a high level of indigestible fiber and plenty of fresh water daily to maintain the rabbit’s health. The high fiber food and water keeps the rabbit’s gastrointestinal system functioning in a normal, healthy manner. For overall good rabbit health, the levels of carbohydrates and proteins must be controlled to prevent obesity and kidney disease in the rabbit.
A proper diet for optimum rabbit health should include unlimited grass hay, which provides the diet roughage needed to reduce the danger of hairballs and other intestinal blockages. A proper diet must also include at least one cup of fresh leafy greens for every two pounds of rabbit body weight. The daily leafy greens should contain as many varieties of greens as possible. Offer the rabbit other vegetables and fruits as well, but in limited amounts. A rabbit needs an ongoing fresh supply of water to stay healthy.
To maintain rabbit health, a proper diet does not need to include commercial food pellets. While specially formulated high fiber, low protein rabbit food pellets are an acceptable part of a proper diet when given in small amounts, rabbit pellets should not be used as the only food a rabbit receives. As a rabbit ages, the feeding of rabbit food pellets should stop altogether. Rabbit food pellets were designed to feed commercial rabbits for quick growth, not for promoting rabbit health in pet rabbits.
When you feed a rabbit is almost as important for rabbit health as what you feed. The hay and fresh water should be available to the rabbit all the time, with the fresh greens, vegetables, fruits or pellets being fed half in the morning and the other half in the evening.
A proper diet for a rabbit does not need to include added supplements. A healthy rabbit actually produces a good portion of it’s own vitamins, amino acids and other nutrients through the production and re-eating of special feces called cecotropes. This process that rabbits have of re-eating their food is similar to cud chewing in cattle.
Make changes in your rabbit’s diet slowly, quick changes to the rabbit’s diet can cause diarrhea or an overgrowth of that bad bacteria in the gut.
A proper diet promoting good rabbit health can help your pet rabbit live a full and happy lifespan of up to 13 years.