Rabbits have become increasingly popular for most pet lovers since they are low-maintenance pets and have a cute furry appearance. Moreover, their diet only consists of hays and pellets. Although occasionally, you can fodder your rabbit fruits and vegetables for extra nutrition in their body.
With this in mind, you might wonder how much food your rabbit needs. Since obesity in rabbits also exists.
Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF) stated that obesity among rabbits is a serious health risk concern because of complications that can affect their body function.
And as a rabbit owner, you need to know the causes, prevention, and treatment so that you can give your bunny the healthy lifestyle they deserve.
You might find your rabbit cute and fluffy when they get extra fat. However, you should not be fooled by this appearance. Some Veterinary Groups reported that obesity is rabbits’ second most common health risk next to oral problems.
Being obese can lead your rabbits to health problems concerning your pet’s overall wellness. Such as overweight rabbits are prone to heart problems and will experience several complications in their digestion and urinary tract function.
Moreover, since saturated and unwanted fats cause obesity, there is an increase in heart attacks for your pet. But the biggest problem that can affect your rabbit daily is their ability to have an active lifestyle.
The normal weight of rabbits depends on their breed and age. But most rabbits have an average weight of two to four kilograms. It’s best to keep an eye on and regularly check your rabbit’s weight to track whether they are getting fat. This practice will also help you, and your rabbit avoids further problems in their healthy body.
Signs of Obesity in Rabbits
RWAF recommended a method that you can practice to see if your rabbit is obese or not. They called it Body Condition Score. This will help you monitor and maintain the right and healthy weight for your body.
The body condition score is equivalent to the rabbit’s physical attributes. It starts with 1 being malnourished and 5 being obese.
Look at this table from Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund to guide you better.
|Body Score||Body Condition||Body Condition Description|
|1||Rabbit is Emaciated/Malnourished||The pelvis and ribs are very easily palpated and sharp. Ribs feel like a pocket full of rulers! Concave rump area.|
|2||Rabbit is Lean/ Underweight||The pelvis and ribs are easily palpated and feel sharp. The rump area is flat.|
|3||Rabbit’s Normal Weight||Pelvis and ribs are easily palpated but have rounded edges. Ribs feel like a pocket full of pens! The rump area is flat.|
|4||Rabbit is Overweight/ Fat||Firm palpation is required to feel the ribs. The rump is round to the touch.|
|5||Rabbit is Obese||It is Hard to palpate the ribs, or ribs cannot be felt. The rump area is convex.|
To do this practice, you can compare the feeling of your rabbit’s ribs to when you touch the knuckles of your closed fist. The more edges and roughness you feel, the more your pet might be malnourished and needs an improvement in their diet or medication. However, when you cannot feel any presence of the rib, then your bunny might be obese.
But for your peace of mind and to ensure your rabbit’s body weight, do not hesitate to set a schedule with your trusted vet. They will also provide tips for you and treatment in case your rabbit is obese.
Causes of Rabbit Obesity
Overeating is normally the cause of obesity in your bunnies. For most of their life, they will love fodder in the food you serve them, and sometimes they just can’t control themselves from eating the foods in their bowl.
However, the overeating habit of your rabbit does not necessarily affect them, especially if they are active. Since rabbits are more likely to become fat if they don’t have enough exercise and poor sources of nutrients.
That is why you must have a plan for their diet meal. RWAF recommended that your rabbit meal consists of 85% grass hays, 10% veggies, and fruits; the rest are food pellets.
Here are some of the safe food that you can safely fodder your rabbit:
But note that not every rabbit is suitable for this kind of diet. Also, you need to be careful about offering your rabbit so many sweets and treats because it can be addicting for them.
You can test your rabbits on different diets to find what makes them happy and healthy. Or the easiest thing is to ask for a doctor’s recommendation to avoid overeating.
Carbohydrates and too much sugar can cause your rabbit to get fat. Unlike other animals, your rabbit’s digestion is different because most of their source of nutrients should come from foods with a lot of fiber, like timothy hay and alfalfa grass.
In addition, you might also notice that your rabbit is eating poop, known as cecotropes stool. Rabbits eat this poop at night or in their cages or litter box.
The stool contributes additional nutrients to a rabbit’s daily diet because it contains nutrients your pet’s body produces.
But, when your rabbit starts to become fat and has imbalanced nutrition, its stool will also be affected. Hence, rabbits cannot consume the same nutrients they need from eating cecotropes.
Here are some of the foods that you should avoid giving to your pet because of poor nutrients contributions to their body:
If you want to understand more about the food that your rabbit can and cannot eat, you can read this article: The Definitive Guide To What Foods Rabbits Can & Cannot Eat.
Prevention and Treatment
Active Lifestyle and Exercise
A common misconception for some people is that rabbits stay most of their life inside the cage and just eat and sleep. However, this is not true because rabbits also love having an active lifestyle, such as playing and exercising.
In addition, having an active activity with your rabbit also opens up the possibility of building a connection with them. This is important because they will trust and give back their love to you.
If you think your rabbit is healthy, you can consider scheduling a weekly activity for them, like hiding their favorite treat and letting them find it. This will be rewarding for your rabbit.
Aside from enjoying eating treats, they will also be encouraged to use their smell instinct and walk outside their cage. Or you can just let them roam your backyard or open area for at least one to two hours daily.
But, before planning a play activity with them or forcing them to exercise, you should consider the following:
Your rabbit’s health should be fit in having an active lifestyle. Make sure they don’t have any underlying disease because too much energy can cause further problems.
Provide an open space for your rabbit to play. It is also recommended that your rabbit plays in a grassy area because they will enjoy the breeze of the air and the texture of the grass, which is their natural habitat.
There is a certain breed that prefers not to have active activity. However, some adult rabbits will love to get out of their cage at least once every week. And if you think your rabbit is exerting energy enough, don’t force them to exercise because this might get them in a stressful situation.
One of the simplest ways to prevent your rabbit from getting fat is to plan a balanced diet. You can work with your doctor to list foods ideal for the rabbit’s everyday meal.
Consider reducing calorie intake for your rabbit and foods with sugar and saturated fats because these are the leading compounds that cause obesity in rabbits. Instead, fodder their food high in fiber and minerals like hays.
Feed your pet with veggies and slices of fruit for additional nutrition because too much can disrupt their digestive system.
In case of necessary changes in their diet, have a proper transition for your rabbit to adjust. It can be done one at a time within a few weeks. Feel free to introduce new food and remove it if it’s causing diarrhea.
During this time, ensure you consistently check your pet for any symptoms of reverse effects like loss of appetite, changed behavior, or diarrhea.
- Obesity in rabbits also exists, and it can pose a health risk for your rabbits, such as digestion, urinary tract, and a possible heart attack because of the unwanted fats in their body.
- You can follow the Body Condition Score to check your rabbit’s weight. If the ribs are more present, your rabbit is likely malnourished. However, if you can’t feel the ribs, it’s one of the signs that the rabbits are overweight.
- Overeating and Imbalanced Nutrition is the common cause of your rabbit getting fat.
- To prevent your rabbit from getting obese, make sure that they have an active lifestyle and regular exercise. Consider the health, environment, and lifestyle of your rabbit when exercising.
- A balanced diet also helps them acquire the right nutrition and avoid eating foods with sugar and carbohydrates.
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