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A healthy diet for rabbits

Diet logo © RSPCA publications and brand 2010


Ensure your rabbit has a healthy diet

 

Rabbits need:

  • Fresh clean drinking water continuously, checked twice daily. Ensure water doesn’t freeze in winter. Without water rabbits become seriously ill.
     
  • Good quality hay and/or grass, always available, should constitute the majority of rabbits' diets. 
    - Rabbits graze, naturally eating grass/other plants for long periods, mainly at dawn and dusk. 
    - Rabbits’ digestive systems need grass and/or hay to function properly.
    - Read meal planner and feeding tips.
     
  • Hay and/or grass as they’re much more important than commercial rabbit pellets ('nuggets'). 
    - If giving pellets, follow manufacturer’s instructions. 
    - Don’t top the bowl up as rabbits might stop eating enough hay and/or grass. 
    - Growing/pregnant/nursing/underweight rabbits may need larger portions.
     
  • Healthy diets. Avoid muesli-style foods as they are associated with health problems. See muesli is unhealthy for rabbits for advice on transferring rabbits to healthier diets. Contact your vet for dietary advice. 
    - Rabbits' teeth grow continuously, needing wearing down and keeping at the correct length/shape by eating grass/hay/leafy green plants. 
    - Not eating the right diet results in serious dental disease.
     
  • Root vegetables (e.g. carrots) or fruit only in small amounts as treats. Don’t feed other treats as they may harm your rabbits. 
    - Rabbits don’t naturally eat cereals/root vegetables/fruit.
     
  • Safe, washed leafy green vegetables/herbs/weeds daily. Take care – some plants are poisonous. 
    - Avoid sudden changes in diets and do not feed lawnmower clippings as both these upset rabbits’ digestive systems causing illness.
     
  • Feeding quantities adjusted to prevent them from becoming underweight/overweight. 
    - Quantities rabbits need to eat depend on age/lifestyle/general health. 
    - Rabbits become overweight and may suffer if eating more food than needed.
     
  • The amount they eat and drink monitoring. If these habits change, droppings gets less/stop, or soft droppings stick to their back end, talk to your vet immediately as they could be seriously ill. 
    - Rabbits produce two dropping types – hard dry pellets, and softer moist pellets they eat directly from their bottom and are dietary essentials.

 

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