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Resources, Information and Pet Care

Rabbit Feeding Recommendations

FEEDING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PET RABBITS

Why is diet so important?
• Feeding is perhaps the single most important factor in maintaining a healthy rabbit
• In the wild rabbits eat grass! They may graze for 6-8 hours plus per day. Their whole digestive tract – from
teeth to gut’s end is adapted to this diet & eating habit
• Rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout life. They depend on their diet to help wear down their teeth &
keep all their teeth in good shape. Without healthy teeth a rabbit will not lead a happy & healthy life
• Rabbits are also naturally ‘coprophagic’, meaning they eat some of their own droppings. They need to do this
in order to keep themselves and their digestive tract healthy
• Many commercial “rabbit” foods do NOT contain enough fibre, which is essential to good pet rabbit health.
The fibre content of your pet rabbit’s diet should be greater than 18%

Feeding
Staple Diet: Keep it simple. Provide them with a “Hay and Veggies” diet.
Give them hay – Provide your rabbits with a constant supply of good quality fresh grass or grass hay eg;
Timothy, Oaten, Pasture, Paddock, Meadow or Ryegrass hays. (Not Lucerne or clover hays as they are too high
in protein and calcium). This is paramount in providing the complete diet and encourages “chewing” for long
periods of time
Veggies are good too – Feed fresh leafy greens & vegetables. As a guide, feed around 2 packed cups of leafy
greens per kg (at least 3 different varieties) per day, some examples are;
Veggies: broccoli, cabbage, celery, endive, beet/carrot tops, brussels sprouts, spinach leaves, Bok Choy, dark
leafed lettuce varieties (no iceberg lettuce)
Herbs: parsley, dandelion, coriander, basil, dill, mint etc
What about treats? Treats may be offered in small quantities (only 1-2 tablespoons per rabbit per day!)
Some examples are; most fruits, root vegetables (carrot, sweet potato), capsicum
No-Nos! (these should not be offered to pet rabbits). Cereals, grains, nuts, seeds, corn, beans, peas, breads,
biscuits, sweets, sugar, breakfast cereals, chocolate!

Other Important Points
• Rabbits should NOT be fed on “pellets” or “mixes”. Many commercial rabbit pellets do not meet the nutritional
analysis as set out below. If pellets are offered, consider them as treats. They should only be offered in treat
quantities
• Try to keep feeds & feeding habits consistent. Any changes made should be made gradually (over a 2-3
week period) to minimise digestive upsets
• Other supplements, salt licks etc aren’t necessary
• Providing other objects to chew on is also a good idea, try offering items such as wooden chew blocks, old
telephone books etc. If their hutch is of wooden construction it may be chewed, so beware!
• Always have fresh clean water available – preferably from a water bottle type drinker. Open water bowls may
be soiled by the rabbit which could promote disease
• If possible, allow rabbits to have access to natural unfiltered sunlight, UV light is an important factor in their
Vitamin D metabolism
Suggested Pet Rabbit food analysis
Crude fibre >18% (Indigestible fibre component >12.5%) Phosphorus 0.4-0.8%
Protein 12-16% Vit A 10,000-18,000 IU/kg
Fat 1-4% Vit D 800-1200 IU/kg
Calcium 0.6-1.0% Vit E 40-70mg/kg

WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY?

WHAT IS AN EMERGENCY?

CONDITIONS NEEDING TO BE SEEN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Most poisonings
More than 2 seizures in an hour
Bloated abdomen especially in large dogs
Male animals that cannot urinate
Birth difficulties
Most road trauma especially with difficult breathing, uncontrolled bleeding, non weight bearing lameness i.e. possible fractures, loss of consciousness or inability to stand unaided.
Severe blood stained diarrhoea.
Heat-stroke (uncontrolled panting esp. on hot nights)

CONDITIONS THAT CAN WAIT A FEW HOURS OR OVERNIGHT
Skin disorders & scratching
Ear disorders and head shaking
Most vomiting & diarrhoea cases
Depression, lethargy and loss of appetite
Lameness with no known trauma
Torn nails or dewclaws
A one-off seizure episode
Sudden loss of balance & head-tilt in very old dogs
If your pet needs emergency veterinary treatment it is best to phone ahead

CHOCOLATE TOXICITY

Just like us, dogs love the taste of chocolate however this is one treat you simply can’t afford to give to them.  This is because it contains Theobromine which is highly toxic to dogs and other animals.  It also contains caffeine which is also toxic at specific levels. Dogs are more commonly prone to chocolate toxicity because of their ability to seek out and find hidden chocolates.  Also because many people, especially children are unaware of its dangerous side effects it is sometimes innocently offered as a treat. Read More »

HEAT STROKE

Remember heat stroke occurs easily in animals. Recently we have treated two dogs for heat stroke successfully , however sadly at our partner clinic there has just been our first fatality from heat stroke. The most likely and common cause is a dog or cat left in a car. Sounds obvious but it still happens. Other causes could be excessive exercise on a very hot day or confinement somewhere without relief from the heat generated by a hot day.

Emergency measures include removal of the animal from the offending area, spraying the animal under a cold hose on the back lawn in the shade or place the animal under a cold shower until it feels cooler or starts to pant less. Seeking advice from your local veterinary clinic is then the next step. Rushing the pet there before attempting to cool it down first may not be the best thing, especially if there is a fair distance to drive. Ringing for advice first may be safer.

Remember, the best treatment is avoidance! DONT LET IT HAPPEN!

Summer Mythbuster?

Does shaving a dog in summer make them cooler?

We often hear people say their dog will be shaved for the summer as he/she will feel a lot better. But do they? A dog loses body heat by evaporative cooling(to do with latent heat of water & calories of heat energy) from the respiratory tract by panting. They do not lose heat as sweat directly through the skin as humans & horses do. It would follow therefore that the length or density of the coat should make no difference to the dog’s comfort as regards comfort on hot days. We know the wool tip temperature of a sheep’s fleece out in the paddock on a hot day may be as high as 46 but only about 39 at the skin ie not far from the sheep’s normal body temperature. This is a different subject relating to the insulation efficiency of wool but shows how that species, along with heat loss by rapid respiration, can cope with high ambient temperatures despite their “woolly overcoats” 

We encourage dogs (& cats) to be clipped in summer for different reasons. Washing & drying (eg for fleas) is much easier, grass seeds much less likely to catch on the coat & in cats, knots are easier to control.

Dangerous Foods: Are They Harmful to Your Dog?

Australians spend over $5 billion dollars a year on food for our pets. Despite buying the best food available, some pets would rather eat what we eat. However, certain foods can be dangerous to your pet, causing varying degrees of illness. Some food is toxic due to ingredients and some by improper cooking, storage or poor hygiene. Read More »

Rabbit Care

Rabbits can make ideal loving pets. They have special needs that must be met to enable them to live a happy and healthy life.
There is a wide variety of rabbit breeds. It is important to familiarise yourself with what a rabbit needs & what you are able to
provide. There are many aspects to housing, feeding, handling, health & veterinary care to consider. Read More »