3 Simple Ways to Prevent Rabbit Obesity

Rabbit obesity can be easy to achieve if we are not careful. Once our little friends are carrying a few extra ounces or even pounds, it can mean the difference in whether or not they are able to groom themselves, get proper nutrition, and live a full life.

Preventing Rabbit Obesity - Natural Rabbit Care

Rabbit obesity is a problem that can touch your rabbit in more areas than you could shake a stick at. It can cause problems as treatable as sore hocks, or problems as difficult and perilous as liver or even heart issues. Their nutrition can hang in the balance if they are not able to reach their cecotropes to eat them. Just like our bodies don’t function correctly when we are overweight or obese, our rabbit’s won’t either, and fatty deposits can collect in their lungs, liver, and bladder, causing myriad issues to your treasured friend.

Aside from weighing your rabbit weekly, there are a few things we can do for our bunny friends to help them to stay at their proper weight.

Preventing Rabbit Obesity with Exercise

Chances are, your rabbit lives in a cage or hutch most of the time, which means that they don’t have the same opportunities for exercise as their counterparts in the wild enjoy. Never fear–there are still some simple things that you can do to help your precious little lagomorph get his daily workout.

Bunny Run

Set up a large fenced area in your yard where your rabbit can stretch his legs, and allow him at least one hour per day to do just that. If your fenced area isn’t predator-proofed, you’ll want to make sure that this time is not unsupervised. Here is an example of a predator-proofed bunny run.
 

Indoor Time

If a bunny run isn’t available, or if you’d just prefer to have your bunny closer to you, bring her indoors to cruise around the house. Make sure all cords are out of reach, because bunnies do like to chew them!
 

Toys

Hang toys from the ceiling of their hutch, or put ‘furniture’ in their cage. Bunnies love to rearrange their rooms, which provides a bit of activity, movement, and calorie burning for during those days when you can’t bring your rabbit out for exercise.
 

Prevent Rabbit Obesity with a Larger Living Space

Often, people will give their rabbits a multi-level living space where their bunnies can traverse upstairs, downstairs, and all around a large area, while still remaining contained. This is ideal, however, if you do not have that kind of space in your home, make sure that your rabbit’s cage or hutch is tall enough that they can stand on their hind legs without their ears touching the ceiling, and wide enough for at least 2-3 hops.

Prevent Rabbit Obesity with Proper Feeding

In order to keep your rabbit at a healthy weight, she needs to be fed a proper diet, in proper amounts, which will go a long way in keeping your rabbit comfortable and well-nourished.

Pellets

If you use pellets to feed your rabbit, he will need a specific amount to ensure that his weight remains balanced. House Rabbit Society suggests to feed as follows:

    5-7 lb body weight – 1/4 c daily
    8-10 lb body weight – 1/2 c daily
    11-15 lb body weight – 3/4 c daily

While the University of Minnesota Extension Office suggests:

    Small breeds: 2-3 oz per day
    Medium breeds: 3.5-4 oz per day
    Large/Giant breeds: 4-8 oz per day

The instructions on your feed bag will also give some guidance on how much to feed your rabbit, according to the nutrients included in the feed itself.
 

Hay

There are many types of hay that you can give to your rabbit, but by far, Timothy hay has been the most recommended. Rabbits require clean hay every day, available at all times. Hay provides the proper roughage needed to prevent blockage in their GI area, as well as a way for rabbits to chew as much as they need to. Hay does not have the calories that feed does, which makes hay a fabulous and needful addition to your rabbit’s nutrition.
 

Vegetables

Rabbits love vegetables, and there are all kinds that are very good for your rabbit. There are also many kinds that can cause weight gain, diarrhea, and other issues for your rabbit. Check out our Safe Foods for Your Rabbit post for a complete list of vegetables to feed to your bunny.
 

Treats

Treats should be few and far between. Fruits and starchy vegetables can present problems for your rabbit due to their sugar content. Avoid sugary foods on the whole, and feed nutritious foods that cause weight gain (think oats and sunflower seeds) only in the proper amounts, and not daily unless they are part of a carefully blended homemade feed with proper amounts added.

Sources:
Rabbit Environment – PDSA for Pets in Need of Vets
The Perils of Bunny Obesity by House Rabbit Society
University of Minnesota



 

Picking Your New Mini Lop

              Picking a new rabbit can be rather daunting. So today I’m going to write about my favorite breed: Mini Lops. I’ve always found them to be great pets, and I’d just like to share my information with people trying to pick their breed. This post will be about the ups and downs of Mini Lops and a touch about the Lop family. Hope you enjoy!

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My rabbit Michelle, sleepy after a rabbit show.

              When one is looking into rabbits, they have to take many, many things into consideration. The first, of course, being breed. Contrary to popular belief, each breed is extremely different not only in look but in temperament too. From my own personal experiences I’ve found that the smaller the breed is, the prissier they are. Of course, this isn’t a solid rule but only a suggestion. My personal favorite breed, one of two that I own, are Mini Lops. While they’re not an entirely popular breed (which actually surprises me, since they’re the classic ‘stuffed rabbit’ style, long body and lop ears), I’ve found them to be probably the most agreeable breed I’ve encountered.

              Mini Lops are, as the name suggests, in the Lop family. They sit beside one of the most common breeds in my area, Holland Lops, and less popular breeds such as: English Lops, French Lops, and the newer American Fuzzy Lop. ‘Lop’ refers to lopped, or ‘drooping’ ears. They hang by the cheeks and in their youth sometimes stick out horizontally. I’ve always found the Lop family to be docile and friendly but, like most rabbits, need a bit of training to get them into a particular rhythm. My rabbit, Michelle, was very easy to train and probably my only problems with her is how protective of her space she is. This is normal with rabbits and personally I think that makes sense. Imagine someone going into your house and moving everything around? Frankly, I’d be rather upset about it too.

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Michelle lounging in her cage.

              Now, the less fun part is the technicalities. If you choose a mini lop as your breed, you need to know a few things. Their ideal weight is around 6 pounds, but they can definitely gain weight quickly. My little girl is overweight, but so far it hasn’t created any problems outside of the rabbit showing world. There are tons of rabbit diet methods (that sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it?) out there, but I’ve always find that exercise goes far enough. Which brings me to the next thing to keep in mind: space. While Mini Lops can stay in their cages for most of the day, it’s always great to let them out and run.

              So there you have it: the bare-bones basics of Mini Lops. It’s definitely not everything you need to know, but it’s definitely enough to get you on the way. My own personal suggestion, no matter what breed you choose, is to do as much research as possible and then finally decide what suits your life best. To summarize Mini Lops: Calm, not difficult to train but can occasionally take some hard work, and lots of running space. I hope this helped teach you a thing or two about my favorite breed!

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Photo being used courtesy of Elemental Ranch, click photo to visit her facebook!
[ NOTE: Rabbit featured here has a poor coat due to recent kindling/birthing. ]

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Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways



 
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