Rabbits are known for their glossy, soft fur. The condition of your rabbits fur is often a direct reflection of their diet. Lack of nutrients and vitamins can contribute to lacklustre fur, skin irritations and even fur loss. If you are feeding your rabbit only pellets this could be the issue. Pellets are high in fat and protein, while low in fibre diet, and thus lack many important nutrients that rabbits need. To keep your bunny healthy and soft try altering its diet and adding in some supplements. You should start to see an improvement within a few days.
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Things you need
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruit, limited quantities
Select fresh hay as the primary food source for your rabbit. Hay is high in fibre, which is good for its digestive system. Hay has the additional benefit of helping to keep the rabbit's teeth short as well. Timothy, grass and oat hays should be made available to your rabbit at all times. Choose hay that is fresh and has a fresh-cut grass odour. Avoid brown or mouldy hay. To preserve hay store in dry a area in a container that allows air to circulate. This will help to prevent mould from forming.
Choose a varied assortment of fresh vegetables as a part of your rabbit's daily diet. If possible buy organic vegetables and always wash thoroughly. Introduce a new vegetable to your rabbit in small quantities for a few days, and monitor its stool for any adverse reactions, such as diarrhoea. Once you have determined that its system accepts the new vegetable you may incorporate it into your revolving menu. Rabbits enjoy variety, so switch things up every once in a while. Basil, celery, clover, dill, mint, parsley, water cress, cilantro and mustard greens are all good choices. Lettuce is also a favourite for rabbits; choose romaine or dark leaf, and avoid iceberg and cabbage as these can create a gassy bunny. Carrots should be given sparingly as they are high in calcium and cause stomach issues in the rabbit.
Monitor your rabbit's water intake. Water is an important part of your rabbit's diet. Lack of water may be contributing to poor fur conditions. Ensure that water is always available to your bunny by either a hanging water bottle or bowl. If you find your bunny is not drinking enough water, try dipping the vegetables in water before feeding.
Give fruits sparingly. Fruits are high in sugar and therefore should be given to your rabbit only as an occasional treat. Purchase organic fruit if possible and always wash thoroughly before feeding them to your rabbit. Some rabbit favourites include bananas, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries and apples without seeds.
Continue giving your rabbit pellets, but limit the intake amount to 1/4 cup for adult rabbits. If your rabbit is experiencing problems keeping weight on or off you should consult your veterinarian before changing its diet. Do not feed your rabbit pellet mixes that contain seeds, dried fruit or coloured cereals. These treats are high in sugar and harmful to the rabbits.
Expect some hair loss from your rabbit once or twice a year as it moults to change their coat. However, extreme hair loss should be noted and addressed. If improved diet does not rectify the hair loss look to see what types of stress the rabbit may be under. Stress from sudden noises, lights or other animal sounds can often lead to fur loss, as can extreme heat.
Watch for white dander in the fur loss as this may be indicative of fur mites. Ringworm is another possibility. Check for a ring pattern on your rabbit's skin. If you notice fur loss under the chin this may indicate that your rabbit has an abscess. Any of these conditions require a visit to your veterinarian.
Observe neighbouring rabbits. Barbering is when a neighbour rabbit nibbles the fur of a very submissive rabbit. If you find this to be the case, separate the rabbits into separate cages and store a few a feet apart from each other.
Tips and warnings
- Rabbits can live eight to thirteen years if they are spayed or neutered, receive a healthy diet and live inside the home as a part of the family. If possible purchase your hay from a local farmer; this is less expensive than a pet store and helps support the local farming community as well.
- Do not feed your rabbit nuts, grains or legumes. These foods are not natural for rabbits and can be very irritating to their delicate digestive system. Do not feed your rabbit leaves from houseplants since many of them are poisonous and can be fatal. As your rabbit ages cut back on the pellets. Pellets are high in protein and will cause weight issues in older bunnies. Never give your rabbit treats that are high in fat and sugar, such as cookies, chips, cereal, pastas or breads. Never give chocolate to rabbits -- it is fatal.
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