According to official statistics, over 2.2 million households in the United States alone have a rabbit pet, making this animal one of the most popular pet choices. The Dutch rabbit is the most common breed you will find across the country. People who live in apartments or smaller houses prefer opting for dwarf rabbits or lop rabbits which are smaller and can be easily kept indoors.
Unfortunately, owners rarely think about their pet’s ( Rabbit’s )weight, ending up stuffing them with treats and snacks that are rich in calories and make them overweight and even obese. In the long term, obese bunnies will develop severe health problems that can lead to a sooner death.
So, if you truly care about your adorable bunny, here are some easy tips to make sure it lives a long, happy, and healthy life.
Provide a healthy diet to your pet
Rabbits are pickier than other small pets when it comes to food, so not everything that you see labeled as “rodent food” in pet shops will suit their needs. In fact, these animals are often mistaken for rodents when they are only long-distance relatives to them, meaning their nutritional needs differ.
No matter the age, gender or breed of your long-eared Bugs Bunny, its diet should consist of natural and organic ingredients only. According to specialists, about 85% of its daily food should be made of grass hay, usually timothy, barley or oat. This ingredient is essential to a rabbit’s digestive process while also having beneficial effects on its teeth.
The good thing is that you can provide as much hay as you want to your pet, as long as you stick to the right ones. You can also offer your bunny alfalfa but keep in mind that this type is richer in proteins and calories, so you should consider the right amount.
Pellets, fruits, and veggies make for the rest of 15% of the animal’s diet. Keep in mind that it prefers leafy greens, so anything from kale to lettuce, mustard greens, parsley, carrot tops, radicchio, Romaine lettuce, and even beet tops will do. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, pea pods or green peppers can also be served but in smaller amounts.
As for fruits, we know they are delicious but you should limit the amount you offer to your pet, especially if you’re looking after its weight. Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and natural antioxidants that will boost your bunny’s immune system and help it fight diseases and bacteria but they are also stacked on sugars which can help them gain weight.
Thus, specialists recommend offering no more than two ounces of fruits for every six pounds of body, meaning dwarf rabbits should only receive them as treats or snacks.
Make sure it has decent living conditions
Providing a balanced and healthy diet won’t suffice to keep your bunny on the right track and protect it in the long term. Apart from your unconditional love and cuddles, bunnies also require a safe and comfortable place to live whenever you’re not around them.
Dwarf rabbits and smaller breeds can easily adapt indoors and live in regular cages while larger breeds will often require more space, so you should consider outdoor hutches and cages. If you’re not sure which type would best suit your pet’s needs, this review will help you find the perfect match.
Help it exercise
The best way to keep your bunny in shape is to help it exercise as often as possible. If you have a big backyard, allow your pet to wander freely for at least one-two hours daily. No matter how large and spacious the huts are, they will only provide enough room for your rabbit to stretch its legs.
Rabbits love jumping around and running, so let them explore the surroundings of your garden or backyard. If you don’t trust them not to run away, you can make an additional hutch with high walls.
Don’t forget to also give them plenty of toys and exercise accessories such as balls, running wheels, swings, and others. All these items will stimulate their brain and curiosity as well as help them stay in shape and even lose a few ounces.
Serve smaller portions
If you don’t seem to control your pet’s weight too well, perhaps serving it smaller portions is a better idea. Don’t forget that the amount of food fed daily differs depending on the rabbit’s breed, age, and size.
Talk to a vet about making a few changes in its diet and opt for foods that are richer in proteins and low in carbs and fats. If necessary, weigh every meal you serve and monitor your pet’s eating habits to make sure you’re doing everything right. Also, don’t forget that each individual is different and your pet might enjoy cuddling and sleeping more than jumping around.