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Diet

A rabbit's diet should consist of good quality pellets, fresh hay (timothy or grass), fresh veggies and water, and occasional treats.  An age-based feeding schedule is suggested below.  Remember, improper feeding can cause health problems!

Pellets

The pellets must be high in fiber (at least 18%), and protein should be less than 16%.  Pellets should be stored in a cool, dry environment and can become stale after a few months, so only buy two months' worth at a time.  In addition, older pellets are more prone to mycotoxin poisoning.  Pellets purchased at pet shops or grocery stores may have been sitting in a warehouse for some time and may not have been kept in optimum conditions, so purchase from Bunny Lu, a feed store or pet supply store.  Limit the amount of pellets as the rabbit gets older to avoid obesity.

Vegetables

Veggies should be fresh and crisp.  Look for dark, green leafy veggies and root vegetables like carrots.   Feed a minimum of 1 cup of veggies per 4 pounds of body weight.  Select at least 3 different types of veggies daily to provide your rabbit with the necessary nutrients.  At least one veggie with Vitamin A should be given daily.  The following lists some of the veggies you can feed:

Basic Veggies High in Vitamin A
Alfalfa, Radish and Clover sprouts
Basil
Brussel Sprouts
Carrots
Celery (sliced thin to avoid choking)
Cilantro
Clover
Dandelion greens
Escarole
Green or Sweet Peppers
Mint
Parsley (flat or curly)
Peppermint leaves
Raddichio
Raspberry leaves
Lettuce (Romaine, green, leaf lettuce, etc.; NO ICEBERG)
Wheat grass
Watercress
Beet Greens (tops)
Carrot tops
Chicory/Endive
Collard greens*
Kale*
Mustard greens
Pea pods (flat edible kind)
Spinach*



*
use sparingly. High in calcium oxalates or goitrogens and may become toxic over time

Hay

Hay is essential to a rabbit's good health and must be available 24 hours a day. Hay provides roughage which reduces the risk of GI stasis (a medical emergency).  Alfalfa hay is high in calories and calcium and is only recommended for rabbits 6 months or younger.   After that age you should gradually switch to timothy or grass hay.

Water

Fresh water should be available at all times.  A rabbit will stop eating if fresh water is not available.   Most rabbits prefer a bowl to a bottle and the container should be washed with soap and water daily.

Treats

Rabbits can eat certain fruits such as apples and pears and love to get them as treats.   Limit fruits to 1-2 tablespoons per day for every 5 pounds of body weight (none if overweight).  Sugary fruits such as bananas and grapes should be fed especially sparingly.  Bunnies have a sweet tooth and if allowed to will devour sugary treats to the exclusion of healthier ones.  Since rabbits are unable to properly metabolize sugars and starches in their diet, these foods can disrupt the balance of good to bad bacteria in their GI system. The rabbit can develop enterotoxemia, an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the intestinal tract. This condition is extremely painful and usually fatal. Please feed these foods with caution.

Suggested treats (fresh or dried):

Apples (seeds are toxic-do not feed)
Blueberries
Bananas (not the peel)
Grapes/Raisins
Melon/Watermelon
Orange
Papaya
Peach
Pear
Pineapple
Plums
Raspberries/Strawberries

Suggested Feeding Schedule

Rabbits under 6 months of age should be fed unlimited amounts of pellets, alfalfa hay and water.

Rabbits age 6 months to 1 year old should be fed restricted pellets (1/3-1/2 cup per 5 pounds of body weight), twice daily (every 12 hours), unlimited timothy hay and water. You can also start introducing your rabbit to fresh veggies and fruit. Introduce veggies gradually and one at a time to make sure your rabbit is able to tolerate that veggie or fruit. If you notice loose stool, discontinue that veggie and try another.

Rabbits 1 year and older should be given restricted timothy based pellets (1/8 cup per 5 pounds of body weight twice daily), fresh veggies and fruit twice daily, and water fresh twice daily and unlimited timothy hay.

You Are What You Eat!

Improper feeding can cause many health problems to develop in a rabbit.  No matter how much your bunny begs, please DO NOT give your rabbit:  chocolate,  cookies,  crackers, breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, yogurt drops or other pet store "treats," or any "human" treats.  These foods have high amounts of sugar and/or starch and will greatly affect the health of your rabbit.

Here are a few diet-related things to watch for:

Obesity:  Rabbits love to eat and they also have a sweet tooth!  Please follow the feeding guidelines on this page to prevent obesity, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.  It is a good idea to weigh your rabbit monthly to determine if she is overeating.  Gradually reduce her food intake to provide for a slow weight loss program.  Rapid weight loss in rabbits causes fatty liver disease.

Red Urine :  Red urine is a common occurrence in rabbits and is usually caused by the pigments in the veggies the rabbit eats, such as carrots.  It is not usually a cause for concern and should change back to its normal color after making dietary changes. If it doesn't, contact your vet.

Loss of Appetite: The only reason a rabbit stops eating is due to illness.  Often, this is a "late" symptom and medical intervention is needed immediately.

Changes in Litter Box Habits:  Knowing what your rabbit's normal elimination habits are allows you to act quickly to prevent disease.  Thick creamy urine is usally a sign of too much calcium in the diet, and can easily lead to bladder or kidney stones. If you notice a change in your rabbits stool (smaller size or quanitity, different consistency, or misshapen, your rabbit may be starting to develop GI Stasis, a shut down of the rabbit's GI system.  The rabbit must immediately receive medical intervention which includes fluids and pain meds.