Pet Rabbit Nutrition 101
One of the most important aspects of properly caring for your pet rabbit is providing him with a healthy, satisfying, and well-balanced diet. Fortunately, doing so is relatively easy, since there is general consensus about what is good for rabbits and a wide range of great food pellet options. Rabbits can also eat many of the fruits and veggies that you probably have on your dinner table every night (see below for recommendations and portions).
Hay is an essential component of a rabbit’s healthy diet. One reason why is that feeding a rabbit hay on a daily basis seems to reduce rabbits tendencies to pull out and consume or chew on their own hair, which leads to (sometimes very dangerous) hairballs.
Buy high-quality leafy grass hay, timothy hay or clover hay. Avoid alfalfa hay, as it can sometimes be problematic and has been shown to increase the risk of bladder stones.
Like all creatures, rabbits need fresh water in order to survive. Change water daily or at least every two days. When you change the water, also wash the water bottle or dish thoroughly to get rid of bacteria.
You may want to use a water bottle that can hang on a cage, as this can reduce the messiness factor. If you prefer to use a bowl, make sure it is sturdy and heavy enough so that your rabbit won’t overturn it.
Although it may sound funny, rabbits can actually benefit from yogurt just the same way that humans do. Yogurt is proven to reduce the bad bacteria in the body, balancing out the good bacteria in the process. Many pet rabbits seem to like yogurt and accept it as a part of a balanced daily diet.
As you will quickly learn as a new rabbit owner, bunnies love to bite and chew on things. This is actually essential for good dental health, but the trick is to give them good substances to chew on so they won’t be tempted to eat up your furniture or other, more dangerous substances, like wires or electrical cords.
A dog’s chew toy (on the smaller side) can be a great alternative, one which most rabbits seem to enjoy a great deal. Two more natural options are a large bone from a piece of boiled meat, with the bone marrow taken out, or some apple tree branches (the twigs are great roughage and help keep the bunny’s intestines clean).
Rabbits tend to be quite sensitive when it comes to changes in their diet or feeding schedule. In fact, if there is a sudden change or interruption, a rabbit may lose his appetite or become ill.
Therefore, it’s important to be consistant. Establish a feeding routine that is easy for you to stick to each and every day. Set your timer and fix the feeding schedule into your own everyday routine. Make sure you have enough rabbit food (whether hay, pellets, veggies, etc.) on hand so that you don’t run out unexpectedly.
Feeding your rabbit a consistent, balanced and healthy diet is one of the best ways to ensure that your pet has a long and happy life as your prized companion.
by Andrea Austin, http://www.rabbits-n-bunnies.com
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