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RABBIT AWARENESS WEEK 23rd - 29th May 2011




"Obesity in rabbits is an increasing problem.  The desire to be ‘kind’ to our small ‘fury friend’ means that we often tend to over feed them – as well as, more importantly, feed inappropriate foods.

Unfortunately this common problem has severe and unpleasant consequences.  Obese rabbits lead an increasingly sedentary life style – creating a vicious circle of weight gain. 

The extra weight means that grooming becomes difficult, so secondary problems such as fly strike occur.  It also means that ulcers on their feet are common, and more seriously deposits of fat within their liver and gut leads to metabolic changes that can often be fatal.

A healthy life style is essential in rabbits just as it is with us, and Rabbit Awareness Week aims to promote just that.  Lots of exercise, appropriate diet and mental stimulation will all help to ensure that your rabbit is fit and healthy.”

Rabbits are now the third most popular British pet and it is estimated that there are between 1.6 and 2 million pet rabbits in the UK. However, at least 80% of rabbits are not being fed correctly, which is the most common reason for rabbits becoming ill and suffering dental problems. Hay, or forage, is not just for sleeping on - it's the most important part of your rabbit's diet.


Good quality forage has loads of health benefits, including:

  • Maintaining healthy teeth. Rabbits' teeth grow 2-3mm a week, so chewing forage keeps them ground down. Three in four rabbits seen by vets are diagnosed with dental problems, which arise when the teeth grow too long.


  • Keeping the gut healthy. The high levels of fibre found in forage are vital for a healthy digestive system.


  • Preventing boredom. Foraging in hay will help keep your rabbit entertained.


  • Plenty of fresh hay should be given daily, such as Excel Forage and Excel Herbage.


  • As well as forage, feed your rabbit a pellet food such as Burgess Excel, which comes recommended by vets and contains the optimum balance of nutrients in every nugget.


  • Don't feed a muesli mix, as your rabbit will simply pick out the bits it likes and leave the rest, missing out on vital nutrients. It may look more appetising to us than a pellet food, but the position of their eyes means that rabbits can't see what they're eating.
  • Make sure your rabbit has access to fresh, clean water at all times.


  • One in three rabbits in the UK are obese. Help your rabbit lose weight by providing lots of opportunities for exercise and feeding a reduced-calorie food such as Excel Lite.


  • Rabbits have 7,000 more taste buds than humans so give them some variety in their diet. Stick to healthy treats such as spinach or kale but feed them in small amounts. Excel Nature Snacks can be fed daily as they contain only pure, natural grass, with herbs for extra flavour. See the Going green leaflet at for more information.


  • Never feed your rabbit human food. Some human food is poisonous to rabbits, so don't take the risk.


  • Keep your rabbits vaccinations and worming up-to-date, The main route of infection is via insect “vectors” (e.g.fleas and mosquitoes) that have previously bitten an infected rabbit. Midges and mites have recently fallen under suspicion, and research  sponsored by the Rabbit Welfare Fund is underway to clarify the role of these potential vectors. Direct contact with infected rabbits can also spread the disease. All pet rabbits - indoors or outdoors – are at risk. Rabbits living outside (especially if wild rabbits enter the garden)are at especially high risk


Rabbits rely on consuming their caecotrophs (soft faeces) for nutrients, however obese rabbits are often unable to reach behind and eat them. This can result in caecotrophs sticking to the skin around the anus, which may lead to Flystrike. Rabbits commonly suffer from osteoporosis (weak bones) if they are not allowed enough exercise, often due to a diet low in calcium, and dental conditions are also a major issue in rabbits with 75% of pets seen by vets diagnosed with the problem.

Good clean, sweet smelling hay or grass, such as Excel Herbage or Forage should form the basis of all rabbits' diets. Rabbits require a substantial amount of fibre in the diet to help promote a healthy digestive system. Aside from containing many vital ingredients, nibbling hay or grass reduces boredom and behaviour problems and helps to grind down rabbits teeth naturally, maintaining good dental health. Hay should be fed in plentiful amounts and should be fresh every day.

Many owners give their rabbits sugary, starchy treats such as chocolate drops, however a much healthier option is to feed pets products from the Excel Snacks range. These, together with fresh greens and a variety of herbs in moderation, will add a healthy variety to a rabbit's diet.







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