New findings reveal that the answer to Bugs Bunny’s well-known catchphrase ‘What’s up Doc?’ might have been ‘Stop eating the carrot!’ as 85% of vets have serious concerns about rabbits’ health due to the wrong food.
British veterinary organisations have found that, while many rabbit owners may know that carrots should be fed only as occasional treats due to their high sugar content, many myths still prevail about the best food.
Misconceptions about feeding mean many vets are seeing rabbits suffering obesity, gut problems and dental disease. Of the top six rabbit health problems seen by vets in the past 12 months – some of which, such as flystrike, can be fatal, – all but one was attributed to poor diet.
Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association, said: “Rabbits are fantastic animals, but for years they were considered an ‘easy’ or great ‘first pet’ and we’re still seeing the effects of that – with a shocking five in six vets seeing rabbits suffering from very preventable illnesses.
“Some rabbit owners don’t realise the kind of care they are providing is making their rabbit unwell, which is upsetting as, by the time you find out, it might be too late for your rabbit. We all want what’s best for our pets, so we’d encourage potential owners to do their research and speak to their local vet before buying your bunnies.”
The BVA says rabbits should be fed fibre-based, plain diets packed with clean hay, grass and leafy greens such as broccoli, cabbage and kale – but never lettuce. A correct diet will also assist in preventing dental problems, it says, as it will help keep moderate the length of rabbit’s long front teeth, which continue to grow throughout their lifetime. Rabbits should not be fed ‘rabbit muesli’, according to the association.