Rabbit Awareness Week is organised each year by a coalition of partners, including Burgess Pet Care, various vet bodies and charities including the RSPCA, RWAF, PDSA, Wood Green The Animals Charity and Blue Cross. Each year Rabbit Awareness Week focuses on highlighting one key welfare issue to help improve the lives of UK rabbits. This year, the topic is food.
The Problem with Muesli for Rabbits
Muesli-based diets have been proven to increase the risk of many harmful conditions for rabbits by published, peer-reviewed research undertaken by The University of Edinburgh. The study showed that muesli-based diets encourage selective feeding, where rabbits eat some (high starch/sugar) components of the muesli diet while rejecting the more fibrous pellets.
Selective feeding in this way increases the risk of:
- Dental Disease
- Reduced faecal output potentially leading to gut stasis
- Uneaten caecotrophs (sticky droppings) potentially leading to flystrike
All of these conditions are extremely damaging to rabbits’ health and welfare and can be fatal. Despite this, 25% of owners still feed muesli as part of their rabbit’s main diet, equating to 280,000 rabbits being fed a harmful diet.
In recognition of Rabbit Awareness week, we thought we’d recommend three of our favourite rabbit webinars:
By Rae Todd and Anne McBride
Rabbits are a social species and need the company of their own kind. This sounds easy, but rabbits are not always as sweet tempered with each other as we might think. Finding a friend for life needs forethought on the part of the human in terms of who, when and how. In this webinar we will give you tips on choosing a compatible rabbit, how set yourself up for success, and when and how to introduce them for life long companionship.
By John Chitty
Preventive medicine is, obviously, the art of preventing disease. Usually we consider this in the context of preventing infectious diseases, and this webinar will include details of vaccination against myxomatosis and RHD 1 and 2 as well as parasite prophylaxis. However, preventive medicine should not stop there, but should also include prevention of non-infectious diseases. this is where the regular check up comes into its own and dietary advice can be given to reduce dental disease and obesity-related problems. Similarly pre-purchase examinations may be part of this in encouraging owners to purchase “normal” shape rabbits and thus reduce production of breed extremes and so reduce aural disease, dental disease, and some spinal and feet problems. Advice on husbandry, too, can be key in preventing many diseases and improving welfare. Regular checks become more important as the rabbit gets older and there is a greater importance on recognising signs of geriatric disease and, in particular, reducing and managing pain from arthritic disease. Correct management can result in reduced use of drugs.
– understand role of vaccination in prevention of infectious viral disease
– understand role of parasiticides in parasitic disease control
– understand role of management and biosecurity in reducing infectious disease
– understand signs of arthritic pain and management of this
– understand the role of correct diet in disease prophylaxis
By John Chitty
This talk will cover the basic things a clinic needs to know when seeing rabbits. As well as covering how to handle and examine a rabbit along with preventive medicine, it will look at the rabbit’s basic biology and how this affects how we look after rabbits and make our clinics more rabbit friendly. This includes the basic advice we give to all owners (current and prospective) on how to keep rabbits and how to feed them. At the end of the talk the attendee should understand:
- what rabbits eat and how to feed the pet rabbit
- that rabbits are fearful prey species and how this affects the clinics seeing them
- how to examine a rabbit
- preventive medicine needs of rabbits
- how to reduce the chances of a rabbit breaking its back while being handled