Feeding rabbits - essentials of rabbit nutrition

Essential guidelines on feeding rabbits, plus order your free copies of our new feeding booklet

Posted: 12 November 2017

Feeding rabbits - essentials of rabbit nutrition


With just under a million rabbits being kept as pets in the UK, it’s no surprise we are see more and more of them in our clinics. Most of their problems arise from a lack of awareness of their nutritional and husbandry needs despite the abundance of information available.

Too many owners fail to feed their pets with a diet rich in fibre. Muesli and poor quality diets are still available and too often diets are deficient in grass and hay.

High fibre diets

Fibre is essential to;

  • Maintain normal gut movement
  • Regulate normal fermentation processes
  • Prevent gastrointestinal stasis
  • Promote healthy dentition

Choose feeding-hay and grass

When selecting the best fibre rich diet for rabbits we need to consider the levels of different fibres, including fermentable fibre (digestible); non-fermentable fibre (indigestible); neutral detergent fibre (hemicellulose, lignocellulose); and acid detergent fibre (cellulose and lignin). To help you get a good understanding of their requirements, read this European Pet Food Industry Federation’s (FEDIAF) document.

At Burgess Pet Care we are passionate about good nutrition and the importance of high fibre diets. We’ve developed a full range of products that completely satisfy the needs of rabbits and other fibrevores.

Beware of obesity

Energy levels and food intake must be carefully maintained

Many rabbits become obese as a result of overfeeding, which is why monitoring is highly recommended. Discuss with your clients how much food is offered and eaten. When they’re in the consulting room check their weight and body condition score.

Body Condition Scores

The Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA) website features a useful rabbit size-o-meter.

Three feeding top tips

  1. Don’t feed muesli – make sure that your pet owners are fully aware of the consequences of muesli style, high carbohydrate diets
  2. High fibre – ensure they are offered plenty of good quality feeding hay and grass. Ideally they should eat around the same volume of hay as their overall body size. This also equates to about 5% of their body weight.
  3. Monitor – encourage weight and body condition checks. Measure food intake.

Muesli Booklet – get your free copies

Burgess Pet Care has recently published new research on rabbit nutrition and its impact on health and welfare in a booklet for retailers and vets.

The research, supported by Burgess Pet Care and carried out by The University of Edinburgh, highlights the dangers of feeding rabbits muesli style diets. It’s intended to support retailers and vets in guiding rabbit owners through the process of making the right choices on their rabbits’ nutrition.

If you want to order some copies for your practice, contact us today. You can email us at marketing@burgesspetcare.co.uk.

The booklet includes advice on raising awareness of the differences between feeding hay and bedding hay, the importance of providing the right amount of hay and grass and how to encourage and maintain sales through efficient merchandising and POS displays.

Research from this year’s PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report showed that 25 percent of rabbit owners are still feeding unhealthy muesli style diets. It’s hoped the research included in the booklet will increase awareness around the risks of feeding muesli, and more rabbit owners will make the right choices about fibre and diet.

If would like to receive copies of the booklet, please contact us at Burgess Pet Care directly on: 01405 862241 or email marketing@burgesspetcare.co.uk.