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Article: Rabbits and Diet- Feeding your Truly Vegan Pet Properly: Article has some holes in it

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Forum: Article: Rabbits and Diet- Feeding your Truly Vegan Pet ProperlyReplies: 2, Views: 33
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Alliance, NE

September 24, 2012
11:30 AM

Post #9284987


Your article was well written, but I have to comment on a few of your points you made. I have raised rabbits for 28 years +, so what I am about to say comes from alot of years of experience.I have a herd of 50+ pedigreed/registered show quality Holland Lops, Netherland Dwarf and Dutch.
First off, your comment regarding maloclussion (aka wolf or buck teeth). This is NOT caused from a poor diet, however, proper nutrition does play a part in their teeth, an improper diet it will NOT cause this condition.This is a heriditary condition which causes this. On rare occasions, rabbits will get bored and pull on the wire of their cages, which can cause the teeth to be crooked. Normally clipping the teeth with needle-nose pliers will correct this. But clipping the teeth will NOT correct or cure maloclussion. The best thing is to have the rabbit destroyed.Left untreated, the rabbit will basically starve to death because of not being able to eat properly. You "can" clip the teeth for rabbits with maloclussion, however, if you are not experienced in this procedure, I do not recommend it. And remember, if you decide to start clipping the teeth, it will have to be done at least once a month or more often and for the rest of the rabbit's life. Rabbit's teeth grows constantly, all of their life.
Your opinion on rabbit pellets I do not agree with. Rabbit pellets are formulated with the correct vitamins, minerals ect. that a healthy rabbit needs. I would NEVER recommend people NOT feed pellets. It's the mainstay of a rabbit's diet. A feed, high in fiber, lower in protein is what I feed my animals and they do excellently on it. And I do not free feed mine. Depending on the breed, one should always limit the amount of feed a rabbit gets daily(this should aliviate the "fat" bunnies). The amount of pellets given daily depends on the breed and I recommend before purchasing a rabbit, you should speak to a well established breeder, investigate the different breeds of rabbits out there rather than going to the pet store, saying "oh what a cute bunny" and taking it home There are some excellent rabbit breeders out there who are more than willing to help beginners and share their loadstore of information they have on the breed, feeding, care, etc.
And I would NEVER recommend purchasing feed for your rabbit/s at a pet store, Walmart, etc. God knows how long it's been on the shelf for one and feed does have a shelf expiration date. Obvioiusly, the fresher the feed, the better it is. I recommend you go to your local feed store, Tractor Supply or farm/ranch type store to buy feed. The feed will be fresher and undoubtably lower priced too.
I TOTALLY beg to differ on your opinion that rabbit's cannot get furballs. Oh yes they can, especially the Angora-furred breeds such as English Angoras, Jersey Woolies, etc. And Papaya DOES help prevent this, but it also aids in digestion as well. I have never fed my animals Pineapple, so I cannot speak on that. Proper grooming (ALL THE TIME) can also help prevent fur blockages, so if you are going to have an Angora-furred bunny, remember, they come with alot of work.I buy Papaya tablets and have never fed fresh Papaya as that is not readily available where I live.
In feeding fresh veggies, one has to use their common sense. Rabbits cannot survive well on a diet of nothing but veggies. The NEED their pellets in addition. I have yet to meet a rabbit that will eat a radish, onions or garlic.And why would anyone give their bunny cookies, chocolate or any type of sweet for that point?? Fresh grass, as long as NO pesticides, chemicals of ANY nature have been applied, is excellent for bunnies, however, use your common sense. 5 lbs. of grass, carrots, whatever at one feeding is no more good for a rabbit than say 10 lbs. of chocolate for humans would be at one sitting. One thing to remember about giving them fresh grass-in the springtime when the grass first comes up, it can be loaded with nitrogen, which is NOT good for rabbits. (In cattle, it causes what is called Grass Tetney, which can be lethal for cattle). Give the grass a few weeks growing time before you start feeding it to your bunnies, just to be safe.
The one thing you did not mention in your article and you should have- To keep rabbits healthy, one must feed them a proper, balanced diet, but cage cleaniness plays an extremly important roll as well. And scrubbing their feed dishes and water bowls AND water bottles (if one so chooses to use those) must be done as well. Hot water and Clorox used to disinfect and clean cages floors, pans and dishes works very well.

Dawn Raskiewicz, Rising Sun Rabbits, Nebraska .


Acton, CA
(Zone 8b)

September 24, 2012
5:23 PM

Post #9285358

If you read the article closely I did mention the incisor malocclusion is a hereditary condition, not a dietary one. However, molar malocclusion is generally an acquired one, one usually easily avoided normally by a diet high in silica and a lot of chewing. I also agree that one cannot cure this condition (either one, actually) with trimming, though both can be treated. I have removed incisors on a number of rabbits that have had the incisors overgrowing and they have done quite well, and certainly have not starved to death. Untreated, however, over grown teeth can be not only painful, but can eventually cause rabbits to be unable to eat. I do not recommend trimming of overgrown trim with a clippers or any sort of cutting tool as likely this will end up in a cracked tooth (sometimes) and these cracks can extend into the jaw, leading to a painful condition, not to mention possibly a tooth root infection. We trim our rabbit patients with a dental drill, something that can require a bit of a tranquilizer on very nervous rabbits, but not always. Drills remove and smooth these teeth very easily (like butter actually) but I am spoiled by having one in my practices.. many others do not have this sort of thing available.

We can argue about rabbit pellets all you want, and I have seen hundreds of rabbits raised and kept on them that seem completely healthy to me. But then again I have seen a number of cases where all else seems to be normal other than the feeding of pellets and now the rabbit has ileus, requiring treatment. I have also see rabbits fed large quantities of cookies and junk and still seem normal. Does that mean this is ideal or OK? I have seen many old people who smoke a pack a day, but most would now agree this is not a healthful behavior, despite these people's seemingly healthy situation and age. So feeding a lot of pellets may lead to a lot of bunnies feeling and looking good, and even living a long time, but the evidence is mounting that this is not a healthful diet, no matter how well these pellets are balanced nutritionally. Rabbits raised and kept on hay and greens often live very healthy and long lives as well, and I have yet to see any gastrointestinal diseases in rabbits raised this way.

I did not make this stuff up, by the way. These dietary suggestions are based on the conclusions and recommendations of some of this countries (and Britains, too) leading veterinarians who specialize in treating rabbits. I am not a rabbit specialist, though I have treated them for over 27 years, and am learning this stuff as I go and listen to others.

I too raised Angora rabbits (we had a colony for about 10 years). Never fed them a pellet and never had a hairball. They do require an incredible amount of grooming however, and eventually we gave them to other Angora breeders who seemed to have more time on their hands to keep up with their matting. Rabbit grooming is NOT my area of specialty by a long shot, and that was my wife's job and 'love' (if you can call it that), which she eventually fell out of love with. I have yet to actually see a hairball in a rabbit of any breed being fed as I (and others) recommend above.

The papaya thing is curious... have you ever taken a fresh bowl of papaya juice and put some rabbit hair in it to see if it would dissolve, or in any way become affected (other than just get wet)? I used to treat rabbit 'hairballs' with papaya years ago when I too thought it did something, but rare successes have been explained off by others. Giving fluids orally and gruel to rabbits that have ileum (or what we used to call hairballs) seems to help get things moving again. I used to treat 'hairballs' this way, and I also used to surgically remove hair from rabbit stomachs. I actually got pretty good at this surgery and had a pretty good success rate, until I learned that surgery was rarely necessary. Since then I have cured every case of 'hairballs' I have seen (except in rabbits that are nearly dead... not too successful with those) with fluid therapy, pain meds if needed and oral supplementation of water and food (gruel, usually the Critical Care product Oxbow sells). Even the motility modifiers, such as Reglan and Propulsid are rapidly falling out of favor.

The papaya and pineapple experiments were done by others, but I sat through an interesting lecture by some rabbit specialists who supposedly tried this (or more likely, their vet students tried this). Rabbit gastric contents are SO acidic (nearly a pH of 2) -far more acid than any papaya. Admittedly rabbit stomachs have few digestive enzymes, but the 'digestive enzyme' experiment was supposedly also performed before... I should try these as they probably do not take too much effort. So far, nothing seems to digest hair, short of Draino.

the feeding rabbits 'new grass' is a good comment and I had not read/heard about this danger, though it does seem likely. I do not see that many outdoor rabbits here, that get to eat all the grass they want, but the ones I do see seem to avoid this situation by simply eating lawns that are currently growing (in southern California we don't get a period of 'new grass'... our lawns are growing and green year round, as long as they get watered OK). But I think we are lucky in this way, and this comment you make is a good one.

Cage cleanliness is extremely important, though a bit beyond the scope of this article. There are lots of other husbandy and medical advice I can give to rabbit owners, but that is gist for other articles, and likely not for this particular web site. Here we deal primarily with plants, so to even write this article about rabbit diets is a bit of a stretch since it's getting a bit far off topic. I had to tie in the vegetarian thing just to get it past the editors.
Eagle Point, OR
(Zone 8a)

September 26, 2012
9:33 PM

Post #9287550

Oh, what a fabulous article AND a response. Thank you both for all the info. I wish I had it years ago when, as a child, I rescued a bunny from slaughter. I fed it the juiciest, longest spring green grass I could find. It died within a week I think, suffering from terrible diarrhea. The man at the farm feed store said the green grass only diet was the problem. He also advised us to never feed a rabbit cabbage.

The next rabbit I got was fed "rabbit pellets" which must have been alfalfa. He also free-ranged at least every other day. I remember seeing him eat stalks of dead grass, and could not figure out why he ate that when he could have fresh. Now I know! He lived many years, dying because my sister's friend's dog chased him and broke his neck. Our dogs were his friends and protectors, he had no fear of them.

It is so sad when animals suffer from our mistakes and misunderstandings. Articles and responses like yours help so much. Thank You both. =^..^=

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