Such foodstuffs – with or without hay – can cause painful dental and digestive problems, finds research from University of Edinburgh and Burgess Pet Care.
Research from the University of Edinburgh’s vet school has found feeding muesli-style foods to rabbits – with or without hay – could cause painful dental and digestive problems.
The research – supported by Burgess Pet Care, and carried out over two years – found the foods cause a number of problems, including:
- slower gut motility, which can cause gut stasis – an often fatal condition
- the consumption of less hay, which can cause abnormal growth of teeth as well as a reduction in water intake, which could lead to urinary tract problems
- lesser consumption of caecotrophs, so the mammals may not get all the nutrition they need. Uneaten caecotrophs may also become matted in fur, putting the animals at risk of dermatitis and fly strike
- selective feeding – where rabbits pick out their favourite pieces rather than eating the whole portion – which can lead to an imbalanced diet lacking in vital vitamins and minerals
- obese and overweight animals
Anna Meredith from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at Edinburgh, said: “The findings of this research have significant implications for the feeding of the nation’s rabbits. Vets have suspected for a number of years that feeding muesli-style foods could lead to health issues in rabbits, and now we have the proof to substantiate that.”
Managing director of Burgess Pet Care Paul Miley said: “It will come as no surprise to vets, and indeed the pet food industry, that feeding muesli-style foods to fibrevores is unhealthy. What will be a surprise is the clarity of Prof Meredith’s findings.
“With this research, we and our Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) partners will seek to eliminate this dangerous food stuff from the pet food aisles. To assist this transition we’re offering a full range of educational materials for vets, vet nurses, staff and, of course, consumers, with clear instructions on how to feed a healthy diet, the issue with muesli and how to safely manage the transition.”
RAW, which commences May 4 (2013), and is backed by the RSPCA, Wood Green, Blue Cross, PDSA and the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, will see vet practices and retailers across the country celebrating the exotic mammal with events, competitions and offers.
For more information, visit the RAW website.