Rabbit's fed on the proper diet don't need to add anything else to their feeding regime. However, with the rise of the domestic house rabbit, (not having access to outside foraging), and an increase in 'cheaper' mass produced rabbit food (pellets and muesli), the need for animal supplements has become a necessary part of their daily diet.
Some foods are good for rabbits and some natural consumables found in nature in their raw, unprocessed form can be excellent alternatives to prescribed synthetic medicines and have natural antibiotic properties.
They stimulate and boost the immune system, killing or preventing pathogens from reproducing within the body and increase the natural resistance to infection.Battle the bugs with this 'super-food' shopping list...
Natural anti-biotic compounds are essential for your rabbit's medicine cabinet'.
These animal supplements are a few that my cabinet will never be without!
Colloidal silver is made from natural ingredients which treats and removes viruses, bacteria
and fungi without damaging the surrounding healthy cells. It has been
used very effectively to treat bacterial,
fungal and viral infections in pets just as well as it does in humans.
Also known as the American coneflower, Echinacea has been used for hundreds of years to strengthen the immune system and fight a variety of infections. It is what's called an immune system stimulant and broad spectrum natural antibiotic.
Like all species, rabbits have nutrient requirements that can be met by consuming certain ingredients.
A rabbit’s basic nutrients are protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water, which is the most important.
Let's take a look at each one in more detail...
Proteins are made up of amino acids which make up the rabbit's DNA and enzymes.
Proteins play a role in most cellular functions. In addition, proteins have an important structural role in the body where they make up muscle, fur/hair, nails, and skin.
Rabbits require proteins in their diet for both essential and non-essential amino acids.
Examples of essential amino acids for rabbits are lysine, methionine, valine, leucine, and isoleucine.
Rabbits use lower quality proteins than humans. Bacteria in a
rabbit's colon produce protein (in the form of more bacterial cells),
which the rabbit can use to meet its nutrient needs by practising
cecotrophy (consumption of select stools rich in protein and bacterial
cells). More on that here...
A rabbit’s protein requirements increase during times of growth,
pregnancy, or lactation (milk production).
Carbohydrate is a major source of energy for rabbits. Most of the carbohydrate requirement for rabbits is in the form of fibre.
A diet too high in grain or ferment-able fibre, such as oats and corn, can cause enteritis.
High levels of non digestible fibre, such as Timothy grass hay and alfalfa hay, may help prevent enteritis and obesity.
Non digestible fibre is not fermented in the caecum, whereas digestible fibre is fermented by passing though the caecum.
Non digestible fibre is important for dental health because it helps wear rabbits’ teeth. Non digestible fibre also helps stimulate gut motility. Ferment able fibre helps rabbits digest cecotrophs as well as prevents colonization of the caecum by pathogenic bacteria, helping to prevent bacterial overgrowth and decreasing the likelihood of enteritis.
Volatile fatty acids (i.e., propionate, butyrate, acetate) are produced by bacteria in the caecum, absorbed into the bloodstream, and used as energy.
To produce volatile fatty acids, rabbits require crude fibre of at least 12% to 16% DM, depending on life stage: 12% DM for lactation, 14% DM for gestation, and 15% to 16% DM for growth and maintenance.
Pet rabbits need higher levels of fibre to help prevent obesity and hair chewing and to maintain GI health.
A desirable amount of fibre for pet rabbits is 18% to 25% DM.
Low-fibre diets can decrease GI motility, possibly leading to retention of food and hair and to formation of hairballs (trichobezoars).
Rabbits cannot vomit hairballs like some
animals can; therefore, blockages can be life-threatening.
You can learn more on the rabbit digestive system here...
Fats are organic compounds that are insoluble in water and serve several important functions in the body. Fats supply energy, provide essential fatty acids, carry fat-soluble vitamins, and are an important part of cell membranes.
Rabbits use fat for energy and to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Most foods contain 2% to 5% DM fat, which rabbits can get from a vegetable diet.
Rabbits do not need fat added to their feed.
Fat can increase palatability, but an excess amount can increase the risk of obesity, hepatic lipidosis, and atherosclerosis in the aorta.
Rabbits, like humans, require a number of different vitamins. These vitamins can be divided into the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and the water-soluble vitamins (B complex and C).
The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. B vitamins are synthesized by bacteria in the caecum and colon and are absorbed by eating cecotrophs.
Vitamins are required in small amounts by the body, and each one has its own function in the body.
Lack of any one vitamin in the diet can cause deficiency symptoms
or illness, while excesses of some vitamins can also be toxic.
Obesity can prevent a rabbit from reaching its anus to eat its cecotrophs, resulting in a vitamin deficiency.
Pelleted feed is usually fortified with vitamins and minerals but to prevent destruction of vitamins A and E due to oxidization, rabbit feed should be fed within 90 days of milling.
Rabbits require about 22 different inorganic elements, known as minerals, in their diet.
These may be required in relatively larger amounts (macrominerals) or relatively smaller amounts (microminerals or trace minerals).
The macrominerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chlorine, potassium, magnesium, and sulfur.
Minerals have different functions in the body.
If you think you may need additional minerals & salt in your rabbit's diet, you can get blocks and 'licks' here...
Water is the most important nutrient for rabbits and should be fresh and readily available. Rabbits consume approximately 10% of their body weight in water per day.
Recognizing and meeting their unique nutritional needs of your rabbits can help give them a long, healthy and happy life.
Their diet should also be appropriate for the rabbit’s age and stage in life.
A controlled amount of high-quality grass hay pellets with fresh grass hay, vegetables, and fruits is an optimal diet for a pet rabbit.
Share your views, points, tit-bits and tales! (Remember, you don't have to have a Facebook account to make a comment.)
All input is good, no matter how small ;-) Thank-you.