Friday, October 21, 2011

UK Study Shows Obesity Epidemic in Rabbits

The results of a national pet health report in the UK conducted by a large veterinary charity, PDSA, show pets in the United Kingdom are in the middle of an obesity epidemic. When compared to cats and dogs, rabbits have the least amount of junk foods (26%) in their diets. However, this equates to over 430,000 bunnies consuming a diet "that includes toast, biscuits, cake, cheese and crisps."  Yikes! This is a long way from a healthy diet of primarily timothy hay, vegetable greens and a small amount of pellets.  These thousands of rabbits are at risk of developing obesity related and certainly life-threatening disease if their diets don’t improve. The data from the report came from 11,000 pet owners in the United Kingdom.
Rabbits are prone to digestive issues and many of the treats meant for humans can cause a blockage resulting in GI Stasis. That is just the short-term issue. In the long run obesity can cause sore hocks, arthritis, overdeveloped dewlaps in females, soft stools, etc.  And, the list could go on. Overweight rabbits are also unable to properly clean themselves or reach to consume their cecotrophs.  Plus, it is a quality of life issue for bunnies too tired to have normal activity levels.  This type of study has never been done in the USA as far as I know for rabbits.  Based on the number of emails I have recieved over the years asking if Cheerios, pasta or potato chips are safe treats, I wonder how the USA would compare if the same study were conducted here.