Fiber may be the most important ingredient in your rabbit’s diet. It helps his digestive system run smoothly and keeps him fit and healthy. Here is what you need to know about fiber and the best sources of it:
Benefits of Fiber: Fiber helps your rabbit stay healthy and fit. Rabbits’ digestive systems are designed to process a low energy, low protein diet, and they need a lot of fiber to do this. Fiber keeps the digestive system from overworking itself, as it coarse and hard to digest.
Dangers of a Low-Fiber Diet: If your rabbit doesn’t get enough fiber, very serious health problems can arise.
- Obesity: Rabbits with a low fiber diet tend to be overweight more frequently than those getting enough fiber. This is because your rabbit is most likely getting most of his nutrients from foods higher in carbohydrates and energy than fibrous foods, which leads to excess weight.
- GI Stasis: Gastrointestinal Stasis is a serious condition that is often caused by a low-fiber diet. Rabbits with GI Stasis have digestive systems that stop working because of a lack of fiber. When this happens, your rabbit may develop hairballs and could stop eating. There are a few steps you should take in this event to help your rabbit:
- Talk to your veterinarian about medications and treatment
- Increase the amount of fiber in his diet
- Increase exercise
- Give him Vitamin B supplements
- Massage his stomach
Sources of Fiber: Now that you know why your rabbit needs fiber, you need to be able to provide it to him. Though most pelleted rabbit foods contain some fiber, it’s not plentiful or high-quality enough to sustain your rabbit’s digestion. Your rabbit will need a steady supply of hay to provide this fiber. For younger rabbits, alfalfa is perfect, but by the time your rabbit is a year old, you should switch to grass hays, like timothy hay or oat hay.
How do I know that my rabbit is getting enough fiber?
Here are some steps to take to make sure your pet is getting enough of this important ingredient:
- The first way to make sure your rabbit is getting enough fiber is to make sure he is getting enough hay. Fresh hay should be constantly available to your rabbit. If he eats it all or it turns yellow or brown, you should replace it.
- One sign of low fiber is Gastrointestinal Stasis, mentioned earlier. Stay on the lookout for these signs of GI Stasis:
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced defecation or diarrhea
- Weight loss
- If your rabbit’s stool is soft, it may be a sign of low fiber.
- Weight gain is often associated with low fiber.