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PetPeople Magazine

Diet Doctor

Q. Our vet has had to trim and file our rabbit’s teeth a couple of times now, and I’m worried we’re not feeding her the right things to keep them healthy. We do give her hay as well as fresh food, but she doesn’t seem keen on it.

A. I suspect it is the front teeth your vet has filed, as you wouldn’t easily notice re-growth of the back teeth (a rabbit’s mouth doesn’t open wide like a cat or dog’s). Overgrown incisors can be a sign of problems with the molars. A balanced diet is key to the correct growth of bunnies’ teeth. I use the analogy of a cake to describe the balance: the sponge is the hay, the icing a good-quality pellet food (not muesli-type) and the cherry on the top is fresh food. Muesli-type feeds have fallen out of favour because a rabbit kept on its own may consistently leave a particular part of the mix, such as the boring but important mineral pellets! If there are two or more bunnies housed together, the bowl may be cleared but you can’t be sure each is eating a balanced diet. Have your rabbit’s cheek teeth checked and try to make her diet healthier by giving her plenty of fresh hay and a good-quality complete pellet.

Going up

Dental care formulation Almost like feeding your pet a toothbrush!

Fish oil High in omega-3 without the fat-soluble vitamins A and D found in cod liver oil.

Glucosamine A dietary supplement for the joints.

Going down

Vitamin/ mineral supplements Only necessary if you’re worried about the balance of nutrients in a home-made diet.

Cod liver oil Could lead to high, toxic levels of vitamin A.

Snacks and titbits Watch those waistlines!

Alison Logan has worked in a small animal practice in Colchester, Essex since graduating from Cambridge University in 1989. She writes for various publications and was the winner of the Vétoquinol Literary Award in 1995 and 2002. Alison is married to a local solicitor; they have a black Labrador retriever and two children.

Originally published in Petplan’s PetPeople magazine.

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