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Rabbit-Welfare / Back

Is My Rabbit Overweight?

IS MY RABBIT OVERWEIGHT?

 

In the wild, a rabbit will be constantly running around, foraging for food or escaping danger, preventing them from becoming overweight. Whereas, well loved pet rabbits will often be indulged, safe and probably not exercise as much, which can lead to weight gain. Many owners do not even realise that their bunnies are overweight, but excess weight or obesity is a serious issue for domestic rabbits. It can put strain on the cardiovascular system and joints, and impair a rabbit’s ability to properly groom and clean themselves. [25]

 

The easiest way to tell if your rabbit is overweight is to actually feel their body, rather than just look at it. Gently run your fingertips along the sides of your rabbit. You should be able to feel their ribs and a layer of fat on top. Run your fingertips down the rabbit’s spine. You should be able to feel it and it not be too sharp. Vets will use a Body Condition score to assess your rabbit’s weight and to determine how overweight they are and how much they need to lose. The ideal score is a 3 out of 5 and would indicate the rabbit was at its optimum weight.

 

Rabbit Size-O-Meter

1. Very Thin – Pelvis, ribs and spine are sharp; Loss of muscle and no fat cover; Rump area curves in.
Your pet is likely to be underweight, seek medical advice. A change of diet and lifestyle may be required.

 

2. Thin – Pelvis, ribs and spine are easily felt; Loss of muscle and little fat cover; Rump area is flat.
Your pet is potentially underweight, a health check up is recommended. A change of diet and lifestyle may be required.

 

3. Ideal – Pelvis, ribs and spine are easily felt and rounded, not sharp; No abdominal bulge; Rump area is flat.
Your pet is the ideal body condition, regularly monitor their weight to keep them healthy.

 

4. Overweight – Firm touch needed to feel pelvis, ribs and spine; Some fat layers; Rump is rounded.
Your pet is potentially overweight. Being overweight can lead to shortened life-span, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cystitis and other health problems. Speak to your vet, a change of diet and lifestyle may be required.

 

5. Obese – Hard to feel pelvis and spine, unable to feel ribs; Tummy sags with obvious fat padding; Rump bulges out.
Your pet is likely to be obese, which can have serious medical implications. Being overweight can lead to shortened life-span, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cystitis and other health problems. Speak to your vet, you may need to follow a weight loss program and make lifestyle changes. [24]

 

If your rabbit’s not at the correct weight, you should seek advice from a vet, who will be able to rule out any health problems that could be causing the issue. They may recommend a change in diet or lifestyle. Weight loss programs should always be set out by a vet, and should be gradual as drastic weight changes can be dangerous. Maximum weight loss rate should be 1-2% a week. [26] Regularly monitor the weight/shape of your bunny to ensure that they are fit and healthy. To keep your bunny at a healthy weight ensure you are feeding them the correct diet (See Diet – What do Rabbits Eat) and that they have access to an exercise area 24/7.