There are 5 keys to getting your baby rabbit to gain some weight if they’re looking a little frail and shabby. We will be discussing it all to you in the best way that we can.
If you are an owner of an underweight rabbit, you may want to learn about the different ways on how to increase the weight of your bunny.
Being underweight can be a root cause of more complicated health problems for your pet rabbit. Rabbits generally have a good operation of their digestive system.
With fresh vegetables, hay, grass, and protection from extreme weather conditions, you can make your rabbit gain some much-needed muscle and fat.
Make sure that you monitor the weight of your pet rabbit. Observe how they receive food that is given to them. If they exhibit unusual behavior towards their food, then there is definitely something wrong.
Measuring your rabbit’s weight
There are two important reasons why you should regularly track the weight of your pet rabbit:
- To monitor the status of their weight gain
- To observe patterns of weight loss and alleviate before it complicates
Regular kitchen weighing scales can be used to weigh your pet rabbit. They are affordable and simple to use. You can simply put the rabbit in the weighing pan. If they do not keep still long enough for you to be able to get a good reading, you can try this technique:
- Put the rabbit carrier on the scale first.
- Take note of the weight of the carrier.
- Put the rabbit in and note the resulting combined weight.
If the weighing scale you have does not have a setting where you can set the weight of one object, you can simply subtract the weight of the carrier from the combined weight of when the rabbit was put in to get the rabbit’s weight.
Why you rabbit needs to gain weight
Prior to starting the weight gain program, you have to assess the problem first and identify the root cause as to why your rabbit is underweight in the first place. You cannot provide an effective regimen if you do not know the cause and formulate a solution based on that.
You cannot form a diagnosis all by yourself so it’s best to consult with a medical professional. The following are some of the possible grounds for rabbits to undergo a weight gain regimen.
Illness. When rabbits become ill, they lose their appetite regardless of the nature of their sickness. The common ailments that rabbits experience are cancer, arthritis, liver problems, and respiratory infections to name a few. If your pet rabbit was sick for quite a while, you have to build back their appetite to replenish the energy that they lost.
Rescue rabbits. There are rabbits that have been recently rescued from dangerous circumstances. The stress and trauma from their experiences can take a toll on their appetite. There may be times when the rabbits have not been fed for a dangerously long time so they look noticeably frail and need to gain some weight.
Dental problems. Rabbits also tend to avoid eating or taking anything by mouth if they have oral or dental problems.
Stress. Constant exposure to stressful situations can make your rabbit lose appetite. Incidents like drastic weather changes can affect your rabbit’s digestion and metabolism.
Parasites. Your rabbit may be infested with parasites that receive all the nutrition given to the rabbit. You have to ensure that they are free from parasitic infections so they benefit directly from the nutrition that is provided for them.
Age. As rabbits grow older, their appetite decreases as well. They become more susceptible to infections and their immune system depletes. At this stage, you have to increase their nutritional intake to keep their energy at a normal level and keep their systems functioning smoothly.
Increasing the weight of your pet rabbit
The first thing that you need to do is take your pet rabbit to the vet for a consultation and examination for you to know the reason why they are underweight. By doing that, you will know a good treatment plan for the underlying problem and build a diet regimen plan from there. However, if you are unable to go to the vet and want to do home remedies for weight gain instead, you can follow these simple strategies.
The first-line management is to increase calorie intake. Their diet should be composed of more fiber as well to help in the regulation of their digestive system. Make sure that when you modify their regular meal, you increase the amount of high calorie-containing foods.
Below are some recommended foods for your pet rabbit.
Hay and grass
These two are the best starting points if you want to modify your rabbit’s diet because these are already parts of their regular meals. Perhaps you just have to increase the amount that you give them every meal. Hay provides high protein and fat. Barn-dried grass also has a high calorie content for added energy. You can purchase these online. Give these to your pet rabbit daily.
The dry kinds of food are the easiest to digest so it’s alright to give them in large amounts. These are effective for those who want to build muscle and fat volume because dry foods are rich in calories.
You can make a mixture of fiber-rich and protein pellets for young rabbits. High protein and calories help in fighting against infections that decrease weight.
Fresh foods are an important part of the regular diet of your rabbit so you should always include it. You can give fresh carrots, apples, parsnip, sweet pepper, and others. Fruits contain more calories and energy than green leafy vegetables. Giving your pet rabbits a good amount of fruits can also help increase daily calorie intake.
Oats are also good food to eat when trying to gain weight. You can make porridge and rolled oats. You can buy oats from Amazon and add a small amount of it to your rabbit’s regular meals.
If the rabbit is eating well but is struggling to put on weight, you can give treats. You can buy this from local pet stores. You can also make homemade treats by cutting up fruits and vegetables in small sizes. Just remember not to give them too much sugary fruits.
Cereals or supplements
Cereals contain a lot of fiber and a small addition of supplements added into it can be a good strategy for your rabbit to gain some muscle and fat into their tissues.
You may think that exercising will make you lose weight. On the contrary, it also helps in building muscle mass. When you monitor the rabbit’s locomotor movement, you can also track the calories they are able to burn at a time.
Lack of exercise can increase risk of stress and depression due to the reduced secretion of hormones. These hormones can contribute to appetite regulation and help build good eating habits.
Cautions to take
Diet changes should be taken with caution. It should be done gradually and not abruptly to give the rabbit time to adjust to the new changes in meal plans.
A slow but steady weight gain process is healthier and safer compared to a drastic one. Underweight rabbits have less muscle mass. Building muscle is the most efficient and healthier way to gain weight instead of just accumulating fat.
To build muscle, the diet regimen should be constant everyday and builds up over time along with regular exercise.
Checking if the rabbit is gaining weight or not
Experienced pet owners already know their pets by heart that they are able to distinguish any changes in their behavior or physical appearance. That means they are also able to know whether or not their pet is gaining weight or not.
However, new pet owners may not have developed this skill yet. So here are a few guidelines or checklist to see if your rabbit is losing weight:
- Dull and rough coat
- Frail appearance of the pelvis, ribs, and backbone
- The abdomen is caved in, thighs and spin are in a triangular shape
- Unusual movements and locomotor activity
- Irregular shape and small-sized fecal products
- Strange way of asking for water and food
- Unable to stretch their limbs
- Lack of movement
- Grinding of teeth
- Eyes are not fully open
- Frequently drops their food
Malnourishment at their early stages of life can be cause for baby rabbits to become underweight.
In the case of adult rabbits, there are a lot of factors that may be involved in their being underweight. Their lack of physical activity or arthritic pain are leading causes of weight loss. It’s a lot harder to get adult rabbits to gain weight because you have to increase their muscle mass, which poses a difficulty due to their already developed skeletal structure.
You also have to determine the kinds of food that increase or decrease their weight.
Weight gain tips for your pet rabbit
For a sick or injured rabbit, home remedy for weight gain can be done as advised by a veterinarian. The first thing to do is to determine what causes the rabbit stress and take that out of the equation. A balanced meal plan consisting of essential nutrients and minerals can regulate the metabolism of your pet rabbit back to normal.
How much weight should my pet rabbit gain?
Every rabbit has a different weight requirement so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that. Some rabbits take a few weeks or more to gain noticeable weight. Even if the rabbits are of similar breed, there are still variations in their weight.
Normally, rabbits should weigh between 1.94 kg to 2.45 kg. You can feel the spine, ribs, hips, and other bones. There is also a presence of a smooth curve from the neck down to the tail and at the hips. Maintenance of a healthy weight is essential to have a strong immune system for prevention against diseases.
Dietary adjustments and regular exercise also contribute to gaining weight. The tips we mentioned above should be followed strictly to ensure that your pet rabbit builds weight.
What to do if the rabbit refuses to eat food
Rabbits normally lose their appetite if they are sick. This is frustrating for pet owners but the common remedy is using a syringe to introduce the food to the rabbit. You have to be patient and gentle otherwise it will only cause more stress to your pet rabbit and further decrease the chances of them wanting to eat.
Syringes can be bought at local pharmacies and they also come in various sizes. When you are feeding them pelleted food, you have to grind it up to fine pieces and dissolve or mix it in water to administer it through the syringe. You can feed them three times a day.
When you notice that your pet rabbit regains their appetite, you can start introducing timothy hay into their diet. This will further hasten the gaining of their strength and appetite again. If this still fails, you have to consult with a vet doctor.
Are peanuts poisonous to rabbits?
Any kind of peanut derivatives are not advisable to be fed to rabbits. It can cause obesity. Even though your goal is to increase their weight, you should not do so drastically.
What to do when the rabbit is immobile
There are a number of reasons why a rabbit may become immobile. But the most common and the most serious cause is spine problems. Rabbits generally have fragile skeletal structures. Any sudden movement or loud sound can startle them and cause them to break their bones. Lethargy, kidney failure, and fever can also be reasons why your rabbit is physically inactive.
Weight loss in older rabbits
As rabbits reach old age, they may start to gain or lose weight more. The common reasons are as follows:
- Less physical activity due to vision problems or decreased physical strength
- Gradual loss of appetite due to lack of exercise
- More susceptible to diseases and infections
- Oral or dental health problems
It is natural for the muscle mass of rabbits to deteriorate as they age. It is inevitable so this should not bother you.