When you think of The DogSmith you think of dogs, right? Yes DogSmiths are Professional Certified Professional Dog Trainers and Behavior Analysts. But we are also Certified Pet Care providers. DogSmiths clients include canines, felines, equines and a variety of smaller pets. Among the smaller pets we are regularly asked to look after are rabbits.
Rabbits are a popular choice of pet for children. They are small, can be hand tame if socialized well, come in a variety of breeds and live for up to 17 years. As with any animal member of our family, caring properly for a pet rabbit is very important. If you have a rabbit or are thinking of bringing a rabbit into your home then plan accordingly so you can care for your pet rabbit correctly.
Rabbits need safe housing. They need to be in a secure and well ventilated cage. If kept indoors you must provide for outside play in a good enclosure. Rabbits living outside are very vulnerable to predators. Raccoons, coyotes and other animals will prey on your pet rabbit. Outdoor hutches must take into consideration the weather in your location. The flooring should be made of a material that a rabbit cannot dig through as an adventurous rabbit will soon escape and be hopping around your neighborhood. Your rabbit will also need a litter box.
When handling your rabbit be very careful. Rabbits are more fragile than they look. If dropped you can break their bones. To lift a rabbit correctly you must support their body. Most rabbits will struggle when their feet leave the ground so use your hand under the rabbit’s chest while supporting their back end with your other hand. Hold the rabbit against your body so there is no danger of dropping it. A rabbit can become conditioned to enjoy being picked up and stroked if you approach this in the right way.
Rabbits need a special diet. Each day you must provide grass for them. Veterinarians recommend either Timothy or Bermuda. Other grass options can be detrimental to their health. Rabbits also need a daily ration of greens. Bethany Jordan, DogSmith Florida Panhandle and Alabama, recommends a “Bunny Salad” (recipe below). Don’t feed your rabbit any sugar or too much fruit. Too much sugar can affect their gut flora. Rabbits also need ½ cup of Timothy pellets each day and a bowl of fresh clean water to drink. Water must be available to your rabbit at all times.
The DogSmith “Beth’s Bunny Salad” - Bethany Jordan advises mixing these so the rabbit does not get too much of any one ingredient:
- Fresh organic greens
- Fruit ( apples, pears, or strawberries)
- Sweet potato
- Random leftover veggies
We asked Bethany for her advice on the most important things to remember when caring for a rabbit. Here is what she said:
- Rabbits have the same GI as horses so any change in diet should be gradual.
- Rabbits need hard objects to chew as they have to file their teeth, wood is a good option.
- Rabbits are VERY sensitive to heat stroke so their accommodations should be made to keep them cool during hot summer months.
- Never house your Rabbit with guinea pigs as they can pass infectious diseases.
- Rabbits are prone to bladder stones so they should not eat alfalfa or greens that contain a lot of calcium.
- Greens that contain a high moisture content such as lettuce and cucumber should be given in moderation as may cause diarrhea.
- Rabbits are very active animals and are much happier with a life full of enrichment so give them toys, boxes to climb on or in and if you are committed you can train them to do fun things.
- A Rabbit’s teeth and nails require trimming as they are continually growing.
- If you have a male and a female rabbit then spay or neuter your pets to prevent unwanted bunnies.
So the next time you are considering a vacation and need a pet care provider, call a DogSmith Certified Pet Care provider. We will hop right over and take care of your critters, big and small.