02/07/2015

For years we have realised the importance of calcium supplementation and vitamin D in captive lizards in preventing the incidence of metabolic bone disease (MBD). We are now starting to realise the similar importance in captive rabbits too. MBD seems to be a potential cause of dental disease. Factors which influence the development of dental disease include genetics, lack of dental wear due to poor diet, and metabolic bone disease (usually from calcium and vitamin D deficiency). Once we have a rabbit with dental problems it is impossible to change the dental anatomy of that rabbit. The main thing we can alter is the diet. Try to follow the following guidelines: Provide ad-lib grass and hay of good quality to promote dental wear and of a calcium content to promote bone mineralisation (Oaten or Timothy Hays are appropriate). Feed a variety of vegetables, safe plants and herbs – many are a balanced source of calcium and are good sources of indigestible fibre. If possible allow exercise outside each day – this allows for grazing and enables the rabbit to bask in the sun. Exercise also encourages gut motility. If needed you can also feed a well-balanced concentrate food to reduce any deficiencies in the diet. A general rule is no more than 1 tablespoon of a good quality pellet fed daily (these prevent selective feeding, where the rabbit chooses low calcium cereals and legumes from the “muesli” type diets). Muesli type diets and seeds should be avoided.