Looking pretty good, eh?
So you’ve checked for a muffin top, and oops, there was one. You felt the hips along the back and, oh my, there was a lot of cushioning there. You’ve read about how much this can effect your rabbit’s health, and you are ready to do something positive to turn this situation around.
First step: where are your rabbit’s hidden calories coming from? Is anyone in your house maybe slipping Daisy some extra treats while you are out of the room? Is Flopster stealing from the dog or cat bowl?
Second step: evaluate the your rabbits diet. Is your rabbit getting TONS of fiber? Are pellets either not offered or extremely limited? What about greens? Is your rabbit able to fill up on yummy fresh LOW-SUGAR leafy greens every day? How about veggies and fruits? Veggies can be pretty high in sugars, and all fruits are. And then…the treats. Is your rabbit getting carrots, raisins, yogurt drops, papaya, dried fruits, or anything else that might be tipping the scales?
Third step: don’t go cold turkey! You want your rabbit to lose no more than 1-2% of her body weight per week. One thing that works very well is to begin substituting calories. There are good and bad calories, just like in our diets. We can cut back on pellets but increase leafy greens, herbs, flowers, and low-sugar veggies. In effect, not eating less but eating healthier.
Fourth step: consider what it means to give a treat. A treat is a reward. Other things can be a reward – playtime, games, herbs and flowers, a bit of leafy greens, any number of things can now be substituted for those high-sugar foods. Start moving to healthier choices for treating.
Fifth step: now we’ve gotten rid of all the extra sugar, and revised treats. We can begin to decrease daily calorie intake, but SLOWLY. In TINY increments.
All-along-the-process-step: increase exercise! Get your friend playing, running, climbing. Encourage it all.
Last step: give yourselves a shout-out for being so fit! Send us some pics, tell us your story. You just did some really great things to keep your rabbit as healthy and long-lived as possible. Well done, you!