Vet survey reveals top rabbit health issues


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The three most common rabbit health issues are dental disease, gastrointestinal stasis and obesity, Supreme Petfoods’ recent survey of UK veterinary surgeons has revealed. These conditions are intrinsically linked to the feeding of poor-quality diets and despite substantial improvements in nutritional knowledge among rabbit owners, 57 percent of rabbits are still being fed inappropriately.

Dental disease was seen most frequently, with 75 percent of vets reporting that they see affected rabbits regularly. Dental and other diet-related conditions occur partly because owners do not understand their pets’ dietary requirements, in particular the importance of high fibre nutrition with no added sugar. Nearly 90 percent of vets said that rabbits often received inadequate quantities of hay, and the survey also revealed that feeding poor-quality concentrate foods, with low fibre and added sugary ingredients, is commonplace.

Claire Hamblion, Supreme’s Marketing Director, explains that educating customers is crucial, saying: “Owners want to do the right thing, but all too often lack of awareness about nutrition leads to poor health and wellbeing. The great news is that progress is being made. 79 percent of vets say that nutritional knowledge among rabbit owners has significantly improved in the last ten years, which is in part due to the invaluable expertise shared by pet retailers. We’re keen to build on this and are proud to offer not just high-quality species-specific nutrition but a range of educational materials and free samples to help retailers engage with their rabbit-owning customers”.

A high-quality, species-appropriate diet should include unlimited hay, a carefully measured portion of high fibre nuggets every morning and evening and a handful of fresh leafy greens. Recommended by over 90 percent of vets in the survey, Supreme’s Science Selective rabbit lifestage diets are high in fibre, and rich in natural ingredients with no added sugar. When fed alongside unlimited hay, Science Selective supports dental and digestive health and the maintenance of a healthy weight and helps to reduce the risk of diet-related disease.

The survey also revealed that for rabbits requiring critical care nutrition, Supreme’s Science Selective Recovery Plus, is the number one choice among vets for syringe feeding. With a high crude fibre content (25%) to support digestive health, Recovery Plus has added vitamin C and is rich in natural forage and herbs to stimulate appetite.

Supreme provides a selection of educational materials, from care guides to educational blogs and free food samples, to support retailers in communicating with customers. With highly palatable diets like Science Selective, free samples prove particularly effective in starting rabbits on a lifelong journey of optimum nutrition and are an excellent tool for starting nutrition conversations. Supreme is committed to working with retailers as well as veterinary teams to improve owners’ knowledge around rabbit nutrition, helping rabbits to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

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