Obesity is defined as an excessive accumulation of fat bodily injury which may be harmful to health. While cases are rare – if not nonexistent – in rabbits living inwild state, the phenomenon affects more and more our animals servants. How to spot a problem with overweight in its lagomorph? What are the causes and the consequences? How to prevent weight gain massive in his fur ball with big ears? Answers.
Signs of obesity in rabbits
Changes observed in the physical appearance and behviour rabbit may indicate a state of obesity, for example:
- The animal presents folds on the skin, even a double chin (in a male);
- Her body is disproportionate in relation to his head;
- His hair is dull and oily because it can no longer wash properly;
- He no longer eats his droppings (because he can no longer catch them);
- His hindquarters are soiled;
- He neglects his toilet, its litter is smelly;
- You don’t feel his ribs when you feel it;
- He limp.
Causes of obesity in rabbits
It exists two reasons main explanations for excessive weight in rabbits:
- Inactivity. Like any other animal, a lagomorph needs physical exercise because if it expends fewer calories than it consumes, it will inevitably gain weight. Be careful not to keep him locked up continuously and encourage him to run and playoutside from his cage. A domestic animal that lacks stimuli risk of compensating for his boredom in food, therefore, it is necessary to distract him as often as possible;
- Overeating. As a reminder, the rabbit’s staple food is hay. The trade offers many products of the type granules, flakes and other mixtures which are often found to be rich in calories. By believing to please your animal, you sometimes offer him sweets purchased from pet stores (cookies, seed sticks, etc.). However, these extras are revealed unsuitable in the lagomorph as it may cause serious health problems.
The dangers of obesity in rabbits
The rabbit has a bone structure slight which allows him to run but which also makes him susceptible to fractures in the event of a fall. Thus, an overweight on a skeleton frail increases the risk of trauma, but not only. Obesity in rabbits is indeed associated with the appearance of several diseases, among which we can mention:
- Myiasis. Obese rabbits find it difficult to clean themselves properly and leave areas soiled with feces or urine. The rectum and genitals are thus likely to attract flies which will lay their eggs in the subcutaneous tissues of the animal and, when they hatch, release toward. These maggots then feed on the flesh of the rabbit creating considerable damage, sometimes fatal;
- Pododermatitis. Being overweight places significant pressure on paws of the rabbit while its sedentary lifestyle makes their surfaces rough and impure. The phenomenon can trigger a skin disease and musculoskeletal (pododermatitis) corresponding to inflammation or ulceration from the underside of the hind legs or the underside of the limbs. The lesions are painful and manifest as depilation of the foot arch the first consequences of which generally include a lameness. Left untreated, the infection risks becoming superinfected and developing into a sepsis deadly;
- Urinary tract infection. Because of its obesity, the rabbit often remains in its litter and neglects its toilet. The situation sometimes causes the appearance of a urinary tract infection causing problems dermatological such as skin irritation or hair loss. The animal then feels constants burns in the genital areas and the urge to urinate frequently but not always succeeding. Taken in time, the inflammation is treated easily and fairly quickly;
- Gastrointestinal stasis (paralytic ileus). This disease is characterized by a slow-down of the digestive tract of the rabbit. When the intestine stops, the animal stops eating and producing feces. The bads bacteria build up and release gases in the digestive system, causing bloating very painful. Shutting down the organism can lead to the death of an animal that does not receive emergency care;
- Hepatic lipidosis. In an overweight rabbit, fat accumulates in the liver which, when saturated, stops functioning. By losing theappetite, the animal mobilizes its peripheral fats and creates a chain reaction: the – partial or complete – stop of hepatic functioning triggers a melting fatty tissue that generates ketones that poison the body. The treatment of this serious illness requires several days of hospitalization intensive care ;
- In general, obesity leads, as in human, high levels of fat and sugar in the blood (hyperglycemia, hypercholesterolemia, etc.). Their presence in excess promotes the occurrence of kidney problems or cardiovascular and weakens the immune system.
Prevention of obesity in rabbits
To maintain a rabbit at its ideal weight, it is necessary to meet the causes of his overweight by:
- A suitable diet. The best solution is to offer him a menu rich in fibers. The rabbit must hydrate well and consume a lot of hay quality, herbs and foliage, a small amount of granules (the daily ration should not exceed 2% of its weight). Ban candy bars altogether industrial and replace them with vegetables or fruits not too sweet: celery or watercress leaves, tops (radish, carrots, turnips), apples, strawberries with parsimony and once or twice a week only;
- Physical exercise. It should be borne in mind that in the wild, lagomorphs travel several kilometers per day. Ideally, a domestic rabbit should have a room for him alone or a large enclosure so as not to stay in his cage continuously. If this is not possible, be sure to leave it in freedom as soon as you are home. Through games (course, cardboard tunnel, bin filled with earth or wood chips, roll of toilet paper, balls …), encourage him to run, jump, gnaw, dig, play … Start with simple sessions and short then gradually increase their intensity. Indispensable for the health of the rabbit, physical activity is also ideal for its psychological balance.