Now that your little bun has become old enough to get a senior discount at the hay buffet, it is time to understand what you should expect to happen as they ages.
Your bouncing rabbit becomes an elder bun at the age of 6 years old. Just like when your rabbit was a baby bunny, adjusting their diet and figuring out what they can and can’t digest properly is crucial. They may also become picky all over again! Here are a few things about their diet, specifically about first or second cut hay for rabbits that you need to be aware of.
Be aware that your senior bun most likely won’t eat as much. Senior rabbits tend to eat less and sleep more, so how do you accommodate their lack of appetite knowing that they need to be eating several times a day?
If they begin to have weight loss issues and can’t maintain their weight, you can increase the amount of pellets they have. But, you must feed them a good quality pellet preferably filled with a mix of Timothy Hay, vegetables and fruit. Not a pellet that is filled with sugar, cereals, and/or other ingredients that aren’t healthy for your rabbit. Alfalfa Hay can also be given to underweight rabbits in order for them to gain weight, but only if their calcium levels are normal. To determine their calcium levels and other components of their blood it’s recommended that they receive annual blood workups (see our Vet section below!).
While increasing their pellet intake or adding a little extra Alfalfa Hay to balance out their weight, neither should be the majority of their diet. Their diet should mainly consist of Coarse (typically known as First) or Medium (typically known as Second) Timothy Hay. Coarse Timothy Hay typically has more fiber than Medium Timothy Hay whereas Medium has higher protein content than Coarse. So choosing which cut your rabbit should eat depends on their individual dietary needs. Both these cuts of Timothy Hay are on the coarse side for texture which is great for ensuring your bun's teeth stay in good dental health.
Does your senior rabbit prefer a softer hay? You can also give them our Soft Timothy Hay (typically known as Third) as it holds all the same nutrients needed to keep their digestion system working properly. Since the hay is soft, it lacks the needed coarseness to keep their teeth in good dental health so make sure you add something like Apple Sticks to their routine.
Allergic to Timothy Hay? You can give your rabbit Coarse Orchard Grass or Soft Orchard Grass. Just remember that if you give them Soft Orchard Grass to give them something like Apple Sticks to chew on to keep their teeth in good dental health.
Pay attention to their stool to make sure that they are digesting their food properly to prevent poopy butt. Having poopy butt increase the likelihood of fly strike which is fatal to all bunnies. If your bunny is in cooler temperatures, then they will need to consume more of their food for more calories to keep up their weight which will help to keep their body temperature up!
Aside from feeding your rabbit Coarse or Medium Timothy Hay, it is important to know that they need to have access to cool, fresh water all day. You can give them water in a water bottle attached to their hutch/cage or in a water bowl that sits inside their hutch/cage. Just like how your senior bun is picky in what they eat, they can also be picky about how they want to consume their water. If they are used to drinking water out of a bottle they may decide they now like to drink water out of a bowl, or vise versa. Giving them both options is the best way to ensure that your senior bun doesn't get dehydrated.
Aside from feeding her first or second cut hay for rabbits, tt is important to know that she needs to have access to cool, fresh water all day. So it is important to give water to your bunny in a bottle and in a dish. Elderbuns are not only picky about what they consume but also how they consume it. So if your rabbit used to drink water out of a bottle, she may decide she now likes to drink out of bowl. So giving her both options is best to make sure your little bun doesn’t get dehydrated.
Senior bunnies should be seen by a vet at least once a year. This is when your vet can check their teeth to make sure they don’t need to be clipped, along with testing blood to make sure that they are getting the right amount of protein, vitamins and more from food to keep them healthy. Your vet can also help you decide which changes in their diet will be best to keep their weight up. Don’t know how old your rabbit is? Your vet can also help you with that!
Please make sure that you pay attention to the needs of your senior bunny to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.