One way of assuring a quality pellet is to choose one that is
manufactured nationally. These are typically manufactured with identical ingredients in
identical portions throughout the year, tested on enough rabbits for the results to be
statistically significant, and they are quality controlled. Pellets from grocery and pet
stores tend to spend long periods on warehouse shelves where they become stale. Pellets
produced locally may contain high levels of calcium or have other imbalances and may not
be produced with sufficient quality control to guarantee the same product between
purchases. Approach these brands with caution. Rabbit pellets should contain 16-20% crude
fiber and 14-16% protein. Rabbits up to eight months of age can have access to pellets and
alfalfa free choice. However, after eight months, house rabbits should receive a
maintenance ratio of pellets to body weight as follows:

  • 1/8 cup daily 2-4 lb ideal body weight
  • 1/4 cup daily 5-7 lb ideal body weight
  • 1/2 cup daily 8-10 lb ideal body weight
  • 3/4 cup daily 11-15 lb ideal body weight

Do not refill your rabbit’s bowl even if the pellets are all eaten
before the next day. Pellets should make up less of your rabbit’s diet as h/she grows
older. However, underweight rabbits and older, frail rabbits need unrestricted pellets to
keep their weight up

If you change the brand of pellets you feed your rabbit, begin
with what the rabbit has been eating and mix a small amount of the new pellet into it.
Gradually increase the ratio of the new pellet until the rabbit is eating only the new
pellets. This procedure will help avoid intestinal upsets due to the change in pellets or
prevent the rabbit’s refusing to eat. Do not refill your rabbit’s bowl with fresh pellets
on top of old. Gourmet type pellets which contain dried fruits, nuts, and vegetables have
been suspected of causing fatty liver and kidney disease (Washington House Rabbit
). Never feed your rabbit a pellet which has antibiotics added to it. Should
your rabbit ever become ill, you may find your rabbit has become de-sensitized to the
antibiotics which could save his/her life. Moldy, bug infested, stale, old, or
“off-smelling” pellets should be discarded immediately.

Overfeeding of pellets is the cause of many health problems in
rabbits. An overweight rabbit is probably more in need of exercise that in having his/her
food limited. Should your rabbit need to lose weight or develop an intolerance to pellets
(symptoms include excessive cecal pellets or chronic diarrhea), please contact the House
Rabbit Resource Network for a copy of a special diet for your rabbit.

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