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Pellets' Place in the Mature Rabbit's Diet |
MARINELL HARRIMAN IN CONSULTATION WITH CAROLYN HARVEY, DVM
We try to keep our animal companions alive and well as long as possible. Our dogs and cats are switched to "senior" or "maintenance" diets as they mature. In a search for the same options in rabbit pellets, we contacted some large and small pellet manufacturers around the country to ask about their best non-breeding "maintenance" diet.
Nutritional requirements are more than adequately met in all of the pellets listed. Two things, however, are of great concern to people who have elderly rabbits--calories and calcium.
Most of us are calorie conscious and try to prevent obesity in our rabbits. We avoid feeds with fatty treats, yet few of us realize that prolonged excess calcium and vitamin-D is risking damage to our rabbits' kidneys. To reduce calcium intake to the recommended .6% level, we're forced to do some mathematical calculations and limit currently available pellets to a much smaller portion of the diet. We then need to add a larger portion of lower calcium foods so that the total daily intake averages .6%.
It would be easier if true "senior" rabbit pellets were available--with consistently low calcium as well as reduced protein and calories. This special pellet doesn't exist yet because the feed manufacturers are unsure of this market. It's up to us to let them know that there are many of us--who welcome rabbits into our homes and who plan to keep them there for a long, long time.
maintenance pellet products (alphabetical)
The table below compares National Research Council (NRC) guidelines with several pellet products. The manufac-turers listed have cooperated in supplying information-- not to be viewed as advertising or HRS endorsement in any way.
Ingredients may vary by region.
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