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Just like any other cat, dog, or pet, rabbits need to be treated with plenty of love, care, and attention. It is important as pet owners to be aware of their needs and how to go about fulfilling them, so here’s a guide for first-time rabbit owners on how you should be caring for them to ensure their health and happiness!
Litter box set-up
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Contrary to cats and dogs, rabbits spend a significant amount of their time in their litter boxes, so it is imperative that they are comfortable with their litter boxes. It is best to purchase a litter box that isn’t too small or it might feel cramped, and we recommend avoiding those with metal grills which are likely to be painful for them to stand on.
It is also important to choose the best and safest litter option for your bunny. Selecting recyclable paper-based litter would be the best option as it is absorbent, odour-free, environmentally-friendly, and with the least potential health dangers.
On the other hand, softwood shavings such as pine and cedar are not as advisable as they may cause respiratory issues and liver damage to small animals, while clumping litter, corn cob litter, and clay litter may potentially cause internal blockage in the digestive system and endanger their lives.
Food and diet
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Rabbits do not have the same dietary requirements as most other domesticated animals, so we need to be aware of what they can and cannot eat. A healthy diet for rabbits typically constitutes a high percentage of hay, which provides sufficient fibre to keep their gastrointestinal system well and functioning. Leafy vegetables as well as fresh herbs such as parsley and basil can also provide additional nutrients for your rabbits, which can spice up their diet.
However, root vegetables, such as carrots should be given in small quantities as these are merely treats for them and hence should be consumed in moderation. Rabbits should also never be fed:
- Fruit seeds and pits
- Allium-type vegetables
- Iceberg lettuce (a large portion of iceberg lettuce could cause diarrhoea and physical weakness)
- Sugary, high-carbs foods.
Dental and health check-ups
As part of having a sound preventive care regimen for your pet, vets in Singapore and all over the world will tell you that regular health check-ups are a must to keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible.
Once you’ve met your new furry friend, it will require a health examination as soon as possible regardless of whether it has been guaranteed to be up-to-date with its vaccinations. It will also require regular health and dental check-ups at the vet for the rest of its life, typically once a year!
This is to check on your pet’s general health, detect congenital defects, test for skin, ear, and intestinal parasites, as well as to make sure that it is developing properly. Early detection of conditions always provide a lot more benefits than diagnosing a late-stage disease:
- There will be more treatment and managements options available
- It slows down the progression of the disease
- It enables your pet to enjoy more years of good quality life
- It’s cost-saving in the long term.
Interaction and playtime
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Just like cats, dogs, and humans, rabbits also require physical and mental stimulation to stay active and healthy while eliminating boredom and reducing the risk of obesity. As rabbits are adapted to burrow and weave through tunnels, incorporating an obstacle course in their pen is a good way for them to practise and exercise at the same time. These obstacle courses can be easily built out of cardboard and toilet rolls, or can also be purchased from your nearby pet stores.
In addition, rabbits have the tendency to gnaw and chew as a form of trimming their teeth (which grows constantly) and maintaining their dental health. Purchasing chew toys for them can help them to relive their need to chew without destroying their food bowls or any nearby furniture.
Needless to say, beyond fulfilling their basic needs, it is also important to shower them with your love and affection and be a responsible and dedicated pet owner. Your pet may be just a part of your world, but to your pet, you are the world! Through your care, your rabbit will definitely be able to enjoy the best quality of life possible.