According to the PDSA, a third of rabbits are overweight. Just like us humans, a combination of sedentary lifestyles and overindulgence can lead our pet pals to pile on the pounds. As a caring pet parent, you want the best for your four-legged friend. With the right approach, from rabbit food to exercise regimes, you can help your bun stay trim and live a long, happy life. Read on to find out more.

What do wild rabbits eat?

Wild rabbits spend most of their waking hours munching on vegetation. High in fibre and with a low nutrient content, wild rabbit food is low in calories and at certain times of year, especially the colder months, somewhat scarce.

So, when it’s available, both wild and pet rabbits tend to show a preference for more energy-dense options. While this behaviour serves as an important survival tactic in the wild, helping to top up energy reserves, it can increase the risk of weight gain and obesity in pets when high calorie options may be more readily available.

Why does rabbit obesity matter?

An overweight rabbit is at increased risk of a number of health issues including:

  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary problems
  • Pododermatitis (sore hocks)
  • Fly strike
  • Fractures
  • Carrying excess weight can even shorten your rabbit’s lifespan.

Top tips for a healthy weight

Being overweight can have serious health implications for our bunny friends, but from feeding the right rabbit food, to keeping your pet pal active, we’ve got you covered.

1. Recognise the signs of obesity

Identifying when your rabbit’s weight is ideal, or if they are becoming overweight is key to effective management. Learn to recognise the signs and you are halfway there.

Regular weigh-ins are good for monitoring trends but different breeds have different body shapes so tools like UK Pet Food’s Rabbit Size-O-Meter | UK Pet Food can provide more accurate insights.

Using both hands to gently feel your rabbit’s body shape, will not only help determine if your rabbit is overweight but also provide a perfect opportunity for some one-to-one bonding time.

Rabbit Nutrition Guide Body FFL

2. What’s the best diet for an overweight rabbit?

Ad lib tasty Timothy hay and a carefully measured portion of rabbit nuggets form the basis of a good rabbit diet, whether your bun is overweight or not. You should feed nuggets that are:

  • High fibre
  • No added sugar
  • Rich in natural ingredients
  • Science Selective Rabbit Food ticks all the boxes and is delicious too.

However, for very overweight rabbits, Selective Naturals Fibafirst can be a good choice. Extra-high fibre (30%) means it helps support healthy weight loss and is also an ideal diet for rabbits that do not eat enough hay.

  • Promotes digestive health
  • Encourages chewing and dental wear

Fibafirst can be fed as a daily rabbit food, a tasty topper to encourage foraging and hay intake, or as a treat to promote pet-owner bonding.


Image Credit @loki.the.bunny.lop

3. Avoid sudden changes in diet

Remember that any dietary transitions should be made slowly. This is because rabbits are hind-gut fermenters. Their caecum contains lots of ‘good’ bacteria that help break down their fibrous diet and sudden dietary changes can upset this bacterial balance. To avoid digestive upsets, a minimum of ten days should be allowed for any dietary transition.

4. Pay attention to portion control

Ad lib feeding of Timothy hay is a good thing, but ad lib feeding of rabbit nuggets is not. Plenty of chewing on tasty hay mirrors natural behaviour, provides enrichment and encourages dental wear. By contrast, nuggets take less effort and time to eat (even those that encourage chewing like Science Selective Adult Rabbit Food). While a measured portion provides your rabbit with all the essential nutrients they need, an excessively large rabbit food portion increases the risk of weight gain.

5. Feed high fibre treats in moderation…

… and avoid colourful fruit and veg like apples and carrots, as these tend to have a high sugar content.

You don’t need to abandon treats altogether though. Treats are a great way to encourage foraging behaviour, hidden in a bundle of hay for example. Or when hand fed, they can help strengthen the loving bond you share with your bun. Selective Naturals treats come in a delicious range of flavours and with no added sugary ingredients they can help support weight loss as part of a balanced bunny diet.

Selective Naturals Treats

6. Encourage your rabbit to exercise

Finally, it’s not just about rabbit food. Encourage your pal to get active. It goes without saying that they should have an enclosure with plenty of space to hop, stretch and run. The same goes for rabbits with an indoor lifestyle. While an indoor rabbit cage can be useful to keep your pet safe, it should be of an adequate size and free run of a rabbit-proof room is preferable.

Why not try scatter feeding nuggets? As well as helping increase activity levels, it also encourages natural foraging behaviour and provides enrichment.

So that’s our guide to effectively managing your rabbit’s weight. Find out more about our Science Selective tailored nutrition here.