DISEASE IN RABBITS With one of the most amazingly efficient digestive systems of all the herbivores, rabbits have a gut customized for a life of eating rough grasses with very little fat or protein. However, the flip-side to their efficient gut is intolerance to concentrated foods high in carbohydrates and fats such as grains, nuts and oil seeds. To make matters more complicated, rabbits are concentrate selectors and will actively choose to eat rich foods over high-fibre diets, if given the choice. These bad choices by the rabbit, combined with bad diets provided by owners, can lead directly to MBD.
MBD Classic MBD - front incisor teeth over grown and unnaturally curving almost to represent a “beak”. Solid masses of bone and fibrous deposits are condensed around the back molars. These abnormalities are painful and lead to difficulty eating, along with development of abscesses and the blocking of tear ducts, giving the impression the Rabbit is “crying”.
WHAT IS METABOLIC BONE DISEASE (MBD)? MBD is a disease that affects a staggering percentage of the pet rabbit population in Australia and all over the world. MBD is not contagious, and is only caused when a rabbit is provided an incorrect or poor diet, and to a lesser extent, incorrect husbandry. MBD can go undetected for some time without the owner knowing their rabbit is ill. It is only as the disease progresses to later stages that symptoms begin to show. Symptoms can include teary eyes, dribbling, difficulty chewing, overgrown teeth, obesity, jaw abscesses and even fusing/fracturing of the spine. it can be extremely painful and debilitating for the animal, so it is essential to know how to prevent it - and luckily prevention is simple.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT MBD is 100% preventable, we simply need to provide the correct diet for our furry friends. High fibre grass hay (such as Vetafarm Fibre Rich Fescue Hay) is the cornerstone of a Rabbit’s diet, supplemented with a small amount of Vetafarm Origins Rabbit Pellets and dark green vegetables. Avoid grain/muesli/chaff mixes - or any diet that is high in carbohydrates or fats. Feeding Vetafarm’s veterinary formulated pellets in addition to high-fibre hay and vegetables and regular out-of-enclosure exercise will eliminate the risk of MBD!