BSAVA endorses Rabbit Awareness Week campaign to ‘move away from muesli’

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) is encouraging practices to focus on the welfare of rabbits by taking part in Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) on June 2-10.

Vet practices can inspire owners to pledge to ‘move away from muesli’ towards a high quality, hay-based diet, and host a range of activities to mark the annual event.

The Association is endorsing RAW and has produced helpful resources for members to make the most of the week – including a PR toolkit to gain valuable local media coverage, a host of ideas and links to relevant RAW campaign information supporting rabbit medicine and welfare, available here.

Inappropriate diet has been consistently cited as the top welfare issue to be addressed for rabbits in the annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report. Peer-reviewed research, published by the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated that rabbits fed on muesli diets will often selectively feed, eating the high starch and sugar pieces in the muesli mix and leaving the more fibrous pieces, which can increase the risk of serious health issues.

Selective feeding increases the risk of dental disease, obesity, reduced faecal output potentially leading to gut stasis, and uneaten caecotrophs potentially leading to flystrike. All of these conditions are extremely damaging to rabbits’ health and welfare and can be fatal.

The 2017 PDSA PAW Report shows that 25% of owners still feed muesli as part of their rabbit’s main diet equating to 280,000 rabbits being fed a harmful diet.

BSAVA President Phil Lhermette said: “Rabbit Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity for practices to promote rabbit welfare and ensure owners pledge to ‘move away from muesli’, leaving with the right information to support the specific needs of their rabbits.”

Practices can also find ideas, information and social media suggestions at the official RAW website: www.rabbitawarenessweek.co.uk

The BSAVA have also produced a rabbit collection in the BSAVA Library that can be accessed here