Putting Weight on Skinny Bunnies

Most of us have the problem of keeping our bunnies from getting overweight – which can be deadly. Most of the time, this means nothing more than limiting treats and pellets.

However, some of us have the more difficult problem of putting weight on our rabbits. Often, skinniness is the result of illness, where the just-recovering rabbit may not be as interested in food as we would like them to be.

There are several things you can do to help your skinny bunny gain weight:

  • Give high-fat and high-carbohydrate treats, but remember to limit these appropriately or they can be deadly
  • Provide small portions of alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets for short periods of time. (Remember when given long term, the high protein in these can be hard on the kidneys.)
  • Free-feed timothy pellets, so the rabbit can eat anytime during the day the mood strikes
  • Talk with your veterinarian about whether a medication such as Reglan would be appropriate to help increase your bunny’s appetite
  • Also discuss your veterinarian whether Oxbow’s Critical Care might help. (Note: there is a new Critical Care that is apple and banana flavored which rabbits tend to like much more than the original.)
  • Give your rabbit as much “Angel’s Mush” as he will eat

Angel’s Mush? What’s that?

Some years ago, a bunny named Angel came to us. She had maloccluded incisors which we had surgically removed. But she had no other teeth at all (!) except for an upper molar on one side of her mouth, and a lower molar on the other side. In other words, this rabbit could not eat hay, pellets, or vegetables. She needed a mush that would be nutritionally complete.

We started with a high-fiber pellet (Oxbow’s Bunny Basics-T). But she needed more calories as well as the vitamins and minerals from vegetables. Eventually, we ended up with a mush that satisfied us – and her! She lived a long life on this mush.

Following is our recipe:

Angel’s Mush

Mix together:
4 cups timothy pellets (i.e., high-fiber)
1 cup of either oat or barley flour

5 cups water and let stand an hour or so until the pellets have dissolved.

Add to the above mixture:
1 8-oz. can vanilla Ensure or Deliver 2.0 (or its equivalent)
1 12-oz. can V-8 juice
1 28-oz. or 32-oz. can pumpkin (not pie mix!)

Mix together. Store small amounts in baggies and freeze until needed. Additional water may be added. We keep it fairly dry for bunns eating it on their own and fairly soft for syringe feeding.