Fixed-formula diets: a recipe for success
Our bunny friends are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Change can be stressful and that is especially true when it comes to their food. With a highly specialised digestive system, fine-tuned for getting the most out of a fibre-rich diet a bit of TLC is needed for it to stay in full working order. So how can you do your best for your bun? Well….. keep things simple and avoid sudden dietary change for starters, and of course feed a high fibre diet packed full of delicious natural ingredients. Feeding your pet pal a fixed-formula food is also a great idea but what does this mean? Read on to find out all you need to know and more!
Dietary change…yes or no?
Sudden changes in diet can upset the delicate bunny digestive system. Of course, this does not mean that dietary change is a ‘no’, just that changes need to be slow to allow the digestive system sufficient time to adjust. Perhaps your bun has started turning their nose up at their daily portion and after the vet gives a clean bill of health, you would like to change their food to tempt their tastebuds. Or maybe your rabbit has reached their senior years and it is time to switch to Science Selective Four+ Rabbit Food. Either way, it is best to allow a minimum of ten days for any dietary transition; on day one, a maximum of 20 percent of the food portion should be the new diet, slowly building up to 80 percent by days seven and eight, with 100 percent of the portion being the new food by day ten.
For more information on safe dietary transitions, read our blog here.
So where do fixed-formula diets come into this? Well, if you make the decision to change your pet’s food, you can make the switch in a carefully controlled manner. But what about a situation beyond your control, say if your usual food is no longer available, or the recipe suddenly changes? This may be for a whole host of reasons. Availability of raw ingredients can be a challenge, with well-documented supply chain delays in recent times, or even something as simple as inclement weather affecting on-farm crop production.
In these challenging financial times, most of us are feeling the pinch. When it comes to small pet food, tweaking recipes and substituting ingredients could help keep costs down. However, not only can cheaper ingredients mean food is less palatable to discerning pet palates, but changes in formulation can have a negative impact on delicate herbivore digestive systems.
Supreme has always stood by a fixed-formula ethos and our recipes will never be changed, unless a particular raw material is no longer available. Sourcing ingredients locally wherever possible helps to reduce the impact of supply chain issues, as well as having environmental benefits too.
You may wonder why rabbits are such sensitive souls when it comes to dietary change. Well… they are what is known as hind-gut fermenters. This means they have a huge organ called the caecum that contains lots of ‘good’ bacteria to help break down tough, fibrous plant material. These friendly bacteria, critical for healthy digestion, are carefully balanced and any sudden changes in the diet can upset this.
Gastro-intestinal stasis: a veterinary emergency
Gastro-intestinal (GI) stasis is one of the most serious consequences of digestive upset in our bunny pals. In this life-threatening condition, gut contractions slow down or stop altogether, and the normal healthy gut flora becomes unbalanced.
Signs of GI stasis
- Reduced appetite
- Reduction in number or absence of poo pellets
- Hunched appearance due to pain
- Bloated abdomen
If your bun is showing any of these signs, you should seek veterinary attention without delay.
The digestive system of young rabbits is particularly sensitive and sudden changes in diet should be avoided. Moving to a new home is a particularly stressful time so extra care needs to be taken. Amid the excitement of welcoming a new bunny friend into your life, remember to introduce any dietary changes gradually.
Using fixed-formula diets such as Science Selective Junior Rabbit Food which is tailored to meet the unique needs of young growing animals, helps to ensure that the settling in period is as stress-free as possible for rabbits and owners alike.
Now you know about the importance of fixed-formula food, why not have a read of our great blog on How much to feed my rabbit.