In the wild, rabbits and other small animals would spend a lot of their time foraging, but our much-loved pets have a more readily available supply of food. Feeding a diet that mimics natural nutrition as closely as possible is key to avoiding health problems such as weight gain, obesity and boredom. There is no better way to do this than by feeding a diet that is rich in natural ingredients.
You are what you eat: natural ingredients for optimum health
Knowing what to look out for on pet food labels is really useful when it comes to selecting the best food for your four-legged friend. Read on to find out all you need to know about naturally nutritious dietary ingredients.
- Linseed: a natural source of omega 3 and 6
Linseed is a fantastic natural source of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs have a wealth of beneficial effects for our four-legged friends, with healthy skin and a glossy coat top of that list. To find out more, why not have a read of Why is Omega 6 and 3 important in foods for rabbits and other small pets?
- Timothy Hay: a natural source of fibre
High quality feeding hay harvested fresh from the fields is a great natural source of fibre. Packed full of goodness, hay should make up the majority of small herbivore diets. With a low calorie content compared to volume, excess weight gain is not a concern and plenty of fibre will help keep herbivore digestive systems and teeth in top working order.
- Naturally delicious flavour
Who needs artificial flavouring when there are naturally tasty ingredients on offer? How about herbs to tempt those herbivore taste buds? From fennel and parsley to basil and mint, there’s something for every palate, with no E numbers in sight.
- Natural anti-oxidants
With proven health benefits, including reducing inflammation, anti-oxidants promote vitality. There are lots of great natural sources of anti-oxidants, including blackcurrant, broccoli, and spinach to name a few.
Delicious to eat but also a fantastic source of vitamins, fruit and veg are super important ingredients in rabbit and small pet diets. Look out for a range of naturally tasty ingredients such as apple and blackcurrant or peas and carrot.
Environmental enrichment and a natural diet
Environmental enrichment is key to keeping our pets happy and healthy. It helps to keep pets entertained and allows them to express their naturally inquisitive natures. Feeding a diet full of natural goodness is all part of providing enrichment. Why not try:
- Filling cardboard tubes with hay and a couple of healthy treats to encourage foraging
- Hanging a small portion of carrot in your small pet’s living quarters to promote gnawing
- Small pets love to chew – offer small sticks of pet-safe wood such as apple or pear, great for chinchillas and degus
- Wrap your pet’s favourite veggie snack in brown paper for some fun treat time foraging
What about traceability?
Choosing food with traceability from the farmer’s field right to our small pet’s bowl is so important. After all we humans are placing more focus on what we put on our plates in this regard so why should we feel any differently about our small pets’ diets? Diets that are rich in natural ingredients make traceability a much more straightforward process.
Looking for more nutrition advice? Why not take a look at The rabbit digestive system – how does it work?.