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Recognizing and Treating Obesity in Rabbits

July 15, 2014
Rabbits, much like other common pets, are at risk for obesity. Since obesity quickly leads to other serious health concerns, it’s important you recognize and treat the disease promptly! Learn more below from your Des Moines veterinary professional.

Causes of Obesity

As you might expect, the leading cause of obesity amongst rabbits is too little exercise and too much food. Caged rabbits who spend most of their time in an enclosed structure are especially prone to the disease. There are, however, other conditions that could make your rabbit appear obese without actually having the disorder. These include tumors or fluids in the abdominal area. For this reason, make an appointment with your vet as soon as you suspect your rabbit may weigh too much.

Symptoms and Signals

The obvious symptom of obesity is a visible weight gain, but rabbits who are over their weight limits will probably also appear weak and display some difficulty breathing. Many obese rabbits also have poorly-groomed coats, since they have trouble twisting and moving to groom themselves as they normally would. Gently feel the sides of your rabbit, near the ribcage. If you can’t feel the rib bones easily under a thin layer of fat, your pet is probably overweight.


Check with your vet to confirm the obesity diagnosis. A diet and exercise plan will be implemented to return your rabbit to a healthy weight. A change in food brand or type may be necessary, so ask your vet what will be best for your rabbit.

How to Prevent Obesity

By keeping your rabbit on a proper diet and allowing him plenty of exercise time daily, you can avoid the pitfall of obesity and the trouble of correcting it. Include fresh greens in your rabbit’s diet every day, and ensure he’s getting the right balance of nutrients. Let your pet outside of his cage, monitoring him closely, and get him active to burn off some excess calories. You’re not alone in the quest to keep your rabbit at a healthy weight—keep your Des Moines veterinarian’s number close at hand to call with any questions or concerns.

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