Purina® Rabbit Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Traveling With Your Show Rabbits

Before taking your rabbits to a show make sure they are in good health and condition since traveling can be an additional stress on rabbits. Also check for disqualifiers before leaving, to avoid unnecessary transportation. Check for runny noses, open sores, ear cankers, weepy eyes, loose stool, evidence of fur mites, or any other signs of communicable diseases to avoid spreading them to other rabbits at a show. By following these travel tips you can make sure that a bad trip doesn't overshadow what's supposed to be one of the best parts about raising rabbits—showing!

The best choice for transporting your rabbits by car is a rabbit carrier, because regular sized cages can take up a lot of space. The carriers have wire bottoms with leak-proof trays underneath and meet the requirements for carrier shows. Line your carriers with an absorbent material, such as puppy training pad, rabbit litter, or newspaper. You can easily find carriers in singles, doubles, triples, quad, and sometimes more.

Packing Up Putting a tarp underneath your rabbit supplies can help protect your vehicle from hay, hair, and spills, but make sure your rabbits can't get a hold of it and start chewing. Packing carriers so that rabbits are facing the sides of the vehicle will stop them from getting thrown against the wire cage if you have to brake suddenly. If you're transporting a lot of rabbits, you can stack cages, connecting and securing them with bungee cords to limit movement; however, make sure your view is unobstructed. Be sure to secure all food and water dishes to the cage to keep them from moving around.

Just as making sure your rabbit has plenty of fresh air in its hutch, ventilation is especially important when traveling. Never put rabbits in the trunk of a car, and in hot weather keep them out of truck beds and trailers unless they're air-conditioned. In winter, make sure none of your rabbits are placed directly in front of a heat vent.

Food and Water
Bring along your rabbit's normal feed and favorite treats, because their appetites might suffer from traveling. If you're traveling for 10 hours or less, your rabbits should be okay without food and water while moving; however, be sure to offer them food and water when you stop for breaks. Having familiar food will be one less thing to add stress. Additionally, have hay available for your rabbit when traveling to help control stress. Consider bringing water from home as well, since different mineral levels can be hard to adjust to. Using travel size water bottles can make packing your carriers easier as well.

On the Road
Be prepared to stop periodically to check on your rabbits. Make sure they have plenty of water available, especially if you're using smaller, travel-sized bottles. Using a car ionizer can help control odors and make the ride more comfortable for you and your rabbits. Try to avoid sudden acceleration and hitting your brakes since rabbits can't anticipate movement. Be sure to park in the shade when you stop for breaks, and if it's hot, leave your car running and air conditioning on. If you're on a long drive and need to stop for the night, take your rabbits inside if possible. If you aren't allowed to, make sure it's dark and cooler when you stop, keep windows open, and park in the shade.

In the Air
Before booking a trip, visit the airline's website to read about fees and regulations, because many have different policies for transporting rabbits. When you make your reservation, be sure to let the airline know you'll be traveling with rabbits and verify there will be enough space. It's a good idea to get written confirmation. Try to get a direct flight and avoid flying in warmer months. Airline travel with rabbits is often limited to October through April. Take your rabbits to the vet to get a certificate that says they are safe and healthy to travel (certificates are good within 10 days of a flight) and bring this with you. Additionally you will need a statement from your veterinarian that says your rabbits have been acclimated to temperatures below 25 degrees. This temperature acclamation form is available on the airlines website for pet travel.

Bring a wheeled carrier to transport your cages to, from, and through airports. Many times you won't be charged for it, but check with your airline. Upon arriving at the airport, go to the check-in desk for instructions. You may be asked to open your cages and have your rabbits inspected at security. Use zip ties to secure cage lids to avoid letting your rabbit accidentally get loose, and if possible, clamp multiple cages together if they're going to be stacked. When you arrive at your destination, find an employee immediately to find out where to pick your rabbits up if they were shipped as cargo or baggage.

Quarantining rabbits after a show can help keep your herd at home from picking up any diseases a rabbit might have caught while surrounded by its other furry friends. By keeping a rabbit you just showed separate from the rest of your rabbits for at least two weeks, you can monitor for illness and disease and deal with it before it is able to spread.

Remember that rabbits stress very easily, especially while traveling. By planning ahead and taking the proper precautions, you can help make the trip more comfortable for you and your rabbits.

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RABBIT TIPS | Overcoming Digestive Upset

A rabbit with an upset digestive system can be a serious problem. Diarrhea is one of the most common causes of death in rabbits. Diarrhea is a result of inflammation of the intestines and can be a side effect of several other underlying problems including diet mismanagement, stress, disease or the use of certain antibiotics or genetics.

Diet Management
The rabbit digestive system depends on beneficial bacteria and microorganisms to break down food. This process, called fermentation, takes place in the part of the rabbit's digestive tract called the cecum, located where the small and large intestines intersect. The nutrients from fermentation are packaged into soft feces, also known as night droppings or cecotropes. These are then consumed by the rabbit in a process called coprophagy.

A diet high in fiber will keep the correct balance of nutrients going to the cecum and maintain normal levels of beneficial bacteria. Too little fiber can disrupt the fermentation process and cause a rabbit to produce more toxin producing bacteria which leads to diarrhea and dehydration. Purina® Rabbit Chow™ is a complete rabbit food that provides all of the fiber your rabbit needs to promote digestive health.

Newborn and weaning rabbits are more likely to develop diarrhea since their digestive systems are immature and they are less able to fight off harmful bacteria.

Rabbits under stress are more likely to get diarrhea. Extremes in temperature can cause your rabbit to suddenly change their feed intake, upsetting the population of bacteria in the cecum. Conditions such as wind, rain, drafts, and sun can also add stress and throw rabbits off of their feeding patterns. The presence of predators such as dogs, cats, and other animals can be an additional cause of stress.

Diarrhea is a common sign of disease that can be caused by internal parasites such as Coccidiosis. If you think your rabbit might be infected, isolate it immediately to stop the disease from spreading to other animals and call your veterinarian.

Certain antibiotics can destroy the beneficial bacteria used for fermentation and allow levels of toxin producing bacteria to increase. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian before using antibiotics.

To treat diarrhea reduce the food offered to your rabbits by 50% and provide some long-stem grass hay. Be sure plenty of clean water is available. Once the diarrhea has stopped, you can gradually increase the amount of food each day, reaching the full amount in two to three days. If the diarrhea doesn't stop right away after removing food, talk to your veterinarian immediately.

To prevent your rabbit from upsetting their digestive track follow these simple tips:
• Control feed intake in all of your rabbits, except lactating does and newly weaned bunnies.
• When making changes to your rabbit's feed, do it over a five to seven day period and gradually increase the amount of new feed, mixing it in with the old.
• Feed rabbits at the same time every day, preferably in the evening since rabbits are nocturnal in nature.
• Don't use antibiotics continuously as a preventative measure. Only use them when they are prescribed by your veterinarian when your rabbit is sick.
• Keep your rabbit healthy and happy by providing it with clean housing and protecting it from the weather and predators.

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GET TO KNOW | Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Fibre3® Natural AdvantEdge™

Purina® Rabbit Chow™ Fibre3® Natural AdvantEdge™ rabbit food is a natural*, rabbit food, formulated free of corn, that provides superior nutrition for rabbits of all ages. It helps younger rabbits get a great start and helps older rabbits maintain ideal body weight. Free of all fillers, preservatives, and artificial colors, Fibre3® Natural AdvantEdge™ Rabbit Food provides complete nutrition, giving your rabbits the food they need for growth, health and longevity.

• The Natural AdvantEdge—superior, consistent, natural* nutrition FREE from all fillers, preservatives and artificial colors

• High fiber—for normal digestive tract function and overall health

• Formulated corn-free—created especially for the unique needs of rabbits

• Great for rabbits of all ages—high fiber content is ideal for both young bunnies to help them get a good start, and to help older rabbits maintain ideal body weight

• Added lactobacillus, yeast and yucca shidigera—supports digestive health and aids in odor control

• Complete, natural nutrition—no additional supplements necessary and great for rabbits of all ages and perfect to maintain a healthy body weight

• High-quality plant proteins—loaded with natural nutrients found only in plants that optimize vitality and support immune function

• Highly palatable—for proper intake and growth

• Purina Feed Guard™ Nutrition System—stringent quality standards help ensure many of the industry's highest quality ingredients available are used, provides greater nutritional consistency bag after bag and considers all key nutrients and their interactions with each other to better support overall rabbit health

As always, when changing your rabbits from one feeding program to another, make the change gradually, over a five- to seven-day period. Mix the new feed with the old, gradually increasing the amount of the new feed (it's always important to allow time for the rabbits' intestinal flora to adjust to any new feed.) Continue to feed at the same time each day—evening is best. Clean the feeding dish daily so uneaten food does not become stale and moldy. And always provide plenty of clean, fresh, cool water to rabbits at all times.

*with added vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients

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