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Is obesity a problem in pet rabbits?
  1. Anna Meredith, MA, VetMB, PhD, CertLAS, DZooMed, MRCVS
  1. Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RT, UK
  1. e-mail: anna.meredith{at}

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FEW people can be unaware of the rising tide of obesity affecting domestic pets and humans alike, and the associated health risks.

In people, the World Health Organization considers obesity as a global epidemic (James 2008) and the term ‘globesity’ has been coined; it is a shameful paradox that obesity can coexist with undernutrition in both developed and underdeveloped countries.

Welfare concerns associated with being overweight or obese are increasingly being raised in dogs, cats and horses (Ellis 1990, German 2006), but have not been widely recognised in rabbits. Despite there being widespread acceptance and increasing awareness that rabbits should eat a diet composed of hay, grass, leafy greens and limited amounts of a high fibre concentrate, and that muesli-type cereal mixes should be avoided, there are as yet no published controlled studies investigating the direct effects of different commonly fed diets on pet rabbit bodyweight and condition score. As for other companion animals, rabbit owners may not appreciate what is a normal or ideal bodyweight or condition for their pet, or recognise signs more obvious in other species, such as exercise intolerance or ambulatory difficulties. Vets are perhaps not as used to measuring the body condition score (BCS) of rabbits as they are with other species, …

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