Rabbit Awareness Week is organised each year by a coalition of partners, including Burgess Pet Care, various vet bodies and charities including the RSPCA, RWAF, PDSA, Wood Green The Animals Charity and Blue Cross. The partners all have one thing in common – we put animal welfare at the heart of everything we do.
Each year Rabbit Awareness Week focuses on highlighting one key welfare issue to help improve the lives of UK rabbits.
According to the annual PDSA Animal Welfare (PAW) Report, inappropriate diet has been consistently cited by veterinary professionals as the top issue that needs to be addressed for rabbits since the first report in 2011. Therefore, this is our 2018 campaign focus.
Muesli-based diets have been proven to increase the risk of many harmful conditions for rabbits by published, peer-reviewed research undertaken by The University of Edinburgh. The study showed that muesli-based diets encourage selective feeding, where rabbits eat some (high starch/sugar) components of the muesli diet while rejecting the more fibrous pellets.
Selective feeding in this way increases the risk of:
All of these conditions are extremely damaging to rabbits’ health and welfare and can be fatal.
The 2017 PDSA PAW Report shows that 25% of owners still feed muesli as part of their rabbit’s main diet equating to ‘280,000 rabbits being fed a harmful diet*’.
In light of this we will be raising awareness around the risks of feeding muesli-based diets, encouraging all owners to ‘Move Away From Muesli’ in 2018 and to transition their rabbits onto a high-quality, hay-based diet.
We would like to invite all vets, owners and retailers, who are taking the step to move away from muesli, to sign this letter and share the message to encourage others.
*PDSA Paw Report 2017 (www.pdsa.org.uk/pawreport) – number of rabbits based on the estimated population of 1.1 million pet rabbits in the UK.