The Importance of Hay
rabbits like hay

The Importance of Hay

Rabbits and HayDespite the popular image of a rabbit with a carrot, the fact is that carrots aren’t a big part of a healthy rabbit’s diet. In fact, hay should make up 80% of your rabbit’s diet.

Rabbits are designed to eat large amounts of high fibrous food. A proper diet consists of

  • 80% grass hay
  • 10% veggies
  •   5% healthy pellets
  • 0-5% healthy treats

Fresh water must be available at all times

The importance of hay cannot be overstated!

  • Hay keeps cecal flora in balance – it promotes a healthy gut
  • The repetitive, rapid chewing movement of eating hay helps maintain dental health
  • Hay provides a key component of nutritional needs
  • Hay helps prevent fur blockage (especially important for long-haired breeds)
  • Hay satisfies natural snacking and chewing urges
  • Hay encourages natural behaviors such as foraging and grazing, which may diminish boredom, increase activity, and provide a sense of security

Health Issues from Lack of Hay

The most common rabbit health problems are gastrointestinal issues and dental disease. Improper nutrition is often the key contributing factor in each of these widespread problems. Feeding 80% hay is preventative health care.

Grass Hays are Best

Grass hays are best because they are lower in protein and calcium. Try bluegrass, brome, fescue, marsh, orchard, timothy, oat and ryegrass. Offering a diversity of hay is important nutritionally. A diversity of hay also desensitizes rabbits to small changes in smell and texture, resulting in good, consistent eaters.

If you have questions about your rabbit’s diet, the House Rabbit Society can help. We are here to help people learn how to properly care for their rabbit. And our hundreds of educators across the country are available to answer any questions you might have on how best to maintain your rabbit’s well-being. If you’re looking to learn more, please consider purchasing the House Rabbit Handbook: How to Live with an Urban Rabbit

Susan Smith, PhD University of WI, Madison
Micah Kohles, DVM, MPA
Anthony Pilny, DVM

by Amy Ramnaraine

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