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Why Do Rabbits Need Hay?

Published date: 12 March 2024

Did you know hay should make up 80-90% of a rabbit’s diet?

According to recent PDSA statistics, only 32% of rabbit owners in the UK give their bunny constant access to hay. This means around 29% of owners are giving less than the recommended minimum amount.

Hay is essential and here are a few reasons why:

Hay Provides Dental Support

Our bunnies have hypsodont teeth, which means (unlike ours) theirs are constantly growing. Unfortunately, due to this one of the biggest problems faced by rabbits is dental disease.

Overgrown teeth can lead to abscesses, pain and eventually rabbits become unable to eat, drink or groom themselves. Hay provides the perfect tool for grinding bunnies teeth down and keeping them at a healthy length.

Bunnies have 28 teeth which includes the classic cute teeth at the front and hidden back molars. Hay is trimmed by the front teeth and passed to the back, which grinds in a scissor like action to keep them at optimum length.

Giving your rabbit ad lib hay throughout the day means they have constant access to their most essential dietary component.

Pssst: Better quality hay will be tastier and better for your bunny!

Hay Supports Digestion

Not eating enough hay can result in rabbits’ intestinal functions slowing down, otherwise known as Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis.

This is a common and potentially deadly condition which results in bad bacteria building up in the intestines. This build-up causes painful bloating and reduce rabbits’ appetite/ ability to drink. Our bunnies need hay to keep their system moving and keep their gut healthy and functioning.

Alongside their hay, the best option for a natural pelleted rabbit food is a diet designed to properly support their gut health.

Hay Encourages Natural Foraging

In the wild rabbits would spend a large portion of their time foraging for grasses, herbs and nutritious wildflowers. Our domestic bunnies are no different and hay provides an ideal natural source of forage.

Hiding nutritious tasty treats or pieces of safe fruit and vegetables in their hay makes it even more enriching.

Hay Helps Prevent Hairballs

Did you know rabbits get hairballs? These can be a scary situation for our bunnies, as they lack a regurgitation reflex, hairballs can easily become impacted in their gut.

However, there is an easy preventative for hairballs, and you guessed it, its hay! The insoluble fibre content of hay helps to lubricate rabbit’s digestive tract and aids in pushing food and hair through the gut. Remember the best diets will always contain a high fibre level and hairball support for rabbits.

So, there you have it, hay keeps our small furry friends healthy and happy.

For more help and advice, take a look at our rabbit guide.

Written by Lucy Marcham

Lucy teaches all aspects of the Pets Corner curriculum and specialises in animal nutrition, ensuring that our staff have the right knowledge and understanding of pet diets to assist customers with confidence and care.