The Pet Industry Federation (PIF) will announce the results of its year long research study into the differences between feeding muesli and nuggets to rabbits at the Pet Industry Forum on the 28 November.
The study set out to validate a previous study (Meredith et al., 2015; Prebble et al., 2014; Prebble et al., 2015) on the subject of diet presentation and its effects on weight, feed intake and dental health, which had a profound impact on the industry because of a general lack of research into pet rabbit nutrition.
PIF’s year long independent study has taken place at two separate colleges and set out to assess the impact of two diet presentations (muesli vs nuggets) on weight, body condition score and the dental health of pet rabbits.
The rabbits were not kept in laboratory conditions, but in outdoor pens to simulate how a rabbit may be kept in an outside home environment. The rabbits were allowed free access to hay and water and were provided with driftwood logs as a non-nutritional chew.
The dental health was assessed by a specialist veterinarian at the beginning, middle and at the end of the study. Dental assessments looked at malocclusion, elongation, slanting wear, ridging, fractures of incisors; direction, elongation, step/wave mouth, missing teeth and gingival health of cheek teeth, as well as facial indicators of dental health.
Nigel Baker, CEO of PIF said: “We are pleased to be looking further into rabbit nutrition and welfare. Many of our members sell rabbits as pets or sell rabbit food to pet owners, and it is important that we can convey the correct advice to them and their customers on how rabbits should be fed.
“Both muesli and nugget diets are readily available and the trade association has set out to bring clarity to this subject through academic research. Further research studies are being planned by PIF to aid knowledge into how we look after the welfare of our pets.”