Britain\u2019s rabbits are at risk from the effects of poor nutrition, claims Rabbit Awareness Week.\r\nAnimal welfare experts and organisations are coming together and calling on the public to address this key issue with them as they announce the theme of their 2018 campaign taking place between June 2-10.\r\nThis year\u2019s campaign is urging rabbit owners to sign the \u2018Move Away from Muesli\u2019 pledge and join the RAW team in raising awareness around the risks of feeding rabbits muesli-based diets.\r\nEach year, RAW focuses on raising awareness around one key welfare issue to help improve the lives of UK rabbits. Since 2011, inappropriate diet has been cited by veterinary professionals in the annual\u00a0PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report\u00a0\u00a0as the top issue that needs to be addressed for rabbits.\r\nDespite the alleged dangers, the PAW Report 2017 found that 25 percent of rabbit owners are still feeding their rabbits muesli as part of their main diet, equating to 280,000 rabbits being fed a harmful diet*.\r\nAlex Thorne at Burgess Pet Care, explains the importance of this year\u2019s campaign and the ideal diet for rabbits:\r\n\u201cMuesli should never be part of a rabbit\u2019s diet but, sadly, a widespread lack of understanding and awareness around its risks means it\u2019s often too easy for rabbit owners to make the wrong choice. Research continues to show that there is a lack of understanding around the correct nutritional needs of rabbits, and the continued feeding of muesli is a major outcome of that.\u201d\r\n\u201cFeeding rabbits muesli increases the risk of selective feeding. Just like children would typically pick sweet treats when faced with the choice between them or vegetables, rabbits will eat parts of the muesli mix that are high in starch and sugar, whilst leaving behind the more nutritious elements.\r\n"We\u2019re encouraging all rabbit lovers to get involved with this year\u2019s campaign by visiting the Rabbit Awareness Week website and signing the \u2018Move Away from Muesli\u2019 pledge, before spreading the word amongst fellow rabbit owners.\r\n"It\u2019s our ambition to move as many rabbits away from muesli towards a good quality hay-based diet supplemented by a small portion of high-quality nuggets and a few fresh greens, which provides the nutrients rabbits need to be happy and healthy.\u201d\r\nDr Jane Tyson, RSPCA rabbit welfare expert said: \u201cThe research conducted by the University of Edinburgh showed that a muesli-based diet can increase the risk of rabbits developing serious teeth and tummy problems which can\u00a0result in terrible suffering as well as selective feeding, which causes an unbalanced diet.\r\n"The RSPCA would urge all loving rabbit owners to ensure their rabbit's diet consists mainly of good quality hay and\/or grass to give their rabbit the healthiest diet possible. For variety this should also include some safe, washed, leafy green vegetables or herbs. A small measured portion of good quality pellets or nuggets can be fed daily. Sadly, research has shown there is a lot of misunderstanding around rabbits\u2019 diets so we are hoping this year through Rabbit Awareness Week we can make a real difference and improve the lives of rabbits."\r\nFrom 2 \u2013 10 June, thousands of veterinary practices across the UK will be supporting this year\u2019s campaign by offering free health checks and discounted treatments and vaccinations.\r\nPDSA Vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan continued: \u201cRabbits are one of the UK\u2019s most misunderstood pets so it\u2019s vital that owners are ensuring they receive frequent health checks. Research from our 2017 PAW Report showed that a large proportion of the nation\u2019s bunnies are consistently missing out on their basic welfare needs being met for their diet, environment, companionship, behaviour and health needs.\r\n"32 percent of rabbits are not registered with a vet and 50% of rabbits have not had a primary vaccination course when young. Despite needing companionship from their own species, a massive 56 percent of rabbits also live alone, which has huge implications for their welfare.\r\n\u201cMany of the health conditions that rabbits may experience from feeding muesli-based diets develop over time and may not be immediately apparent: rabbits hide signs of illness until it becomes very severe. Veterinary professionals are here to help and can often identify emerging issues before they owners become aware and treat them accordingly.\u201d\r\n\r\n*PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2017 (www.pdsa.org.uk\/pawreport) \u2013 number of rabbits based on the estimated population of 1.1 million pet rabbits in the UK.