The concept of "too much of a good thing" is definitely alive and well when it comes to rabbits and calcium consumption. Although some calcium is a must, unusually high levels of the element can trigger health issues in rabbits -- think kidney stones, for example.
Calcium and Rabbits
If a rabbit receives too much calcium in his diet, he may be at risk for developing urinary issues such as bladder stones, kidney stones and even "sludge." Rabbits are different than most other mammals in that their bodies do not eliminate excess calcium via bowel movements, but rather via the renal tract. When a rabbit is getting too much calcium, it may result in his urine taking on a thicker, milkier or sludge-like appearance.
Fresh Vegetables With Low Calcium
Fresh vegetables are a key element to a well-rounded and balanced rabbit diet. Outside of hay and pellets, regular but moderate feedings of nutrient-packed, rabbit-safe veggies are an absolute must. If your bunny has issues with excessive calcium, however, you may want to opt for vegetables that are lower in the stuff. By doing this, you may just spare your bunny the frustration of further urinary issues. Some examples of low-calcium vegetables are romaine lettuce, cilantro, carrots, brussels sprouts and cucumbers. In the fruit world, low-calcium options include bananas, apples, pears, strawberries and peaches. Be very moderate with feeding your cutie fruit, however. Restrict it to a small and occasional yummy treat.
Vegetables With High Calcium
Rabbits who have problems with excess calcium may want to avoid vegetables that are rich in it -- think spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, mustard greens and watercress. All of these vegetables may exacerbate or perpetuate a rabbit's calcium problems, so take note. If you are uncertain about a vegetable or fruit's calcium content, speak to your veterinarian before you feed it to your fluffy pet.
Signs of Urinary Issues
If you are concerned your rabbit is consuming too much dietary calcium, pay close attention to him for any telling symptoms of urinary issues. Some things to look out for include exhaustion, appetite loss, pain during urination, frequent urination, difficulty urinating, unusually small trickles of urine and assuming a crouched stance. If you notice any of these things, schedule an appointment with your vet. Your rabbit may have a condition that requires immediate management, such as bladder stones.
- The Urban Rabbit Refuge: Rabbit Care
- RWAF: Calcium Problems in Rabbits
- House Rabbit Society: Lowering Blood Calcium
- Ontario Rabbit Education Organization: Stones & Sludge
- RabbitWise: Pet Rabbit Care
- Bright Eyes Sanctuary: Rabbit Care Info
- House Rabbit Network: Urinary Calcium and Its Consequences
- House Rabbit Society: Suggested Vegetables and Fruits for a Rabbit Diet
- Small Animal Channel: How to Feed a Pet Bunny