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Runny Poo No More! The No Pellet Rabbit Diet

Updated on May 20, 2010
Wild bunnies understand the importance of hay, even in the face of rhinos...
Wild bunnies understand the importance of hay, even in the face of rhinos...

Does your rabbit suffer from stinky runny poo that sticks to the fur and clumps in a disgusting mess that is almost impossible to clean off? Do they seem to be in constant moulting that never stops?

These issues could be caused by feeding your rabbit commercially produced rabbit pellets. Much like processed people food, too much and sometimes, any at all commercially produced rabbit food can play havoc with your rabbit's digestive system and health.

Most of the time we're told by pet stores that a good diet for rabbits is hay and pellets, and they're right, sort of. Hay is exceptionally important, in fact, if you are feeding a high quality meadow hay with a range of grasses in it, hay should be able to form 99% of your rabbit's diet, occasionally supplemented by a little carrot or apple for additional vitamins.

Many commercial rabbit pellets, especially the pellets that are recommended for guinea pigs and rabbits can cause tummy upsets in rabbits that make them impossible to have around the house. If you have a long haired rabbit, smushy poo in the fur is the owner's worst nightmare, as bunnies don't take well to baths and clipping the mess out is a distinctly unpleasant task. One way or another, you're going to end up covered in bunny poop.

I used to have these problems until I switched my cashmere mini lop Wicket over to a near 100% hay diet. She also gets dandelion leaves which she loves, and which apparently help control molting. At one stage, Wicket was a continuously molting mess who would regularly be seen hopping around with mushy poo in her fur. After changing to the hay / dandelion diet, with carrot to provide Vitamin A, which is essential for rabbits, her coat is looking absolutely beautiful and her poo is nice and regular as it should be.

So remember, just because it says 'rabbit pellets' on the bag, it doesn't mean it will actually be good for your bunny. All rabbits are different of course, however it is not uncommon for commercial pellets to cause stomach troubles, and if your rabbit isn't looking quite right and his or her digestive system seems out of whack, try feeding masses of hay and no pellets at all. As long as you supplement the diet with small amounts of vitamin rich rabbit safe vegetables like carrot once in a while, your bunny will be much healthier than if he or she was on a processed food diet.


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      Tmoney 2 years ago

      Oh it was 4 years ago... the authors rabbit is def dead by now with that crazy diet it was on...

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      Tmoney 2 years ago

      ... all those rabbits in my yard are just starving for some processed pellets...

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      Tmoney 2 years ago

      Yeah, Lily, its an emergency... OMG the author's rabbit is in so much trouble. Starving with our pellets... you're a complete idiot. The diet the author describes is perfectly fine. Yes rabbits can eat more greens, and some rabbits can have treats of apples and carrots once in a while and have no ill effects. So, keep your uninformed alarmist over reactions to yourself.

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      Josephine 5 years ago

      I agree with the above comments, however, I would like to add that it is in fact possible to feed your rabbit a pellet-less diet, but *NOT* as described in this article. Please see link below for a complete article written by a real veterinarian on how to feed a pelletless diet.

      I have provided a pelletless diet to my rabbits for several years and they have never been healthier. However, it costs me about $25-35/week to provide my three rabbits with the amount of fresh greens they require on a pelletless diet. It also requires a certain amount of attention as they do need quite a variety to get the nutrition they need and not an overdose of calcium. They need *at least* 4 different types of dark leafy greens per day. Mine get about 6 or more.

      Whether on pellets or not, adult rabbits MUST have unlimited grass hay at all times, as well as fresh, dark leafy greens (babies get unlimited alfalfa hay). If they are on pellets most vets will recommend 2-4 cups/day of fresh greens, depending on size of rabbit. It is very important they eat non-starchy leafy greens, NOT apple and carrot, which are high in sugar and over time cause gastric upset and can even cause GI stasis. I highly recommend the author of this article reconsider their rabbits' diet.

      Each of my rabbits gets roughly their body size in fresh leafy greens daily. (I do not feed ANY fruit or treats ever. They don't miss it, their greens are their treats!) I split the greens up into two feedings, am and pm. They always have access to hay of course, and i always give them fresh hay am and pm before feeding the greens. That way they don't fill up on greens and skip the hay, which is very important long fiber that they need. So, after they've eaten their hay for a while, then I give them their greens.

      All changes to diet MUST be made gradually!

      Anyway, this has worked great for me, they are all very happy and healthy, ages 1-6 years. A pelletless diet has worked for us, but do not go into any dietary change without consulting your vet.

      A GREAT vet-written article about pelletless diets:

      Thanks for reading, hope this helps.

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      Rabbit Breeders 6 years ago

      Pellet vs Natural Feed has always been a debate.

      At we recommend feeding a pellet diet due to the fact that it is a easy solution for an uninformed rabbit raiser.

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      Erika 7 years ago

      Lily is right..please research this point i am worried for your rabbit, i volunteer in rabbit rescue and we see many rabbits whose owners are misinformed

      Please go to House Rabbit Society and read...

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      Lily 7 years ago

      No! This is so wrong! Rabbits need unlimited amounts of TIMOTHY hay and they need a certain amount of timothy-based pellets every day. That runny poop you are seeing? That is normal! Your rabbits are actually supposed to eat it! They are called CECAL pellets and the hard pellets you see are called FECAL pellets. When you have a normal, healthy rabbit, you usually never see the cecal pellets. When you take their pellets(food) away, you are actually starving them. Please check out for more information.