When taking care of your pets, such as rabbits, it is easy to confuse what we eat as humans with what is also suitable for them. For obvious reasons, rabbits are incredibly different from humans, especially in their digestive systems.
As humans, we can eat whatever we want: meat, greens, carbs, starch, sugar, etc. Rabbits are sensitive to many foods. Well, that is not the case for rabbits. They must stay on a strict and healthy diet to ensure their health and prevent ailments.
A rabbit’s digestive system can only break down cellulose, which means leafy greens, vegetables, and limited fruit. Foods that are rich in starch and complex carbohydrates are definitely out of the picture.
Here is why you can not feed your rabbit bread and other foods that could be harmful to their health.
You cannot give your rabbit bread; bread is a prime example of food loaded with starch and a complex carbohydrate. Your furry friend would have a difficult time digesting the bread, which would result in discomfort, excreting runny stool, intestinal upset, and potential diarrhea.
If you were to feed your rabbit bread daily, it would result in obesity and inactivity; two dangerous things to your rabbit’s health.
If you are interested in feeding your rabbit bread as a treat once in a while, there are a few things you need to remember. The portions of bread need to be super small, and you should be careful what type of bread you use.
White bread is known to be significantly more starchy and higher in complex carbohydrates. This could cause extreme discomfort.
You can give wheat bread, toasted bread, or whole-meal bread to your rabbit in small portions, but it is not recommended.
What should rabbits eat?
Now that you know that bread is out of the question, what is safe for your rabbit to eat? Fresh hay is a staple for your rabbit. Grass should make up most of your rabbit’s diet. The high fiber helps with maintaining their healthy digestive system.
You want to put a big pile of hay in the corner of their cage. Put it in the corner of their litter box, so they don’t confuse eating their feces and the hay at the same time.
Further, with the mass amount of hay, their teeth start to wear down. By eating hay, they get to wear down their teeth. When your rabbit’s teeth grow longer and sharper than they should, it causes them to cut their tongues, cut the insides of their cheeks, and cause tissue abscesses.
Another essential part of your rabbit’s diet is leafy green vegetables.
If you are looking for some greens to give your pet, be sure the greens you pick up in your supermarket are free of pesticides. You can shop for lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, clovers, dill, basil, kale, mint, parsley, watercress, etc.
Before feeding your pet these yummy greens, be sure to wash them. When you provide your friend with a nice dose of leafy greens, try and use various greens and see how they react towards certain leaves. You will soon find out their favorite.
Again, your rabbit’s digestive system is sensitive, so you need to be sure that you are feeding them things that are high in fiber and nutrients. The following foods are not recommended to feed your rabbit:
- Grains: Bread, as we went over, crackers, cereal, rice; none of these foods are healthy for your rabbit. Carbohydrates should be avoided entirely.
- Junk Foods: Chips, cookies, candy; things that we, as humans, love to indulge in but know are not healthy are also not beneficial for your furry rabbit friend. These foods are high in sugar and artificial ingredients that can cause bacterial growth in their gut. This will cause their whole digestive system to shut down, which will result in death—especially chocolate.
- Meat and Eggs: Your rabbit is a herbivore, which means they do not eat meat or eggs. You don’t want to feed your cute friend these products. Their body is not equipped to digest these foods.
- Dairy: Milk and dairy products (such as yogurt, butter, and ice cream) can lead to a deathly case of enterotoxaemia, which is a harmful growth of bacteria. These foods are naturally high in sugar as well, which could cause teeth issues.
- Iceberg Lettuce: Surprisingly, iceberg lettuce is not suitable for your rabbit. Yes, I know, leafy greens are best for your friend, but not iceberg lettuce. It contains a high level of lactucarium, which can cause runny stool. Iceberg lettuce is mostly water, which gives little nutrients to your pet anyway.
- Carrots: Another shocker! The stereotype has always been rabbits and carrots go hand and hand. Carrots are not poisonous, but they are high in calcium and natural sugars, which is bad for your rabbit’s gut health and teeth. Carrots should be a once-in-a-while treat for your friend.
- Nightshade Plants: Nightshade plants (such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.) can be toxic for rabbits and most animals. Avoid feeding your rabbit raw potatoes or peels, tomatoes, and peppers. If you want to give your rabbit a treat, you want it to be in small amounts.
- Rhubarb: Rhubarb leaves can be dangerous. They contain high oxalic acid levels, which could cause kidney damage to your rabbit, which could lead to death. All parts of the rhubarb plants should be avoided.
- Avocado: All parts of the avocado are poisonous to rabbits. The seeds, leaves, and skin are the most toxic parts. But the actual “meat” itself is also contaminated too.
- Peas: Peas are not toxic, but they are high in sugar and phosphorus, so they are not great for your pet.
- Cauliflower: Also, not toxic, but cauliflower can give your rabbit gas and make them bloated, which is super uncomfortable.
- Corn: Rabbits can not digest a corn hull, which is the part that surrounds the kernel. It can become stuck in the GI tract.
- Apple Seeds: Apples make an occasional treat for your pet, but make sure the seeds are taken out. They can contain toxic levels of arsenic.
Good Foods For Your Rabbit
Yes, we have gone over hay and leafy green, but there is more than you can feed your rabbit as small treats. You want to be sure that your rabbit is receiving primarily hay, leafy greens, and the occasional pellets in their diet.
But sometimes treating them is also showing that you love them. Here are a few foods that your rabbit can safely eat:
- Romaine or dark leaf lettuce
- Carrot tops
- Collard greens
- Celery and celery leaves
- Broccoli leaves
- Bok choy
- Cover or dandelion leaf and flowers
- Mustard greens
- Herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley, watercress
You can over the fruits like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, raspberries, apples, pears, mango, peaches, pineapple, and grapes for special treats. Be sure to cut them up into small pieces.
As humans, some of us can’t live without bread, but your rabbit can. It can cause discomfort, diarrhea, and runny stool.
Save yourself from the hefty vet bills, and be sure to feed your rabbit the foods they can eat. Your job as a pet owner is to take care of your animals, not cause harm.
There are plenty of other foods that your furry friends would much rather enjoy, such as hay, leafy greens, and pellets. This will help them stay active and healthy so they can be around for a long time.
Be sure to try to keep a variety of leafy greens to see what your friend loves and dislikes. Rabbits have sensitive digestive systems, so you always want to be feeding them the things they need rather than getting them sick. Enjoy feeding your furry friends.