We love rabbits here at East Bend Animal Hospital. Not only are they adorable, but they are smart and full of personality. Rabbits can be trained to use the litterbox, come when they are called, and can even be taught tricks! Many people find that rabbits make the perfect addition to their family.
We receive a lot of questions about rabbit nutrition. Because rabbits have such sensitive digestive systems, we have compiled a few nutrition tips and recommendations to help keep your rabbit happy and healthy.
Rabbits require a high fiber diet. A majority of their diet should consist of high-quality timothy hay. Alfalfa hay should be avoided as it can cause bladder stones. Hay should be supplemented with small amounts of timothy-based rabbit pellets.
Fresh greens should be offered daily. We recommend up to one cup of greens per four pounds of body weight per day. A variety of romaine lettuce, collard and mustard greens, parsley, and endive are ideal. We do not recommend feeding kale and spinach because these greens can bind calcium and cause sludge or stones in the bladder. Small amounts of pears, apples, peaches, bananas, carrots, and green peppers can be fed as treats. These foods contain a high amount of sugar and should be offered sparingly.
High-carb foods and sugary processed foods should not be fed to your rabbit; they lack the nutritional value necessary to keep your rabbit healthy. Many fruits, vegetables, and plants can be toxic to rabbits. Below is a list of some of the foods to avoid feeding to your rabbit. They can cause gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, mouth irritation, difficulty or labored breathing, or death.
- Fruit pits or seeds
- Iceberg lettuce
- Allium vegetables (onions, garlic, shallots, chives, etc)
Many plants are not safe for your rabbit to eat either. Daffodils, foxglove, clover, tulips, ivy, hemlock, honeysuckle, and most house plants are toxic to rabbits. It is imperative to keep these plants out of your rabbit’s reach at all times.
If you are unsure if a food is safe to feed your rabbit, or if you suspect your rabbit may have eaten something harmful or toxic, we recommend calling your veterinarian immediately.