Rabbits are adorable animals and they make the cutest pets. It’s fun to feed them and watch them eat as they hold their food with cute little paws and gnaw at it.
Do rabbits have a specific kind of diet, or can you feed them anything you like? Is it okay to give them sweet treats like chocolate and candy when you’re feeling some extra love for them?
Read on to learn about the specific diet that rabbits require and their specialized digestive systems.
What Happens If Rabbits Eat Chocolate?
Rabbits are extremely sensitive animals. This includes their very complex digestive tract as well. They must never be fed chocolate as even the tiniest amount can prove to be fatal for your tiny little furry friend.
Chocolate is highly poisonous for rabbits as it contains caffeine and theobromine. Both these active ingredients are extremely potent in rabbits and can be very dangerous for them.
If your rabbit accidentally ingests chocolate, it must immediately be rushed to the vet.
If it is possible for you to treat them at home and it is difficult to see a vet instantly, you must try and force feed them a lot of water to dilute the harmful effects of the chocolate.
Theobromine takes a longer time to metabolize in the rabbits’ bodies than it does in humans and therefore accumulates to dangerous amounts.
It must be pumped out of the body to prevent organ failure and even the death of the animal.
What Should You Do If Your Rabbit Eats Chocolate?
If your rabbit has ingested chocolate by mistake and you aren’t sure how much, you must immediately rush your rabbit to the vet in an emergency.
If, for some reason, this is not possible, then you must immediately offer water to your rabbit. Keep trying to give it water to help neutralize the effects of the chocolate and flush it out of its body.
Keep watching and monitoring your rabbit as symptoms of poisoning may take between 6-12 hours to appear. Watch out for the following symptoms:
- Rapid breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Being aggressive
Since rabbits cannot digest the chocolate, it needs to exit the body via poop, urine or vomit. It would be ideal if the rabbit puked it out instantly, but that is rare and very difficult to induce in a rabbit.
Rabbits cannot vomit, so your only option is to keep giving them water. Chocolate takes 10 to 20 hours to leave the body of the rabbit.
How Much Chocolate Too Much For Your Rabbit?
Even the tiniest piece of chocolate is too much for your rabbit so it must always be treated like an emergency. Generally speaking, 1 oz. of chocolate can prove to be fatal for a rabbit weighing 5 pounds.
This might be different with different rabbits and different types of chocolate. Some might contain greater concentrations of theobromine, and some may contain less.
Regardless of how much chocolate your rabbit has consumed, it must immediately be rushed to the veterinarian for a thorough and complete examination.
The vet can use a stomach tube to flush the chocolate out or pump it out, but this is very difficult to achieve.
If you think your rabbit had a very tiny piece of chocolate and is appearing fine and you have kept them hydrated, you must still pay a visit to the vet.
The vet can run some blood tests to confirm if the rabbit is truly out of danger.
What Kind Of Food Do Rabbits Like To Eat?
Rabbits are primarily herbivorous, and their diet consists mostly of plants and plant-based foods. Rabbits are grazers, and they like to eat constantly.
Unlike felines, rabbits do not eat protein or meat products. They have complex digestive systems, and their diet is very specific.
Any change in their diet can disrupt the normal flora in their gut, causing gas and toxin-producing bacteria to grow in the gut, which can be problematic and even dangerous for the bunnies.
Hay makes up a very important component of the rabbits’ diet and should be given to them in abundance. Good quality hay should be provided to the rabbit.
Hay is rich in fiber which is extremely important for the efficient functioning of the rabbit’s digestive tract.
Rabbits must also be given a portion of dark green leafy vegetables every day consisting of lettuce, bok choy, carrot tops, broccoli, cilantro, broccoli and basil, to name a few.
These should be given in abundance as they are rich in essential nutrients and fiber that are ideal for the rabbit.
Other vegetables such as potatoes and carrots, which are rich in carbohydrates, should be avoided and given in limited amounts as they can contribute to diabetes and obesity in the long term.
While fat rabbits are adorable to look at, they aren’t the healthiest. Obesity predisposes rabbits to a lot of other diseases at a young age, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as arthritis.
Collard, kale and Swiss chard should also be given in limited quantities as these are rich in calcium and can cause bladder stones in rabbits which are a very painful condition.
Brussels sprouts and iceberg lettuce are mostly water and consist of very little nutrients, and are hence not recommended to be fed in large quantities.
The Bottom Line
All animals are built a certain way, and their digestive systems are specialized for specific diets. When you own a pet, you must be mindful of what is okay to feed them and what might be dangerous.
Rabbits are strict herbivores, and their digestive system demands a specific kind of diet. This does not include chocolate, chocolate derivatives or any other kind of candy.
Not only is chocolate indigestible for the bunnies, but it is straight-up poisonous. It can kill your rabbit and therefore, it is important to be very cautious with what you feed your pet rabbit.
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