Many rabbit owners like to supplement their pet’s diet with fresh fruit and vegetables to give their rabbit the occasional treat and boost of nutrients. But many owners will ask, “can rabbits eat bread?” Bread could be harmful to your rabbit and could upset the digestive tract causing diarrhea, an upset stomach, or even an ulcer.
Bread contains starch which is harmful to rabbits. Starch is heavy and difficult to digest, mainly because a rabbit’s system is not designed to process this complex carbohydrate. Instead of digesting the bread, the food is left to ferment in the stomach and intestines. Too much bread can lead to disease or obesity and can become fatal.
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Should Rabbits Eat Stale Bread?
A common misconception shared by pet rabbit owners is that bunnies should eat stale bread to help their teeth. The thought is that gnawing on stale bread will help wear the teeth down, keeping the rabbit healthy with improved dental health.
The truth is that rabbits’ teeth are kept healthy when rabbits eat their proper diet. While it is true that rabbits need to grind their teeth to keep their teeth healthy, the repetitive grinding from continuous grazing is enough to keep your rabbit’s teeth in tip-top shape. A rabbit with an unlimited supply of hay and grass will keep the teeth well-worn and healthy. If you would like to give your rabbit additional chews to supplement their diet or help give them mental stimulation, there are several available healthy wooden chews that rabbits will enjoy munching.
What Should I Do If My Rabbit Ate Bread?
The good news is that in small quantities, the bread will not immediately poison your rabbit, but it may give your rabbit some serious digestive troubles. If your rabbit has accidentally eaten bread, keep a close eye on your pet and carefully observe it for several days. You may notice that your rabbit develops indigestion, diarrhea, or appears sick. Be incredibly observant of any troubling signs that could indicate your rabbit is in distress. Some common symptoms of a sick rabbit include:
- Diarrhea – If diarrhea is persistent and not improving, your rabbit runs the risk of dehydration.
- Lethargy – A rabbit that appears lethargic or lacking energy could be sick. If your rabbit is less active than usual or shows little interest in playing, your rabbit may be unwell.
- Little Appetite – If your rabbit is no longer interested in its regular food, it may be suffering an upset stomach or blockage preventing it from eating.
- Bloody Stool – A rabbit suffering from a stomach ulcer caused by fermenting bread could have blood in its stool. Ulcers are dangerous and potentially life-threatening for rabbits.
If you notice signs or symptoms of a more significant health problem after watching your rabbit ingest bread, be sure to call your veterinarian immediately. For immediate assistance, the ASPCA website has valuable information about administering fast emergency medical treatment until you can reach the veterinarian.
Can Rabbits Have Flour?
Flour is the main ingredient in most bread, but the danger in bread is starch. Flour, in powder form, is commonly found in cereal, roots, beans, and some seeds. When given in small quantities, flour can be safe for a rabbit.
In fact, many commercially produced rabbit pellets contain small amounts of flour, often used as a binding ingredient. Even high-quality pellets and treats will have small traces of flour. A rabbit will be perfectly safe eating flour if given in small quantities. Simply ensure that flour is never the main ingredient in pellets, and your rabbit is not consuming a diet of flour-based foods as their main source of nutrition.
Can Rabbits Eat Carbohydrates?
Bread contains high levels of carbohydrates which are difficult for a rabbit to digest. A rabbit needs carbohydrates to survive, but the number of carbohydrates necessary to sustain a rabbit’s energy naturally occurs in grass and hay that a rabbit eats daily. Rabbit owners should be aware that certain popular vegetables contain high amounts of carbohydrates. While the vegetables are certainly not toxic for rabbits, owners should limit the quantity they give their pets. Carbohydrates should never be given to baby rabbits, and adult rabbits should never eat more than 2% of their diet in carbohydrates. Some high carbohydrate vegetables that should be avoided for rabbits include:
- Potatoes (Including Fries)
What Should Rabbits Eat?
Maintaining a proper diet is the best way to keep your rabbit healthy and happy. Rabbits are natural grazers in the wild and need unlimited access to hay and grass. While fresh hay is preferred, dried hay and grass provide just as much nutritional value and may be easier for rabbit owners to store. Hay and grass should make up about 75% of your rabbit’s diet. Any type of hay is safe for your rabbit, including wheatgrass, alfalfa hay, timothy hay, and oat grass.
Another 15% of your rabbit’s diet should come from leafy green vegetables. Try to give your rabbit spinach, kale, or broccoli to eat every day. Always be sure to wash any vegetables before feeding them to your rabbit thoroughly, and buy organic produce if possible. Try to avoid giving your rabbit pale greens, like iceberg lettuce, which has little nutritional value.
The remaining 5% of your rabbit’s diet should come from high-quality rabbit pellets and the occasional treat. Fresh fruit can be used as a treat, but be sure only to give fruit sparingly. Give your rabbit one piece of fruit, about the size of your rabbit’s paw, two or three times a week. Fruit is high in sugar and can lead to obesity if given too often.
Related: Can Rabbits Eat Quaker Oats?
What Are Safe Treats For Your Rabbit?
Giving your rabbit treats is a great way to form a lasting bond with your rabbit. Not only are treats fun and tasty for your pet, but they can be super training tools, offering a reward for a job well done. Commercially produced treats are available for rabbits but should be avoided if possible. These treats are often high in sugar and carbohydrates, which can be difficult for your rabbit to digest fully. Instead, try to give your rabbit some fresh fruit. Some great fruits to provide your rabbit include:
- Oranges (with seeds removed)
- Cherries (with pits removed)
- Apples (with seeds removed)
- Pears (with seeds removed)
Fresh fruit is always preferred, but dried fruits can be used instead. When feeding your pet rabbit dried fruit, be sure to give your rabbit even less in each portion. Dried fruit is exceptionally high in sugar content which is not suitable for your rabbit’s overall health.
What Foods Are Dangerous for Rabbits?
In addition to any foods that contain starch, like bread, you’ll want to avoid foods that are dangerous or toxic for your rabbit. Because of their small body mass and ability to metabolize food quickly take any accidental poisoning exceptionally seriously. Be sure to call your veterinarian if your rabbit accidentally eats:
- Meat or Eggs
- Fruit Seeds or Cherry Pits
- Raw Garlic or Onions
- Kidney Beans
- Salty Foods such as olives
Although relatively easy to care for, rabbits have some pretty strict restrictions on their diet. Rabbits should be given an unlimited supply of grass and hay and should never eat bread. Eating bread disrupts a rabbit’s delicate digestive system and can lead to serious health problems. The rabbit has difficulty breaking down the starch found in bread which can lead to diarrhea, blockages, or even stomach ulcers. Plus, bread contains many carbohydrates that can lead to obesity and other obesity-related diseases. If your rabbit has accidentally ingested bread, be sure to keep a close eye on your rabbit to watch for signs of possible digestive distress.