Can Rabbits Eat Olives?

Can Rabbits Eat Olives?

Can rabbits eat olives? How about olive oil? If you’re not sure, keep reading to learn just how safe it is to share olives with your furry friend. If you’ve dropped an olive on the floor and your furry companion nibbled on it before you noticed, will it make your bun sick? If you wanted to share an olive with your pet rabbit, will it hurt them?

Olives are not toxic to rabbits in very small amounts; however, there are reasons why you don’t want to feed them in large quantities to your bun. Let’s look at the issue, can rabbits eat olives? We’ll also look at the safety of rabbits eating olive oil and oil tree parts such as leaves and branches.

Can Rabbits Eat Olives: Sodium Content

One of the most compelling reasons not to feed your rabbit olives is because of an olive’s sodium content. As far as rabbits go, olives have very low nutrient levels and very high sodium levels. One olive – whether bottled, pickled or canned, whether black or green – contains approximately 38.9 mg of sodium.

A rabbit can tolerate 5-10 g/kg of sodium each day. Excess sodium can retard a rabbit’s growth and development. Olives are high in sodium; therefore, if you want to feed your bun an occasional olive, it should be treated as “junk food.” Just as your diet shouldn’t contain lots of junk food, nor should your rabbit’s.

Remember, a rabbit’s diet should consist mainly of grass and hay. Their digestive system is designed to process this type of food – food made up of cellulose fiber. Foods that are high in calories (an olive’s high-fat content makes them a high-calorie food) and carbs can be hard on a rabbit’s digestive system, leading to digestive distress and causing them to suffer from such issues as GI stasis, diarrhea or constipation.

Can Rabbits Eat Olives?

A rabbit’s body works and functions very similar to that of a human which is why they’re often used in laboratories to develop and test medicines and other products. This typically means rabbits can safely eat almost anything a human can eat. Although a given food may be “safe” for your bun to eat doesn’t mean the food won’t have a detrimental impact on them. Even “safe foods” can cause digestive distress and can be toxic when consumed in excess.

A rabbit’s stomach and digestive system are designed to process large amounts of plant-based fiber, called cellulose fiber, which is found in foods such as hay and grass. In fact, a bunny’s system has a specialized pouch, called a cecum, whose main purpose is to help them to digest this type of fiber.

Hay and grass should make up a major portion of a rabbit’s diet, accounting for at least 80 percent of their daily calorie intake. If a rabbit eats too much of other types of food, it can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances such as GI stasis, diarrhea or constipation.

Related: Can Rabbits Eat Maple Leaves?

How Many Olives are Safe for a Rabbit to Eat?

Your rabbit may enjoy munching on an occasional olive, but because olives are high in sodium and fat, they should be eaten only occasionally, at most.

Too much sodium in a rabbit’s diet can cause stunted growth and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Olives are high in fat, as well, and a rabbit’s digestive system is not equipped to handle fatty foods. When adding any type of fat to a rabbit’s diet, you should calculate the fat content of all the foods they eat. A rabbit’s calorie intake should consist of no more than three percent fat. Again, most of their diet should consist of grass and hay to prevent gastrointestinal problems.

Can Rabbits Eat Olives: If your rabbit has eaten too many olives, seek out a vet
A rabbit is very good at hiding the fact that they don’t feel well – it’s a survival technique they’ve developed. If your rabbit has eaten too many olives, be sure to get them checked out by a vet.

What Happens When a Rabbit Eats Too Many Olives?

Now that we’ve determined it’s safe for rabbits to eat an occasional olive, what happens when a rabbit eats too many?

If a rabbit eats too many olives, it will likely suffer from a gastrointestinal disturbance such as diarrhea or GI stasis. Both can be deadly.

We’ve already looked at the detrimental effects of high sodium and high oil levels in olives. Additionally, olives are packed with nutrients. When rabbits eat too many olives, their kidneys may not be able to adequately filter the large amounts of vitamins and minerals that olives contain, leading to unsafe levels in their body and potential kidney damage.

There are many risks associated with rabbits eating olives or eating them in excess, especially for young rabbits. Let’s look at these risks in a little more detail.

Retarded Growth

The intake of too much sodium can impede a rabbit’s growth. Because olives have a high sodium content, this can be a problem when rabbits eat too many olives. Remember, rabbits get sodium from other sources in their diet as well, so think about what your rabbit has eaten before feeding them an olive. Do other foods in their diet also contain excessive amounts of sodium?

Choking

A rabbit who is unused to eating olives, especially a young rabbit, may choke on them because they don’t chew them up well enough, causing the olive to get hung in their throat and block their airways. Additionally, a rabbit may choke on olive pits that haven’t been properly removed.

Diarrhea

Eating too many olives can cause diarrhea and “poopy butt” or “sticky butt”. This can be especially true if feeding a rabbit olives for the first time. Anytime you feed your rabbit a new food, it’s wise to introduce the food slowly over a long period of time. This will give their gut flora time to adjust and reduce their chances of developing diarrhea.

GI (Gut) Stasis

Hay and grass should make up a major portion of a rabbit’s diet, accounting for at least 80 percent of their daily calorie intake. If a rabbit eats too much of other types of food, such as olives, it can suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances such as GI stasis. Hay and grass keep food moving through their digestive tracts.

GI stasis is a potentially deadly condition for rabbits. GI stasis means the rabbit’s digestive system may slow down substantially or stop completely. When this happens, bad bacteria builds up in the rabbit’s digestive tract, releasing gas which leads to very painful bloating. This can cause the rabbit to stop eating and drinking entirely.

If your rabbit develops problems after eating too many olives, call your vet so they can begin any necessary treatment.

Can Eating Olives Cause Death in Rabbits?

In certain instances, eating olives can cause death. These include:

  • If a rabbit isn’t used to eating olives and doesn’t chew them up properly, the rabbit’s airways can become blocked
  • Choking on pits that haven’t been removed properly
  • If the rabbit eats too many olives, they may develop GI stasis or severe diarrhea
  • If the rabbit’s kidneys become damaged, this will shorten your bun’s life

Additionally, eating other parts of the olive tree can be toxic to rabbits. More on this in the section below, Can Rabbits Eat Olive Leaves or Olive Branches.

If your rabbit eats more than one or two olives, call your vet to see if there is something they want to do to prevent the sickness and/or death of your furry friend.

Can rabbits eat olives: olive oil should not be fed to rabbits regularly
Olive oil can be used occasionally to relieve constipation.

Can Rabbits Eat Olive Oil?

Although it isn’t poisonous to rabbits, olive oil shouldn’t be given to your bun unless absolutely necessary. What qualifies as “absolutely necessary?” A rabbit can be given a small amount of olive oil to relieve constipation. Other than that, a rabbit shouldn’t be given olive oil for any reason.

How much olive oil is administered to relieve constipation?

Some rabbit owners give their buns a teaspoon of olive oil to relieve constipation; however, if that doesn’t work, you need to contact your vet who can prescribe a laxative. If you don’t feel safe administering olive oil to your bun when it has constipation, call your vet for advice.

Can Rabbits Eat Olives: Never feed olive leaves or olive branches to rabbits
Olive leaves, branches, bark and roots are toxic to bunnies.

Can Rabbits Eat Olive Leaves or Olive Branches?

Although olive fruits may be fed to rabbits occasionally, other parts of the olive tree are toxic to rabbits. All parts of the tree, including the bark, branches, leaves and roots, contain substances that are harmful to our furry companions.

If you’re growing a small olive tree, such as a bonsai, inside your home, be sure to keep the plant out of reach of your bun. If you have an olive tree outside and allow your rabbit to graze in your fenced yard, make sure your bun cannot get to any part of the olive tree, including branches and leaves that may fall to the ground.

Conclusion: Can Rabbits Eat Olives?

Rabbits can safely eat an occasional olive as long as they are slowly introduced into their diet to prevent stomach upset. They cannot, however, eat any other part of the olive tree.

If you feed your bun olives, and they develop any adverse reaction or unusual behavior, immediately stop feeding them olives and call your vet. Your vet can advise you on how to proceed or determine that you need to bring your bunny buddy in for a consultation.

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