Diet FAQ

From WabbitWiki
Main article: Diet

Is it possible to feed too many vegetables?

Main article: Vegetables

Generally, rabbits are good at self-regulating when given a giant pile of fresh dark greens. No lasting harm will be done if you offer more than the recommended amount. However, some rabbits may react badly to specific types or too large of an amount and get runny stools and diarrhea. These rabbits should have their greens portioned strictly or may even need to have vegetables cut out from the diet. Smaller dark poops can also indicate that the rabbit should eat more hay for more fiber in their diet. Remember that you should not feed too many sugar-loaded vegetables like carrots, and these should be strictly rationed as treats.

Is it okay for my bunny to eat dog or cat food?

It can be very dangerous for a rabbit to regularly snack on dog or cat food. These foods are designed for carnivores, not for herbivores. They are high in protein, fat, and grain-based carbohydrates.

Recommended protein percentages range from 18% for adult dogs to 28% for puppies, and recommended fat percentages range from 9-15% for adult dogs and 17% for puppies.[1] Recommended diet percentages for cats range from 25-30% for protein and 15-20% for fat.[2] Recommended diet percentages for rabbits are only 12-14% for protein and 2-5% for fat.[3]

Although rabbits can eat small amounts of dog or cat food and appear to be normal, rabbits also have very sensitive digestive systems, and something that doesn't agree with them can over time quickly send them into digestive upset. Excessive levels of protein can lead to kidney damage, and excessive levels of fat and carbohydrates can lead to obesity.[4] Keep all dog and cat food out of the reach of your rabbit!

The following are a few stories of rabbits that were fed dog food accidentally or exclusively:

Can my bunny eat yogurt treats?

Main article: Treats

We do not recommend feeding any dairy treats such as yogurt drops to rabbits as treats. Rabbits are strict vegans in the wild and never have access to milk and other dairy products.

Adult rabbits do not naturally have the right bacteria to process dairy in their cecum and intestines and can consequently accelerate the onset of GI stasis in the absence of the bacteria.[5] These yogurt treats also extremely high in sugar content, and as the House Rabbit Society states,[6]

...excessive sugar is converted to fat, or will pass into the cecum where the bacteria will use it for energy and then rapidly overgrow, possibly leading to bacterial imbalance and gi stasis.

However, MediRabbit does note, [5]

Yogurt diluted in water can nevertheless help rabbit suffering from intestinal bacterial disturbances et diarrhea, by protecting the endemic bacterial flora and allowing it to grow.

See Treats for appropriate treats that can be fed instead that are natural to their diet.

Can my rabbit eat onion and garlic?

Main article: Toxic plants

Onion and garlic have many purported medicinal uses; however, they should not be fed to rabbits. Onions and garlic have an immunosuppressive effect in rabbits, and rabbits may also have an anaphylactic reaction.[7] See Vegetables and Treats for safe foods to feed your rabbit instead.

Acute LD50 toxicity using garlic extract has been established at 3034 mg/kg with other behavioural signs like loss of appetite and partial paralysis.[8]

Can I feed carrots to my rabbit?

Main article: Vegetables, Treats

Yes, carrots can safely be fed to your rabbit, but should not be a major part of their diet. Carrots are very starchy and high in sugars and can cultivate the wrong type of flora in your rabbit's digestive system as well as encourage obesity. See Vegetables for more information on what can be fed more often to your rabbit and Treats for more ideas for rabbit-safe treats that can be fed in limited amounts.

Does my rabbit need a salt lick or mineral block?

With a proper diet, rabbits have no need for a salt lick or mineral block. There is little evidence that additional salt is required, but some rabbits like the taste. Mineral blocks are unnecessary, and some blocks may contain high levels of calcium that can be harmful if the rabbit gnaws and eats them in large amounts.[9] A rabbit confined to a hutch may destroy and eat the mineral block as a displacement activity, not because it has an additional need for minerals.

Do I need to remove thorns from trimmings of plants like roses and raspberry and blackberry vines?

Main article: Vegetables

Anecdotal evidence has shown that rabbits will consume spiky plants, thorns and all.[10][11] Rabbits have no problems consuming other bristly plants such as bull thistle and radish leaves as well.[10] However, be careful of thorns getting caught in wooly breeds such as Angoras and Lionheads.[10]

You may wish to remove thorns from canes and branches for your own comfort instead as rabbits may often leave uneaten thorny stalks laying on the ground.

Can my rabbit eat the Christmas tree?

Most Christmas trees are a type of pine or fir, which are fine for rabbits to eat in small amounts.

The House Rabbit Society writes,[12]

If your Christmas tree has not been treated (with fire retardent, pesticides, etc) or painted, then it should be safe to chew. Note that natural chemical compounds in some evergreens may cause the bunny's urine to turn more orange than usual, but this is not a health concern.

If your tree has been treated, you can bunny-proof it by keeping it in a room outside of your bunny's roaming area, or fence it off with an exercise pen. Please also make sure that all non-bunny-friendly ornaments and electrical lights and cords are also kept out of your rabbit's reach. See Bunny-proofing for more ideas. Tinsel is best skipped in households with pets, as accidental ingestion of parts that fall on the ground can easily cause fatal digestion issues.

Why are muesli mixes bad for rabbits?

Good pellets do not include whole dried fruit, seeds, nuts, or other colored crunchy things. There should be only pellets and maybe hay and herbs and nothing else. As Town & Country Veterinary Hospital says,[13]

The problem with these foods is that each type of seed or ingredient has different nutritional content, and pets develop preferences for certain seeds or pieces. They can easily develop a deficiency when they become “picky eaters” and only eat certain parts of their food.

Additionally, key findings from a research study conducted by The University of Edinburgh in conjunction with Burgess Pet Care[14] suggested that feeding muesli-style diets to rabbits is associated with abnormalities that can lead to painful dental and digestive problems, such as dental disease, lower gut motility, selective feeding, obesity and urinary tract stones or sludge.[15]

Dr. Harcourt-Brown writes,[16]

The ingredients of muesli mixes are not sufficiently tough and fibrous to wear the teeth correctly and to keep the guts working properly. They are also fattening and can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies... The vitamin and mineral supplement comes in powder form, so it is usually incorporated into the compressed grass based pellets... The pellets are the least palatable ingredient of muesli mixes so most rabbits do not eat them and they are left in the bottom of their food bowl only to be discarded by the owner, along with the vitamin and mineral supplement they contain... If young rabbits do not get enough calcium, the bone surrounding the teeth is weakened so that the roots of the teeth press on the nerve supply to the teeth when the baby rabbit tries to eat hard food, such as hay. These rabbits never eat hard food so the owners think their rabbit 'doesn't like hay' even though they give it to them.

Some of these muesli mixes may contain foods such as corn and beans which are not recommended for rabbits to eat in general. These foods have the possibility of causing GI obstructions.[17]


  1. (n.d.). Protein Requirements for Good Nutrition. Retrieved 5 May 2016 from
  2. (n.d.). Protein Requirements for Good Nutrition. Retrieved 5 May 2016 from
  3. Moore, L. (2013). Rabbit nutrition and nutritional healing. (2nd ed.).
  4. Rabbit Q&A
  5. 5.0 5.1, Can rabbits eat yogurt or dairy products?
  6. House Rabbit Society, Susan M. Smith, Ph.D., FAQ: Treat Foods
  7. MediRabbit, Can rabbits eat onion or garlic?
  8. Mikhail, H.G. (2010). Phytochemical screening, elemental analysis and acute toxicity of aqueous extract of Allium sativum L. bulbs in experimental rabbits. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 4(4), 322-326.
  9. Varga, M. (2013). Textbook of rabbit medicine. (2nd ed.).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 RabbitTalk, Thorny plants
  11. HomesteadingToday, Rose Branches and Leaves for Feed - What About The Thorns?
  12. House Rabbit Society. (n.d.). Your Bunny and the Holidays. Retrieved 21 Dec 2019 from
  13. Town & Country Veterinary Hospital, Charlene Arendas, DVM, Quick Tips for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs
  14. Burgess Pet Care Looking after your pets
  15. Rabbit Awareness Week, The Research
  16. Frances Harcourt-Brown, The problem with muesli mixes. Accessed Aug 18, 2015.
  17. Keeble, E & Meredith, A. (2006). Rabbit medicine & surgery: Self-assessment color review.