If you have ever contemplated giving your rabbit peanut butter, then you’ll want to know if it is safe to do so. Is it a healthy treat and can they enjoy it like us humans? I decided to conduct some research and would like to present that here today.
So, can rabbits eat peanut butter? No, peanut butter is unsafe to give to rabbits. Rabbits do not have the digestive system to effectively process it. This is due to the high fat, high calories, high sugar/salt and other components like calcium, phosphorus and acid. While peanut butter is perfectly fine for humans and some animals to consume, for a rabbit, the effects of eating peanut butter (especially in large quantities) can be catastrophic to their health.
Let us now explore the topic further to help you understand why you should not feed peanut butter to your rabbit. We will also be looking at other foods to avoid and what foods are better alternatives and safe to feed your rabbit.
Why Should Rabbits Not Eat Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter is a largely processed food that even humans should eat in moderation. When analyzing the nutritional content of peanut butter, you soon see why this is not an appropriate food for rabbits:
With this in mind, rabbits should not be given peanut butter for the main following reasons:
1. High In Fat – peanut butter is high in fat which will pose significant digestion issues. Rabbits do not have the ability to digest fats in the same way us humans can and their organs are not primed to process a large quantity, especially all at once. Excessive fat can lead to diarrhea, and subsequent dehydration.
2. High-Calorie Content – peanut butter is very high in calories, even in small quanitites. This will likely present your rabbit with weight issues and can result in obesity if left unchecked. Moreover, peanut butter provides little in terms of nutritional value so there is nothing for them to outwardly ‘gain’ from consuming it.
3) High In Sugar – a lot of peanut butter brands add sugar to their formula to make it more flavorsome. However, for a rabbit this can also lead to digestive issues, such as diarrhea, stomach upsets, and gas, as rabbits cannot effectively digest sugar. This will also cause bad gut bacteria to develop and lead to further issues down the line.
4) High In Salt– Another regular addition to peanut butter is salt. Salt is not something that a rabbit should be consuming nor do they need to consume it. It can lead to health complications if provided in excess.
5) Other harmful components – peanut butter does have other components which are not ideal for rabbits. These include calcium, phosphorus, and acid. These can all cause issues with the urinary tract of rabbits, and result in infections, bladder and kidney stones. It is therefore essential that you manage the amount of calcium/phosphorous and acid they consume.
Now that you know that there are health risks associated with peanut butter, it should be clear that it should not be fed under any circumstance. There is no benefit in doing so and there are safer snack options available.
Can Rabbits Eat Nuts?
Taking this one step further, you may be wondering can rabbits eat nuts? The answer to that question is also a no.
It is not recommended to feed nuts to your rabbits because most nuts are toxic. This is because of the fact that they are high in acid, calcium, phosphorous, and of course, very high in fat, and will lead to weight problems such as obesity.
Their digestive systems cannot cope with any food that is high in fat, protein, and/or carbohydrates. Their fragile and delicate digestive system is just not cut out for it.
Instead, their diet must be high in fiber and low in overall energy – which is why hay is ideal for them. The high fiber contain also promotes good gut bacteria and ensures that they can extract the maximum amount of nutrition from the food that they do consume.
If you overfeed your pet any nuts, you can expect intestinal issues like GI stasis and enteritis (a fatty liver disease) caused by the over-consumption of fat.
If you need further evidence that nuts are unsafe for rabbits, consider what the most recognized brands use in their pellets; they do not usually contain any nuts or seeds!
Finally, consider the diet of rabbits in the wild, they do not have access to or would not generally eat nuts if they were available. Thus, it logically follows that pet rabbits should also not eat them.
Unsafe Foods For Your Rabbit
Now that we know peanut butter is not safe, you may be wondering what other foods are also not deemed healthy.
Rabbits need foods that promote good gut bacteria, so aside from nuts, rabbits, should not be fed the following foods:
- Seeds and fruit pips – especially apple seeds. Apple seeds contain small amounts of arsenic and are highly toxic to most animals, including rabbits.
- Crunchy foods – like cereals, dried fruit, crackers, and oatmeal, even if they are labeled as high in fiber.
- Avocados – contain a toxic compound called Persin, which if consumed in large amounts can lead to respiratory issues.
- Any other type of pet food – like cat, dog, and hamster food.
- Iceberg lettuce – contains a harmful chemical called lactucarium, in large amounts, it can cause weakness and diarrhea.
- Rhubarb – rhubarb can interfere with calcium absorption which can cause bloatedness, tummy ache, lethargy, and a sore mouth.
- Chocolate – this contains Theobromine and Caffeine. Chocolate is dangerous for rabbits as it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, heart failure, and high temperature.
- Potato leaves – potatoes are high in starch, this makes it hard for rabbits to digest them. Potatoes themselves are not poisonous, but their leaves are toxic to rabbits.
- Allium Vegetables – these vegetables include onions, garlic, shallots, and chives. these foods can cause a loss of red blood cells and can lead to dizziness, weakness, and even death.
Foods Safe For Rabbits
When it comes to caring for your pet rabbit, you do need to pay special attention to their diet.
While the list of foods that your rabbit should not eat appears large, thankfully there are some other foods that they can consume and enjoy as treats that offer variety.
However, it is important to note that rabbits are perfectly happy and safe to consume the same food regularly. So long as it is good quality, fresh and responsibly sourced.
So, you should not just buy any brand or bag of pellets, you should always seek out the best you can and ensure it is good quality. If you don’t you risk subjecting your rabbit to health complications latter down the line.
That aside, your rabbit needs a frequent, fresh and large daily supply of hay to survive and thrive. The bulk and majority of their diet must be hay. If you consider their diet in percentages, it should look like the following:
- Hay (80%)
- Veggies/Fruits (10%)
- Pellets (5%)
- Treats (5%)
When it comes to sourcing hay, you want to opt for a good quality 2nd cut. This cut of hay is preferable for all ages, has an ideal ratio of stem/seed-head/leaf, is appetizing and has an optimal balance of nutrients.
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A good quality brand of pellets is carefully formulated, fresh and includes an ideal blend of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
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Never consider mixtures containing seeds and nuts – they are not healthy for your rabbit.
Let’s now look at some other foods that are safe for your rabbit to consume, so you will have a better idea of what tidbits to offer them:
- Leafy Greens – these foods should make up 75% of the fresh portion of your rabbit’s diet, this is about 1 cup per 2 LBS of body weight a day. There is a wide range of leafy greens available, so to avoid a build-up of Oxalic acid, you must rotate these foods, and offer only one out of three varieties of greens a day. Leafy greens include kale, spinach, swiss chard, arugula, carrot tops, endive, rocket, red or green lettuce, and romaine.
- Non-leafy vegetables – these foods should make up no more than 15% of their diet, this is about 1 tablespoon per 2 LBS of body weight a day. Non-leafy vegetables include carrots, broccoli, celery, pea pods, brussels sprouts, cabbage, squash, zucchini.
- Fruits – these foods should make up no more than 10% of their diet, about 1 teaspoon per 2 LBS of body weight a day. The skin of the fruit contains more nutrition, so just wash the skin well, and offer the fruit in its unpeeled state, unless otherwise stated. Bear in mind that some fruit seeds and skins are toxic for rabbits. Fruits include apples (without seeds or stems) plums, pears, kiwi, peaches, mango, pineapple, melons, bananas (without their peel) apricots, papaya, and cherries.
Rabbits are not as low maintenance as many believe. They are quite fragile and have their own unique needs and requirements – especially in regards to their digestive system!
Rabbits thrive on a diet high in hay (80%), whereby a combination of vegetables, fruits, pellets and treats make up the rest.
Unfortunately, peanut butter is not a ‘treat’ you should ever give to your rabbits. It provides no benefit nor nutritional value and will more likely lead to adverse health affects and issues.
If you are looking for different options for treats, you and your rabbit would be far better off buying one of the recommended options below: