If you are trying to find new treats for your pet rabbit, bread might seem like a good option. After all, it is a staple food for humans and it may be tempting to occasionally share a piece of your sandwich with your bunny.
Rabbits cannot eat bread. They have evolved to eat mostly grass or hay, along with small amounts of vegetables and fruit. They do not have a digestive system that can cope with bread. If you feed bread to your rabbit, it may eat it, but it is likely to get very sick as a result.
Why Can’t Rabbits Eat Bread?
Bread is not a good food for rabbits because it contains the wrong nutrient balances. It has fiber, starch, fat, carbohydrates, and protein in it, but these are not suited to a rabbit’s digestive system, and the bread could therefore make the rabbit sick.
Bread is high in carbohydrates and low in fiber. Rabbits need foods that are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. Bread also contains sugar and salt, which is not good for your rabbit.
Furthermore, it is too soft to be good for a rabbit’s teeth, which need to be ground down in order to stay in a healthy size and shape.
Stale bread is not the answer; although it may be harder, it still contains the wrong proportions of nutrients, and should not be fed to your rabbit.
Bread can really upset a rabbit’s digestive system. Rabbits have quite delicate digestion, and bread could result in a blockage forming, or food fermenting in the gut.
This issue is sometimes known as GI stasis, when food stops moving, and it can be fatal in some severe cases. You should never give your rabbit bread, therefore.
What If My Rabbit Ate Some Bread?
It’s all too easy to turn your back on your rabbit for a few moments while you do something else, and before you know it, your rabbit has been nibbling at a misplaced sandwich.
Don’t panic if this has happened, or if you feed your rabbit a bit of bread without checking first. Bread is not actually toxic to rabbits. It is unlikely to do major damage as long as the quantities are relatively low.
You should immediately remove the bread from the vicinity, and then keep a close eye on your rabbit. Observe it over the next two days.
If your rabbit stops eating or pooping, or if it seems lethargic, miserable, or in pain, you should call your vet. It is possible that your rabbit has a blockage of some sort, and an operation may be needed in order to correct this.
You should also call your vet if its droppings are extremely hard, or if it is suffering from diarrhea. These indicate digestive issues that may need expert handling to correct.
Over those two days, you should make sure that your rabbit sticks to gentle foods, mostly living on hay or grass. Do not give it any other challenging foods, such as brassicas, or anything it has not eaten before.
Do provide plenty of hay and fresh water. This should give its digestive system time to process the bread and stabilize again. The fibrous nature of hay keeps the digestive system moving, so if a rabbit eats plenty of it, it is more likely to process and get rid of the bread quickly.
If you have any concerns at all during this two day period, make sure you contact your vet immediately. Rabbits are sensitive animals, and it’s better to check than to end up losing your bunny.
What About Seeded Bread?
You might be wondering whether one of the healthy loaves of bread is any better. After all, some wholemeal bread with seeds is really good for a human, so what about for a bunny?
Unfortunately, these loaves still aren’t suitable for rabbits. They may contain slightly higher quantities of fiber, but they are still packed with carbohydrates and therefore they are not a good option.
Even “healthy” bread could lead to weight gain, teeth problems, and digestive issues if you feed it to your rabbit too often. Keep bread out of your rabbit’s diet, and opt for fruits and vegetables instead.
What Can I Feed To My Rabbit?
There are plenty of healthy things you can give to your bunny. Its diet should be composed almost exclusively of hay or grass, as this is the mainstay of a wild rabbit’s diet and it keeps the digestive system functioning healthily.
However, you can also give your rabbit a few treats, and approximately ten percent of its diet can be freshly chopped vegetables. Fresh carrots, small amounts of broccoli, little bits of banana, and a few leaves of dark lettuce are all good for your rabbit.
Make sure that any time you introduce a new food to your rabbit, you only give it a small amount to begin with. This will ensure that you don’t upset its stomach, and you have time to gauge its reaction to the food in case it causes any upset.
I Know Rabbits That Eat Bread And They Are Fine
If you know a rabbit that has survived just fine with bread in its diet, you might be puzzled. However, remember that bread is not actually toxic; it is just not good for rabbits. It does not contain any ingredients that will cause direct harm on a short term basis.
A rabbit that is fed bread regularly, however, is likely to get overweight as a result. It is also more likely to encounter joint problems, teeth problems, and stomach problems.
Bread may not harm a rabbit outright, but it should not be included in a rabbit’s diet.
Rabbits should not be given bread. It is not a food that they have evolved to process properly, and it does not contain the nutrition that your bunny needs. If you want to share your food, opt for chopped vegetables and small portions of fresh fruit, rather than bread or other baked goods.