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Top Five Foods Toxic to Rabbits

Top Five Foods Toxic to Rabbits

               Rabbits are popular pets, but did you know that certain foods are toxic to bunnies? To wrap up Pet Poison Prevention month, we’ll take a look at some foods that are toxic to our long-eared friends.

               Avocados—avocados contain a toxin called Persin that is extremely toxic to rabbits. It can cause breathing problems and heart failure. Ingesting avocados can be fatal to your rabbit.

               Fruit seeds—while most fruits are safe in moderation, seeds such as apple seeds, peach pits and plum pits contain cyanide compounds that can be toxic to rabbits and other animals.  The flesh of the fruit is safe, but be sure to remove all seeds before feeding any fruits to your bunny.

               Rhubarb—rhubarb contains oxalate crystals which can cause swelling and pain in the rabbit’s mouth if ingested as well as diarrhea, bloating, increased water consumption and lethargy.

               Allium-type vegetables including onions, garlic, shallots and chives—these plants can cause breakdown of the rabbit’s red blood cells or sometimes a severe anaphylactic reaction.  The resulting anemia or shock can cause weakness and death.

               Iceberg lettuce—but, rabbits love lettuce, right? How can it be toxic?  Dark, leafy greens and other types of lettuce like Bibb lettuce or Romaine are OK. But iceberg lettuce actually contains a toxin called lactucarium.  A small amount is not usually harmful, but eating large amounts of iceberg lettuce can cause severe diarrhea and weakness and may even be fatal to young rabbits.

In addition to the fruits and vegetables mentioned above, rabbits should also not be fed cauliflower, parsnips or raisins. While not toxic, they can make your rabbit very sick. Cauliflower causes gas and bloating. Parsnips and raisins are difficult to digest due to their high starch and sugar content respectively, and raisins can also cause a blockage in the rabbit’s stomach.

Rabbits CAN eat small amounts of broccoli, celery and bell pepper, and, of course, carrots! Their diets should consist of timothy hay and dark leafy greens like kale, commercial rabbit pellets, and grass. Occasional bits of fruit are OK as a treat, but no seeds.

If you think your rabbit may have ingested a toxic food or your bunny is acting sick—lethargic, diarrhea, trouble breathing, etc.—contact your veterinarian right away.  Prompt treatment may save your rabbit if he or she has eaten something toxic.

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.