Last Updated on December 21, 2021 by Rei Garnet
Although dates are not considered poisonous to rabbits, feeding them large amounts of dates could lead to problems like diarrhea, dental problems, uneaten cecotropes, and GI stasis because rabbits are not designed to digest large amounts of sugar.
Dates contain a lot of sugar, 100 grams of dates have 66 grams of sugar, while rabbits would be fine even with zero sugar in their diet. Which is why dates it’s not recommended to be given to rabbits in any amount intentionally.
Some scientists even used discarded dates to meat rabbits as a substitute to barley grains, what they found was dates can increasere
If you notice any changes in your rabbit’s stool after feeding them dates, both in size and consistency, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.
Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why rabbits can’t eat dates:
Table of Contents
Risk of overfeeding dates to rabbits.
High-sugar food like dates should not be fed to rabbits intentionally. They carry certain risks when fed in large amounts because rabbits’ digestive system is not really designed to digest large amounts of sugary food like dates.
Here are some of the risks associated when you feed your rabbits large amounts of dates:
Diarrhea in rabbits is often caused by the wrong diet or when their diet is changed too fast. Feeding your rabbit large amounts of dates would check those two boxes I mentioned.
Gastrointestinal stasis is also possible when a rabbit is fed large amounts of dates, which are high in sugar. GI stasis mainly happens when a rabbit is fed a high-carb, low-fiber diet.
GI stasis happens when the balance of bacteria in your rabbit’s gut is disrupted. This disruption would cause painful gas that would eventually lead to organ failure and death if not treated immediately.
The signs of GI stasis are:
- Hunched posture
- Decreased appetite/anorexia
If you notice any of these signs, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.
Soft uneaten cecotropes are also possible when rabbits are eating large amounts of dates instead of hay. This could lead to softer cecotropes due to the lack of fiber.
Due to high amounts of sugar in dates, feeding them to rabbits could cause damage to your rabbit’s delicate teeth and gums. Dental damage in rabbits is extremely serious. A rabbit that’s in pain due to dental damage would refuse to eat or only eat a little.
A rabbit that’s refusing to eat would eventually develop some kind of digestive problems like GI stasis because rabbits need to constantly eat for their gut to function properly.
Healthy alternative to dates as treats.
If you planning on giving your rabbits dates as treats, these alternatives are much healthier:
Here are some alternatives that you can give to your rabbits one to two times per week as a treat:
- Apple (remove seeds)
- Cherries (remove seeds)
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Should you panic if your rabbit ate a little bit of dates?
While dates are not recommended for rabbits, it’s still not toxic. It’s just that dates are too high in sugar which is not digested well by rabbits.
Just feed them a lot of hay if you are worried. The extra fiber would likely fix the problem on its own.
What to do if your rabbit ate dates?
Observe their behavior and poop for any changes. You should also feed them a lot of hay. The extra fiber would help balance their gut flora. If you notice any changes in their poop or behavior, consult a veterinarian immediately.
A rabbit that’s fed large amounts of sugary food like dates could lead to digestive distress like GI stasis, soft uneaten cecotropes, dental damage, and diarrhea. It could also lead to obesity, especially to rabbits who are confined in small cages all day without access to regular exercise.
If your rabbit is exhibiting signs of digestive distress, immediately bring them to a veterinarian.
- Dates, medjool
- Effect of Replacement of Barley Grains by Wasted Bread Crumbs or Rejected Dates on Growth Performance and Carcass Traits of Growing Rabbits
Image credit: ORGANIChouse, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons