Last Updated on October 8, 2022 by Rei Garnet
Dog food is mostly made from meats, meat byproducts, cereals, grains, vitamins, and minerals. All of which should not be given to rabbits in any amount intentionally because rabbits are herbivores therefore their digestive system is not designed to digest large amounts of meat.
Rabbits that are fed large amounts of food that contains meat like dog food is at risk of developing digestive problems like diarrhea, GI stasis, intestinal blockage, liver diseases, and dental damage.
If you notice any changes in your rabbit’s stool, 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 why rabbits can’t eat dog food:
Risk of overfeeding dog food to rabbits.
Meats, meat byproducts, cereals, and grains being the main ingredient of most dog food, carries a certain risk when fed in large amounts because rabbits are not designed to digest these ingredients.
Here are some of the risks associated when you feed your rabbits large amounts of dog food:
Fatty liver disease
Because most dog food is high in fat, feeding your rabbits dog food long-term to lead to Hepatic Lipidosis or fatty liver disease. Rabbit’s diet should only consist of less than 3% fat, while most dog food contains meats and meat by-products that are high in fat.
Here are the signs that your rabbit might be suffering from fatty liver disease caused by excess fat:
- Loss of appetite (anorexia) – may be sudden or gradual
- Weight loss
- Decline in number and size of droppings (feces)
- Depression and lethargy
Diarrhea in rabbits is often caused by the wrong diet or when their diet is changed too fast. Feeding your rabbit large amounts of dog food would check those two boxes I mentioned.
Gastrointestinal stasis is also possible when a rabbit is fed large amounts of dog food, which is high in carbs and starch due to the grains and cereal content of most dog foods.
GI stasis happens when the balance of bacteria in your rabbit’s gut is disrupted due to a high-carb, low-fiber diet. 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.
Obesity in rabbits is also possible when fed large amounts of fatty food like dog food. Due to the meat content of most dog food, feeding it to your rabbit could lead to an increased risk of obesity. But if your rabbits are eating large amounts of dog food for long periods of time, they would likely develop other health problems that could lead to death before obesity.
Soft uneaten cecotropes are also possible when rabbits are eating large amounts of dog food instead of hay. This could lead to softer cecotropes due to the lack of fiber in your rabbit’s diet.
Because dog foods are designed to be consumed by dogs, which have different teeth structures than rabbits, 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.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Should you panic if your rabbit ate a little amount of dog food?
While it’s true that rabbits should not eat dog food, taking a small bite of dog food is not a problem. Rabbits in the wild would even eat their own kits as a survival tactic to raise the probability of their offspring.
The same case for domesticated rabbits, as long as you’re not feeding a lot of dog food then you should be fine. Just observe your rabbit for any behavioral changes or any changes in their poop.
If you’re still worried, feed them lots of hay. The extra fiber would help flush out those remaining dog food in their system.
What to do if your rabbit ate dog food?
Feeding lots of hay would help to mitigate any adverse effects from eating dog food because the extra fiber would help flush out that meat in their system.
A rabbit eating small amounts of dog food is not a concern as long as the rabbit is on a fiber-rich diet. Just make sure that you monitor their stool for any changes both in consistency and size.
A rabbit that’s fed large amounts of meat-based food like dog food could lead to health problems like diarrhea, GI stasis, intestinal blockage, liver diseases, and dental damage. 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.
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