Can Rabbits Eat Chocolate? The answer to that question is a definitive no!
I have a sweet tooth and so do my rabbits. My rabbits always get excited when they see me eating some chocolate. So I wondered, is chocolate even safe for rabbits? Here is what I found!
Chocolate is a man made processed food, it contains many naturally occurring compounds such as caffeine and theobromine which can be really toxic to pet rabbits.
These compounds are harmless to us humans but can be fatal to a rabbit. A pet rabbits’s physiology is very different from us. Chocolate is simply not a food they had ever encountered.Thus they never developed a system to digest it properly. Instead these compounds can easily poison a rabbit.
Some chocolates also contain dairy additives like Milk Chocolate or White chocolate. Dairy can cause Enterotoxemia in pet rabbits which is a severe growth of bad bacteria in their stomach causing gas, soft stools or even GI Stasis.
Here are some other bits of information that I gathered about rabbits and chocolates.
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the Cocoa Pods which are the coco beans. From bean to a chocolate bar, these seeds are dried, fermented, roasted and ground up.
The cocoa bean contains compounds like caffeine and theobromine which are nerve stimulants. Similar to the caffeine in coffee these compounds act on our brain and nervous system.
Although the amount of compounds in chocolate is nothing for us, they are quite a large dose for a rabbit. Chocolate can cause rabbits to lose all nerve fuctions which can even lead to death.
Rabbits also have a tough time digesting chocolates as they contain a high amount of added sugar. This tends to cause gas and gut blockages.
If a rabbit eats chocolate they may develop symptoms withing 3-12 hours but it could take less or more time.
Symptoms like diarrhea, gas and stomach pain are the early signs of chocolate poisoning in rabbits. At this stage the bunny could be saved if they are taken to a rabbit friendly vet who could stabilize their condition.
If no immediate medical care is provided then there is a good chance that the stimulants in chocolate can reach the rabbit’s nervous system and cause major damage like cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.
Rabbits at this stage of chocolate poisoning or beyond can seldom be saved. That is why we should always try to keep our rabbits away from chocolate and keep our vet handy in case of an emergency.
A very small amount of chocolate could be quite dangerous for a rabbit. Nervous stimulants can affect small pets like rabbits in a very short amount of time.
Rabbits should never eat chocolates, its a potent poison for them. An amount less than 0.5 oz to 1 oz can be fatal for an adult rabbit.
Typically a dose of more than 100mg per kg of body weight can be severely dangerous.
Dark chocolates can be much more dangerous as they contain higher and more potent amounts of methylxanthines like caffeine or theobromine.
Milk Chocolate is a combination of dark chocolate and dairy. It is much sweeter and creamier. Although it has much less of the poisonous compounds that are dangerous for pet rabbits, they can still be fatal.
It is also much more pallatable to rabbits as it is sweet. Rabbits can easily gobble up quite a bit of chocolate and that can really be dangerous.
Keep any kind of chocolate product away from the reach of bunny rabbits. An unbreakable rule for rabbit owners.
White Chocolate is not really chocolate, it does not contain any cocoa solids which give chocolate the brown color and chocolate flavor. Instead, it is made by replacing the cocoa solid by milk solids.
This means it contains the least amount of methylxanthines, the neuro-stimulants like caffeine or thrombomine.
Outcomes of white chocolate poisoning cases are often much better than dark chocolate if detected early and critical medical care is provided.
Still, as discussed earlier, prevention is better than cure when it comes to chocolate poisoning in pet rabbits.
The first thing that you should do is to get hold of a rabbit friendly vet. Eating chocolates can potentially be fatal in rabbits, so treat even a little bit of chocolate consumed by a rabbit as an emergency!
Tell your vet the full details of the incident,
Only a vet can determine the right course of treatment in case chocolate poisoning in rabbits. Remember to keep an eye on your rabbit’s behavior to understand the tell tale signs of sickness or pain.
Rabbits are non-vocal animals, they cant make sounds like barks or meows to let their owners know if there are any physical problems. Being prey animals they tend to hide their sickness and cower away from sight.
An early detection of a problem and an accurate diagnosis can mean life or death for a pet rabbit.
A pet rabbit’s digestive system is quite different from us humans. Evolution has shaped a rabbit’s body to perfectly suit their natural habitat in the wild. But this also means that rabbits are unable to eat many things that we humans enjoy on a daily basis.
Some human foods that are toxic for rabbits are
To learn about the perfect rabbit diet check out our article on Pet Rabbit Emergency Care Kit
An effective diet can not only keep your rabbit healthy, it can also extend their lifespan and provide for a enriched living environment.
Now that we know that chocolate is not a good treat for rabbits, then what are some alternative healthy rabbit treats?
Rabbits have digestive systems that are designed to grass and hay as staples, treats that contain sugar should be kept to a minimal. The ideal treat for a rabbit should be a piece of carrot or fruit.
I personally avoid any store bought treats, here are some of the fruits that I offer my rabbit as treats.
Make sure that you keep fruits to less than 10% of your rabbit’s total food intake. Excess treats have been known to cause obesity in rabbits.
The key take away to the question of “Can Rabbits Eat Chocolate?” is definitely a no. Chocolate products can cause severe poisoning in rabbits.
If you would like to learn about other foods that rabbits can and cannot eat then check out one of these articles here
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