If you are a proud owner of both a rabbit and a dog, this question may have come to mind.
Rabbits should not eat dog food. Since rabbits are herbivores and should eat plant-based food, dog food that is rich in fat, meat-based protein, and carbohydrates may only make them feel bad and be harmful to their health.
Should Rabbits Eat Dog Food?
No, it’s not healthy for rabbits to eat dog food.
As we said in the introductory part, rabbits are herbivores, which means they eat plants, not meat. Although dogs are omnivores and should eat meat and veggies, processed dog food is rich in meat among other stuff ( such as grains, and fillers) which is definitely not good for rabbits.
A rabbit’s digestive system is totally different from a dog’s and doesn’t have enzymes that can digest meat.
Can Rabbits Eat A Dry Dog Food?
The answer is negative, again. Rabbits should not eat dog food even if it’s dry.
Actually, only dry dog food might be a real temptation for your bunny. If he/she comes across wet dog food I honestly doubt that he/she would even look at it.
Bunnies don’t really like the smell of meat although they are not really able to determine if some food is good or bad for them, that’s why they might try to graze some of your dog’s pellets.
Can Rabbits Eat Dog Treats and Biscuits?
The main ingredients of dog treats and biscuits are fat, carbohydrates, meat protein, and fiber. Except for fiber, other ingredients are something that your rabbit doesn’t need nor can digest. Dog food generally contains only 2-4% of fiber which is a lot less than a rabbit needs, so dog treats or biscuits are not even a good fiber source for your rabbit.
Also do think about the shape of dog treats. They might look like rabbit pellets but a rabbit needs a high-fiber grassy material food in order to keep his teeth healthy ( among other things). So one big NO for feeding your rabbit with dog treats and biscuits.
How Does The Rabbit’s Digestive System Works?
Rabbits have a unique digestive system. Unlike other animals, they have quite a large stomach for their body size. The reason for that is so they can eat large amounts of plants quickly.
Crepuscular animals like rabbits are usually eating at dawn and dusk. So they graze in the morning and early evening. Meanwhile, they really don’t have to eat, as they sleep in most cases.
The digestion process starts in the mouth with the help of front and back teeth (incisors and molars). After the food is chewed in small particles and swallowed rushes through the esophagus and stomach.
We come now to a miraculous part of the rabbit’s digestive system – a blind sac called the Cecum. This part is located in the same place as the Appendix in humans. Unlike Appendix, Cecum has a great role in food digestion.
The cecum is placed where the small intestine meets the large one. This thing is full of good bacteria and other stuff such as yeast to help in digesting food. When digested food passes through the small intestine and goes towards Cecum and the large intestine, the digestive system knows if that food should go to the large intestine and further to the anus and out or needs to go to Cecum.
If the food is totally digested, continues to the large intestine and will come out in the shape of small coin size balls, pretty dry and without a bad smell.
If the food is not digested and can be broken down further goes to Cecum. There happens the magic. Good bacteria and other microorganisms turn fibers and plant-based proteins into digestible nutrients.
These nutrients can be used only if they pass through the digestive system again. That is why the material from Cecum comes out in the shape of moist and soft pellets called cecotropes.
Cecotropes usually come out 8 hours after the meal. The bunny gets the sign from the brain that these valuable pellets are about to come out and he waits for them. Your rabbit will eat cecotropes most probably directly from his anus.
You might be able to see very few cecotropes during your rabbit’s life. If it happens that you run into a large number of them in the cage, consider this a red flag. Either your rabbit’s diet is very rich in proteins or he has some serious health issues. Both are good reasons to seek for vet’s help.
What Happens If My Bunny Eats Dog Food?
If you would like to know more about the side effects of dog food on your rabbit’s health do read our article ”What happens if my bunny eats dog food?”
How To Know My Bunny Ate Dog Food?
If you are not sure that your bunny ate something potentially harmful like dog food but you doubt it, pay special attention to your furry pet and take him/her to the vet if you spot any of these symptoms :
- Loose stool/diarrhea
- Restless or lethargic behavior
- Glassy eyes
- Increased water intake
If you don’t notice any of the above, do offer your rabbit his/her favorite treat. If he/she is not interested in getting it then something is wrong and you should consult a vet.
Rabbits are herbivores. They need a lot of fibers and that should get from good quality hay, a limited amount of formulated pellets, and leafy, dark green vegetables. You won’t find any of these things in dog food, at least not in proper amounts. So rabbits should not eat dog food.
Cat food also is not recommended for rabbits, same as mice or rats food( they also eat meat). Hamster food wouldn’t have enough nutrients for bunnies and guinea pig food would be too rich in vitamin C which can potentially create a problem for rabbits.
Bottom line, feed your bunnies with high-quality hay, limited portions of pellets rich in fibers, and dark green, leafy vegetables. A very small amount of safe fruits occasionally is just fine, as a treat. Don’t let your rabbit eat any other pet food.