Why Your Rabbit Shouldn't Eat Dog Food (& Other Off-Limits Foods)

Dog food contains ingredients your rabbit shouldn't eat due to the massive difference in their nutritional needs.

Published June 23, 2023
Domesticated black and white dutch rabbit feeding

Although your pet rabbit might take a nibble here or there, dog food is not appropriate for your bunny to eat. Dog food might even look like it would be OK, but the ingredients aren't anything like your rabbit's normal food. There are much healthier options you should focus on for your rabbit.

Why Dog Food Is Bad for Your Bunny

Rabbits have significantly different dietary requirements compared to dogs. Dog food is high in fats and proteins, and is formulated to meet the needs of carnivorous and omnivorous animals.

On the other hand, rabbits are herbivores, requiring a diet rich in fiber. The primary ingredient in your rabbit's diet should be hay, which provides the necessary fiber for their digestive system to function properly. Dog food lacks this essential fiber and also contains ingredients that can be harmful to rabbits, such as excessive amounts of protein, which your bunny's body can't process.

Feeding dog food to rabbits can also lead to severe health problems, including obesity, digestive issues, and malnutrition. Dog food doesn't provide the necessary vitamins and minerals rabbits require for a healthy life. It's important to feed your rabbit a diet specifically formulated to meet their unique nutritional needs.

Need to Know

Rabbits can't vomit, so they have no choice but to try to digest the food they have eaten once it's swallowed.

What About Cat Food?

Feeding your rabbit cat food is even worse than dog food because cats are obligate carnivores. Cat food is high in protein with a focus on meat, which rabbits can't digest.

Like dog food, cat food not only lacks the necessary fiber, but also the correct balance of vitamins and minerals that rabbits need for optimal health. Consuming cat food can lead to a multitude of health problems in rabbits, including obesity, digestive issues, malnutrition, and even fatal illnesses.

No Wet Food

Crunchy kibble is definitely off your rabbit's menu, but they shouldn't have wet dog food, either. For one thing, it is mushy and doesn't help your rabbit's teeth. It can also cause your rabbit to experience stomach pain and diarrhea, which we absolutely don't want.

What If Your Rabbit Eats Your Other Pets' Food?

Rabbit eating food from bowl

If your bunny happens to get into your cat's or dog's food, it's not likely to do too much damage if they just take a bite or two. If this continues to happen, their diet will be lacking in fiber and they could experience a condition called gastrointestinal stasis.

Basically, this means your bunny's intestinal tract stops moving. This happens when food gets stuck in the gut and starts to ferment, and it can be fatal if it is not treated. If your rabbit isn't pooping, it is a major issue and they must be checked by a veterinarian immediately.

Quick Tip

It can be helpful to feed all of your pets at the same time, as this can reduce your rabbit's curiosity about your dog's food.

Preventing Your Bunny From Eating Dog Food

Preventing rabbits from eating your cat and dog food involves careful management of both their environment and feeding schedule. First, make sure dog food is stored in a secure location that your rabbit doesn't have access to. This might involve using a sealed container or storing the food in a location high off the ground, or in a closed cupboard.

When feeding your dog, monitor them to make sure they finish their food, or remove any leftover food immediately after they're done eating. Avoid free-feeding your dog if your rabbit has free run of the house, because this leaves food available for your rabbit to discover.

It's also important to make sure your rabbit has enough of their own food to eat. If you feed your rabbit an appropriate amount - around ¼ cup of pellets, 2 cups of mixed vegetables, and all the hay they want - they are more likely to be satisfied and less likely to seek out other food sources.

Offer Your Bunny a High-Quality Diet

Rabbits need a diet formulated just for them (plus occasional fresh veggies and treats that are high in fiber) to be happy and healthy. It's up to you to keep them out of your other pets' food bowls. An accidental bite of your dog's or cat's diet most likely isn't a big problem, but be cautious and make sure your bunny can't get at your other pets' food regularly. Stick to feeding your bunny what their body is meant to digest.

Why Your Rabbit Shouldn't Eat Dog Food (& Other Off-Limits Foods)