Can Dogs Eat Rabbit Food? Will it Cause Digestive Issues?

Rabbit food will not harm your dog in any major way. However, any time your dog eats something that’s not part of their regular diet, it may result in digestive issues. Rabbit food does not contain the required nutrients to keep your dog strong and healthy, so don’t use it as your dog’s primary food source. 

If your dog has gotten into your rabbit’s food, you might be wondering how serious it is. Let’s ease your mind right from the start by saying it’s not the end of the world.

What Happens if a Dog Eats Rabbit Food

If a dog eats rabbit food, a few different things can happen. It depends on the individual dog and the amount of food eaten.

Upset Stomach

If your dog gets a hold of a large amount of rabbit food, it may very well lead to an upset stomach, complete with vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Many dogs will get stomach sick if they eat a large amount of any food they’re not used to, even if it’s just a matter of switching kibble brands.

Usually, the situation will resolve itself within a day, but play it safe and call a vet if you’re concerned or if your dog is displaying any of the following symptoms:

  • blood in vomit or stool
  • excessive drooling
  • distended abdomen
  • lethargy
  • difficulty breathing
  • any other troubling signs

Excess Dog Waste

Rabbit food contains much more fiber than dog food and is made up largely of timothy hay.

If your dog has eaten a lot of it, he will likely need extra potty breaks for 2 reasons:

  1. what goes in must come out
  2. fiber cleans things out

Be sure to plan accordingly to avoid any accidents in the house.

Blocked Intestines

As mentioned in the previous section, rabbit food contains a lot of fiber. While most people think of fiber as something that helps move things along in the body, the opposite can sometimes be true.

Fiber needs to be coupled with lots of water, otherwise it can have a binding effect, leading to:

  • constipation
  • intestinal blockages

Ensure that your dog has access to clean, fresh water at all times, but this is especially important if he’s eaten a lot of fiber, as in the case with rabbit food.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Although it’s not common, a dog that eats too much rabbit food for a prolonged period can end up with nutritional deficiencies.

This is because he might very well be neglecting his own food in favor of the rabbit pellets. Rabbits and dogs have completely different nutritional needs, and their food is formulated accordingly.

Allergic Reaction

Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to certain pollen and foods. If your dog is allergic to hay, the main ingredient in rabbit food, there’s a possibility that he’ll have an allergic reaction if he eats any of it.

Keep an eye out for signs of an allergic reaction, such as:

  • trouble breathing
  • excessive drooling
  • red, watery eyes
  • itching
  • coughing
  • red bumps on the skin

If your dog shows any of the above signs after eating rabbit food, get him to a vet right away.

Diabetic Complications

If your dog is diabetic, it’s important to carefully monitor and control everything he eats. If he gets into your rabbit’s food, call your vet.

Your vet will be able to guide you on how to handle it, possibly by:

  • adjusting your dog’s feeding schedule for the day
  • adjusting your dog’s insulin
  • checking your dog’s blood sugar

Remember, a blood sugar spike or crash is bad for anyone, but especially for a dog that’s diabetic. It can lead to all sorts of serious complications, so do your best to prevent it.

Absolutely Nothing

This leads us to the final point, which is the case the majority of the time. If your dog eats rabbit food, nothing will come of it. If you own both rabbits and dogs, there’s a good chance your dogs will eventually eat a few spilled pellets, and there will be no noticeable effects.

Although this is good news, it doesn’t mean that your dog should be eating rabbit food as a regular part of their diet. Make sure to keep your rabbit’s food sealed and secured to keep it fresh and safe from other animals.

The Difference Between Rabbit Food and Dog Food

Dogs are omnivores, and rabbits are herbivores. These two completely different ways of eating result in totally different nutritional needs, which is shown in the commercial food formulated for the two species.

To get an idea of how they differ, let’s take a look at the 3 important macronutrients:

  • protein
  • fat
  • fiber

This will help you understand exactly why it’s not a good idea for your dog to regularly eat large amounts of rabbit food rather than food formulated for canines.

The examples below are taken from random samples of dog and rabbit food. Although different brands and special foods will have slightly different ingredients and nutritional qualities, they’ll all fall somewhere in the same range.

Protein

Dogs require a lot more protein than rabbits, and their food contains over twice as much.

  • Dry dog food: 37%
  • Rabbit pellets: 16%

Protein is crucial for dog health, affecting the muscles, skin, coat, and immune system. If your dog is filling up on rabbit food, he won’t be getting enough protein.

Fat

Although fat gets a bad rap these days, it’s an important part of any diet for humans and dogs alike.

Fat provides the body with energy as well as lubrication for the joints.

  • Dry dog food: 20%
  • Rabbit pellets: 2.5%

Fat is another example of something that dogs need much more of than rabbits – dog food contains almost 10 times as much!

Fiber

Fiber is the one thing that rabbits need much more of than dogs, although dogs need some too.

  • Dry dog food: 3%
  • Rabbit pellets: 20%

Just looking at those numbers, it’s easy to see how eating rabbit food can easily upset a dog’s digestive system, throwing it out of whack.

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Rabbit Food

If your dog is making a habit of eating your rabbit’s food, you might want to find a way to end the behavior. There are a few ways you can go about this.

Secure the Food

The easiest way to keep your dog from eating rabbit food is by keeping it secured and out of its reach.

You can do this by:

  • buying a strong container with a locking lid
  • storing the food up high where he can’t reach it
  • putting up a barrier so the dog can’t reach the food
  • making the rabbit area off-limits to the dog

This method is fast and easy but won’t re-train the dog’s behavior. This means that if you forget to put up the barrier or close up the food one day, he’ll be back at it.

New Food Dish

If your dog isn’t getting into the actual rabbit food supply, but eating spilled food from around the cage, try:

  • buying a heavier, flatter dish that the rabbit can’t knock over
  • rearranging the rabbit’s cage so food can’t be knocked outside

Check the Dog’s Diet

Some dogs will start eating strange things to make up for malnutrition.

Malnutrition can be caused by:

  • Not eating enough
  • Not eating the right food for his body type
  • Parasites
  • Illness
  • Some medications

If your dog is eating rabbit food and anything else he can get his paws on, it might be time to schedule a checkup to determine why.

Training

Training your dog not to eat rabbit food can be a long and difficult process.

But once he’s trained, you won’t have to worry about it. Whereas if you just remove the problem, there’s always the chance that he’ll find a way into the food when you’re not around.

For the most part, you don’t need to be overly concerned if your dog eats a little bit of rabbit food here and there. However, it shouldn’t be a regular part of their diet.

As always, if your dog is showing signs of illness or distress, call your vet right away.

Recommended For You

Share
Pin
Tweet