When taking care of pets such as rabbits, it is so easy to confuse that what we eat as humans is also good for them. Among the many reasons that separate rabbits from humans lie in the way our digestive systems work. As humans, we can practically eat anything that we like. We can eat greens, meat, carbohydrates, starch and sugar to our heart's content. However, that is not the case for our pet rabbits. As a lagomorph, a rabbit's digestive system can only process cellulose, which means green leafy vegetables and a limited choice of fruits. Food items rich in starch and complex carbohydrates are definitely out of the picture.
Can I Give My Rabbit Bread?
Bread is a prime example of a food item that is loaded with starch and complex carbohydrates. Your pet rabbit will definitely have a hard time digesting bread. Aside from the apparent discomfort of excreting runny stool, intestinal upsets and the potential of suffering from diarrhea, feeding rabbits bread on a daily basis will cause them also to be obese and inactive - 2 possibilities that are detrimental to your pet rabbit's health.
While it is probably acceptable to feed your pet rabbit bread every once in a while as a treat, the portions need to be small and the kind of bread must be factored in as well. White bread, as it is known to be very starchy and high in complex carbohydrates, must be out of the list of treat options for your pet bunny. If it cannot be helped, give a very tiny piece of wheat bread, toasted bread or whole meal bread as a safety precaution.
Now that bread is out of the question, what now are the food choices that are safe for your pet rabbit to eat? First, fresh hay should be a staple in your pet's diet. Even if you notice that your pet bunny has a tendency to overeat, he or she cannot die overeating hay. Hay should make up a significant chunk of your rabbit's spare diet, which is also the reason why they make for low-maintenance companions running in and out of your house. With a generous amount of hay that they can consume daily, they get the essential amount of fiber they need in order to maintain a perfect digestive system. Make sure that when giving your pet rabbit their stash of hay; put it in one corner of their litter box as they might confuse eating their poop and their hay at the same time. Moreover, with a constant abundance of hay, they get to wear down their teeth, which when allowed to grow on its own can negatively impact their lifestyle. Once teeth are allowed to grow longer and sharper than what they should be, it may cut their own tongues, cut the insides of their cheeks and cause tissue abscess.
Second, green leafy vegetables should also form a significant portion of your pet rabbit's daily diet. Aside from scouring the fresh food section of the supermarket for their greens, make sure that the greens you are buying are free from pesticides. Shop for lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, clovers, dill, basil, kale, mint, parsley, water cress and the like for your rabbit's diet. Make sure that not only are these washed to remove any potential amounts of pesticides, the portions should always be small. Pet rabbits are quite easy to please. Unlike dogs that will not stop begging for jerky, meat and treats, rabbits are quite content with a large leaf of water cress or a thumb-sized piece of banana for breakfast. When feeding them their daily dose of greens, try to create a variety and look at how they react to it. Feed your pet rabbit some kale, some parsley and then some celery for a little creativity and variety. For sure, they will love it.
Third, you can give your pet bunny some treats every once in a while. The general rule of thumb when it comes to treats is that these should be given in small portions and as sparingly as possible. Do not let your pets confuse treats with their meals. If there ought to be a 3-tier food triangle for rabbits, the base should be hay, the middle section should be vegetables and the top and smallest portion of the triangle should be treats. A small treat of fruits should cut it as you would not want your pet bunny to overindulge on it. Strawberries, pineapples, apples, bananas, raspberries and mangoes can be given as fruit treats. Even banana peels can be considered a treat that your pet bunny will appreciate.