Can Rabbits Eat Bread? Is it Safe? 

Bread is one of my very favorite foods. I love all kinds of bread, with all sorts of ingredients, toppings, and more. And based on how often people feed bread to animals, in captivity or in the wild, most critters seem to like it too.

collage of rabbits eating various foods
collage of rabbits eating various foods

But when you think about it, there is no food that any animal would be less likely to naturally eat than that. If it wasn’t for humans making it, none of them would!

But just because animals, including our rabbits, like bread and will happily eat it, that doesn’t mean it is safe for them. So, what’s the truth? Can rabbits eat bread, and is it safe?

No, bread is not safe for rabbits in any quantity! Bread is a nutritional disaster for bunnies and highly likely to cause various gastrointestinal tract problems that can have fatal consequences. Avoid feeding bread to them for any reason.

If you know a little bit about the biology of rabbits and their unique nutritional requirements, it’s easy to see why bread is such a bad idea. Every single ingredient in bread is something that they should avoid, and combining them doesn’t make bread any safer!

That really is all you need to know, I promise, but if you want to learn more about the “why” and the risks I’ll tell you about it just below.

Do Rabbits Like Bread?

Yes, most rabbits seem to like bread. It smells good, it tastes good, and rabbits are attracted to carb-laden foods even if they shouldn’t be. Sounds a lot like people, now that I think about it…

Jokes aside, this is just another reason why you must never give them bread: they will likely develop a taste for it and eat as much as they can get. If they like it too much, they might hold off on eating other foods, all in an attempt to get more bread out of you. I’ve seen it before!

Is Bread a Healthy Food for Rabbits?

No, bread is not healthy or good for rabbits in any way whatsoever. Bread is nothing more than highly processed carbohydrates in the form of grains, and rabbits don’t need grains in their diet at all!

This is the primary consideration, but beyond that bread also contains so many ingredients that are just indigestible or outright harmful for rabbits. This makes it a total loss nutritionally. It is actively and overtly harmful for rabbits…

The advertised or analyzed nutrient content of any given type of bread might lead you to believe otherwise, considering you’ll see vitamins and minerals on there that rabbits need, but the indigestibility of it means that they will never be able to make use of those same nutrients.

Worse, feeding your rabbits bread can so easily upset their digestive tract, as we will learn. That outcome means they might not be able to get nutrients out of other foods they eat with bread, or eat afterward.

Bread Contains Animal Proteins Which Rabbits Can’t Handle

Everyone knows that bread contains grains of one kind or another, sure, but do you know what else bread contains?

Lots of stuff that rabbits cannot digest by their very nature! I’m talking about animal proteins: typically in the form of eggs but sometimes milk and, depending on the type of bread and how it’s prepared, cheese.

Rabbits are purely herbivores, and more than this they are herbivores with a highly specialized diet. This is because their digestive tract is designed to extract nutrition from mass amounts of food that is, ordinarily, not very nutritious for most other animals.

Not only will much of the nutrient content in bread be inaccessible to them because of this, but the bulk of bread is itself indigestible and will cause other problems. More on that in the very next section.

What Problems Can Bread Cause for Rabbits?

Bread will cause all kinds of problems for your poor rabbits, and often multiple, serious problems that can easily turn fatal.

For starters, assuming, and this is a theoretical assumption more than a practical one, that bread doesn’t cause any overt and immediate harm to a bunny the extreme number of calories and high amount of sugars will facilitate unhealthy weight gain and eventually obesity. This outcome includes its own subset of health issues that we won’t go into here.

More than that, the sheer indigestibility of bread and its animal protein content will immediately cause dramatic problems with bowel movements.

This often manifests as runny stools and often serious diarrhea. These are the first signs of big trouble, but also major problems in their own right; either can rapidly dehydrate a rabbit.

Then we get to the “main event,” of sorts: bread will cause a major disruption of the delicately balanced gut flora that they depend on to ferment, digest and get nutrients from food.

Many kinds of bacteria and other microorganisms, particularly those living in the cecum, can be harmed by or start to multiply excessively due to the ingestion of starchy, sugary carb-heavy foods. Foods like… bread.

This is a nasty one-two punch for a rabbit: on the one hand, they won’t be able to extract nutrition from other foods that they eat, while on the other certain types of bacteria will produce too much gas.

Gas Bloating Caused by Eating Bread Can Kill Rabbits

Gas buildup, or bloat, is incredibly serious because rabbits do not have a way to expel this gas as other mammals do. The buildup of gas will cause intense discomfort or agonizing pain, and eventually, it can cause death.

Serious cases of bloat invariably require intervention and then follow-up care from a vet in order to save their life and then, hopefully, stabilize the gut biome so they can start eating normally again.

If this sounds like a terrible price for a rabbit to pay for eating the wrong things, including bread, you are quite right. But they cannot disobey their instinct to eat bread!

You should know that your rabbit depends on you to look after it, and the biggest part of looking after it is giving it the foods that it needs to thrive, not the ones that taste best or will make it feel good in the short term.

How Often Can Rabbits Eat Bread?

Never. Seriously, never give your rabbits bread.

However, if your rabbit manages to steal a few nibbles of cracker or a crust of bread, chances are good you don’t have anything to worry about.

If you know it occurred, just keep an eye on them and see if they start acting differently: ignoring other food, bowel movements starting to change for the worse, and also listening closely for a gurgling sound coming from their stomach. Any are a sign that something is going wrong and can be early signs of gas buildup.

If this occurs and they don’t get better quickly, get them to the vet straight away.

Bread is Very Harmful for Bunnies

In case you were wondering, bread is even more harmful for baby bunnies. Baby rabbits have digestive systems that take a very long time to develop and stabilize so they can have solid food of any kind. Even the best foods for them can cause problems if they have them too early!

Accordingly, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how giving them quite literally one of the very worst foods possible in this vulnerable, delicate stage of life could cause irreparable harm.

If you don’t want your precious bunny to go through the agonizing ordeal I outlined above, don’t give them bread. It’s that simple…

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