Can bunnies eat chocolate safely? No, your rabbit should not be consuming any chocolate at all. This is due to the caffeine and theobromine in chocolate. In fact, if you catch your bunny eating chocolate, treat it as an emergency.
But before we go into this fully, let’s look at chocolate for bunnies in more detail.
Is Chocolate Safe for Bunnies?
We all enjoy giving our pets something new and different to eat. But not everything that is good for us is good for our pets.
Especially when it comes to candy.
Still our bunnies may find their way to chocolate. Whether we’ve deliberately offered them or they’ve eaten chocolate accidentally, we need to know what’s safe.
So, the all important question is: Can rabbits eat chocolate?
Rabbits cannot eat chocolate safely. Your bun has a completely different digestive system — evolved to subsist on grass and hay.
As a result, some substances in chocolate, your buns stomach just isn’t built to handle. The Easter bunny might bring us chocolate, but real bunnies can’t deal with it.
While it’s a safe treat for humans, rabbits and chocolate don’t have nearly as good a relationship.
Bunnies and Chocolate
A healthy rabbit diet consists of grasses, leaves, tree barks, and even roots. They’re natural herbivores. This means they eat veggies like lettuce and cabbage, as well as grains, seeds, and nuts. However, hays should form the most significant portion of their diet.
Chocolate, on the other hand is a sweet treat derived from cocoa beans. People have been making and eating different varieties of chocolate for hundreds of years.
This candy has a rich history in many cultures, and plenty of us would count it among our favorite foods.
What Chocolate Does to Bunnies
So, chocolate is consumed and enjoyed by most people, but can bunnies eat chocolate?
As we’ve seen, the answer is no. Chocolate is unfortunately quite a potent rabbit poison. This is because chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine. These chemicals can do serious damage to your rabbit.
Theobromine and caffeine are both methylxanthines and affect rabbits in very similar ways. These two chemicals stimulate rabbits’ nervous system. They also cause dehydration and increase your buns heart rate. Other dangerous effects include increasing calcium levels in the heart and skeletal muscles. This can cause seizures and arrhythmias.
Bunnies that have consumed chocolate can overheat, experience heart attacks, and even suffer respiratory failure.
Methylxanthines are therefore toxic to rabbits; they’re not adapted to them in any way. There’s much more theobromine than caffeine in chocolate, but still enough caffeine to add to the negative effects.
Take note: Can bunnies eat chocolate? No they can’t!
Just how much chocolate it takes to put a rabbits life in danger can depend on its weight.
Less than 1 oz of milk chocolate could prove fatal to a 6 pound rabbit. This small amount may be eaten quickly if left out around your bunny.
Keep in mind though, that not all chocolate is equal when it comes to methylxanthine content. Dark chocolate can contain three times the theobromine and caffeine of milk chocolate, making it much more dangerous.
This doesn’t make milk or even white chocolate comparatively safe, but it does make dark chocolate a real risk indeed.
Why Do Bunnies Like Chocolate?
Simply put, they don’t know any better. Bunnies are not picky eaters and they’re happy to munch on whatever you place in front of them.
So, it’s our responsibility as pet parents to look out for them.
Is Chocolate Bad for Bunnies?
Needless to say, chocolate is absolutely bad for rabbits. You should go to any lengths necessary to keep your bun away from this dangerous food item.
Chocolate is a man-made food, so there’s no reason to expect rabbits would deal with it well.
A lot of the things we eat regularly, our pets just can’t handle. Rabbits subsist on a diet of mainly hay, so their digestive systems are very different to ours.
Although there is a possibility that a minute amount of chocolate would be fine, I wouldn’t risk it. Even very low levels of theobromine administered over long periods have caused death in tests.
Our final answer to the question “can rabbits have chocolate?” is a firm no.
Can Bunnies Eat White Chocolate
As we discussed earlier, it’s best to avoid all kinds of chocolate. While white chocolate contains insignificant levels of theobromine, it is still largely unsafe for rabbits. If your rabbit eats white chocolate in large amounts, they could still become sick.
We recommend being safe and steering clear of all things chocolate for rabbits — dark, milk, white, or otherwise.
So, if despite your best efforts you end up in the worst possible scenario — “My rabbit ate chocolate,” — what do you do? You may want to scroll down right away to find the answer below.
My Bunny Ate Chocolate, What Should I Do?
What if you didn’t know the answer to can bunnies eat chocolate was no? You only found out after already feeding your bunny chocolate? Here’s what you should do: Act now!
If you see your rabbit eating chocolate, don’t delay. Do not assume your bunny will be fine just because they don’t display any symptoms.
If your rabbit ate chocolate, it may take 6-12 hours for clinical signs to develop, but they could also come on much quicker.
The first obvious signs of poisoning are usually vomiting and diarrhea. If you can get your rabbit to a vet before symptoms appear, he’ll have a greater chance of recovery.
Once the chocolate is in your rabbit’s system they’ll need veterinary attention as soon as possible. Any delay could be the difference between life and death for your bun.
Get to the Vet!
Your vet may be able to counteract the toxic effects of the theobromine and caffeine.
Making sure your rabbit has sufficient fluids in the interim can also help with poisoning. Water will help your bun flush out some of the dangerous chemicals.
Chocolate poisoning in rabbits is treated in the same way as with most other animals. The vet will first treat any serious symptoms, like seizures and cardiac arrhythmia.
Once the rabbit is stable, your vet will try to clear your rabbit of the methylxanthines and it may be quite a while until your rabbit is healthy again.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The best case scenario is one where you prevent your rabbit from eating chocolate in the first place. If your bunny ate chocolate, make you sure you get it to a vet as soon as possible.
Alternatives to Chocolate for Bunnies
Now you’ve gotten the answer to the question “can rabbits eat chocolate” — no. What other options are there for bunny sweet treats? Rather than feed them dangerous chocolate, here are some sweet alternatives to feed your bunny.
Remember though that sweet things for animals should always be in moderation. These should never make up the bulk of your bunny’s diet. Here are some options:
- Carrots: in moderation.
- Bananas: in moderation.
- Apples: in moderation and cut up in chunks. No seeds, stems, and core.
- Oranges: as occasional sweet treats only.
Can Bunnies Eat Chocolate: Summary
Once more just to make sure?
Can bunnies eat chocolate? No, they cant! Rabbits cannot eat chocolate. If you’re wondering “is chocolate bad for rabbits?” the answer is a definite yes.
Always check before you feed your rabbit something unusual. Anything other than hay is a departure from your furry friends normal diet.
Food poisoning for animals is fairly common, and chocolate is a popular culprit. The ASPCA’s animal poison control center receives 39 calls about chocolate poisoning a day.
Most of these are dog owners, but thankfully bunnies aren’t as prone to eating everything in sight as dogs.
If you find yourself in the worst case — “my bunny ate chocolate” — scenario, make sure you get in touch with your vet.
Bunnies and chocolate just don’t mix.
Has your bunny ever eaten chocolate? You can let us know about your experiences with bunnies and chocolate in the comments below.
References and Further Reading
- MSD Manual, Veterinary Manual. Chocolate Toxicity. Gwaltney-Brant, S. M., DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT, University of Illinois
- ASPCAPRO Top 10 poisons 2016
- ASPCAPRO How to treat chocolate ingestion
- Dark chocolate USDA Food composition database
- Toxic effects of theobromine on mature and immature male rabbits M G Soffieti, C Nebbia,F Valenza, S Amedeo, et al.
- Milk chocolate USDA food composition database
Can Bunnies Eat Chocolate has been extensively revised for 2019.