Chocolate is extremely harmful to all animals and should be avoided at all costs, but what do you do if your rabbit consumes some?
If your rabbit ate just a small morsel of chocolate, they will most likely be fine. However, one ounce (about the size of a small meatball) or more of chocolate can prove deadly to your rabbit. If this much is eaten, you should immediately see the vet so they can flush your rabbit’s stomach.
It may be stressful to know that your rabbit has eaten some chocolate, but don’t worry. Here are some things to be aware of when your rabbit has ingested some chocolate and what to do.
How Much Chocolate Is Harmful?
This entirely depends on how big your rabbit is. An ounce of chocolate is deadly to a rabbit that is as small as five pounds. The weight of your rabbit is important when it comes to how much chocolate they actually consumed.
There will be different consequences for eating spare morsel versus a chocolate square the size of a grape. A larger rabbit can withstand the symptoms brought on by chocolate, but to a smaller rabbit, it can be deadly.
To find out how big various breeds of rabbits can get see the pet rabbit growth chart here.
Each type of chocolate has different levels of potency because each one contains different levels of cocoa. Dark chocolate has the most potency because of its high levels of cocoa in it, which is the deadliest flavor for rabbits.
Milk chocolate and white chocolate are more diluted with sugar, which can be less scary and harmful for rabbits but should still be taken seriously when consumed in large quantities.
Symptoms Shown When They Eat Chocolate
It is important to note that some symptoms may show up within minutes of the rabbit consuming chocolate, and other times symptoms may not show up until twenty to twenty-four hours after eating chocolate.
If you catch them eating chocolate, immediately assess how much was consumed. If you are uncertain, take them to the vet immediately.
Some common symptoms to take into consideration are that a rabbit will catch a fever; they will feel abnormally warm and almost clammy to the touch, it will be obvious and noticeable. They will be uneasy on their own feet and may not be able to stand at all; they’ll walk almost as if in a haze and not be as energetic or upbeat.
You may notice that they aren’t going to the bathroom as often if at all, which can indicate that the chocolate is stuck and they haven’t consumed anything else and are blocked. Another common symptom is labored breathing. It almost looks as if they are panting, struggling to expand their lungs. Any one of these symptoms means that an immediate visit to the vet is needed.
What Does Chocolate Contain That Is Harmful?
The most potent element contained within chocolate that is poisonous to all rabbits is theobromine. Theobromine is essentially caffeine contained within the cocoa plant. It can be found in other things such as the leaves of a tea plant and the kola nut. It is a naturally produced form of caffeine and is what makes chocolate have a bitter taste.
As stated earlier, dark chocolate contains more amounts of cocoa than milk chocolate, which means it contains more theobromine than other forms of chocolate. Rabbits are not supposed to naturally consume caffeine, it is not part of their dietary needs, therefore it is extremely poisonous for them to consume.
Caffeine causes the heart to race, which is harmful to small creatures such as rabbits because their hearts are so small and can cause their hearts to burst from the pressure. It is paramount that if you know what kind and how much chocolate your rabbit has eaten, they are immediately tended in order to get them back to feeling better as soon as possible.
What Happens at the Vet?
As soon as your rabbit is at the vet, what they will do is flush your bunny’s stomach out. Rabbits actually don’t and can’t throw up. When you take your dog to the vet after they’ve eaten chocolate, they induce vomiting to push it out.
This is not the case for rabbits. They will try to “flush” it out using water to help push it through their system.
After trying to force it out, they then start treating the symptoms your rabbit may have. Caffeine causes their heart to beat faster than normal, so the vet will begin to treat cardiac arrhythmia. By first treating this symptom, it will help your rabbit to no longer have a fever because the heart isn’t pumping as quickly and their body won’t be fighting what it thinks is an infection.
It may take an entire day for the chocolate to pass through your furry friend, so be patient and allow the vet to give your rabbit the care it needs.
Alternatives to Chocolate for Treats
Now that we know that rabbits cannot consume chocolate, there are so many other alternatives your rabbit can have that are safer and will make them feel much better.
If your rabbit has more of a sweet tooth, consider feeding them fruits. Fruits have natural sugars that taste way better than chocolate. Of course, these need to be done in moderation as well, since the natural sugar can also be harmful to their overall health. Some favorite fruits among rabbits are oranges, apples with no seeds, bananas, grapes, and melons.
Vegetables are also great alternative treats for rabbits. Carrots are always a fan favorite for rabbits. They love being able to bite off morsels and hear the crunch of a carrot. Oddly enough, rabbits can actually taste flavors, and carrots come across as earthy and woody to them, which they tend to prefer over other flavors.
Rabbits can be picky when it comes to the treats they want, so pay attention to their behavior and what they eat the most when you’re trying to find them the best treat for their dietary needs. Any other treat besides chocolate, even ones bought at the pet store, are much better alternatives and help to keep them healthy.
More Important Information
- Checklist: What to Do if Your Rabbit Eats a Poisonous Plant – One of the most deadly killers of pet rabbits is house plants. Believe it or not, you could have a house plant within reach of your rabbit right now that might be deadly to them. Find out which common house plants are deadly, and what you should do if your rabbit eats one of them.
- Can Rabbits Eat Food Coloring or Is It Toxic? – This article not only answers the question of whether you should be afraid of your rabbit eating food coloring or not but what some other very common household substances to avoid are. You may not realize that these things can kill your rabbit and I bet you have them in your home right now.