When it comes to your rabbit’s diet, they mainly enjoy chewing on vast amounts of hay. Not only that, but a rabbit’s favorite treat is a handful of veggies or fruits. When you are trying to find some new foods to give your furry friend something new to try, there are a few things you want to avoid. Anything high in fat, salt, and sugar is all bad for your rabbit’s stomach. But can you feed your rabbit walnuts?
Walnuts are a terrible treat for rabbits. While walnuts are chock full of vitamins and minerals that are useful and healthy for humans to eat, they provide little to no nutritional value for rabbits. In addition, feeding your rabbit too many walnuts can lead to many health risks like indigestion, Hepatic Lipidosis, and obesity.
As you continue to read this article, we will talk more about the health risks of feeding too many walnuts to your rabbit. Along with that, we will be giving you some other food options to feed your rabbit and some to avoid as well.
What Are Walnuts?
A walnut is what you would call a seed that grows from any of the drupe tree species. This means walnuts are not considered to be a botanical nut. The same thing happens for peanuts as well; peanuts are part of the legume family like peas and kidney beans and thus not a true nut either.
With that said, walnuts are filled to the brim with tons of vitamins and minerals. Walnuts contain vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Along with these vitamins, walnuts are also high in zinc, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, and more. All of these vitamins and minerals are incredibly healthy for humans to consume in moderation.
While walnuts are a solid choice for a healthy snack for humans, they are not an excellent choice for rabbits. Altho the vitamins in walnuts are nutritional for rabbits, the delivery of said vitamins in the walnuts is what makes it bad for rabbits. In addition, walnuts are incredibly high in fat, which is extremely difficult for rabbits to digest in large amounts.
Can Rabbits Eat Walnuts?
While walnuts are not toxic or deadly to rabbits, feeding them too many walnuts will cause health issues. So if you are eating some walnuts and drop one on the floor and your rabbit eats it, they will be completely fine. However, it is best to avoid feeding any nut to your rabbits.
You want to avoid feeding nuts to your rabbit due to the type of fat that is carried in said nuts. Walnuts and most other nuts carry monounsaturated fats, which for rabbits translates into lung or chest fat. The more monounsaturated fat your rabbit digests, the more it will build up as extra fat around the lung area. Too much of this type of fat will cause respiratory issues making it much harder for them to breathe.
Something else to note is walnuts have a small amount of fiber in them. Rabbits almost entirely survive on fiber. They need it to stay healthy, keep their stool solid, support beneficial gut bacteria, and help them feel satiated. As you can see, fiber is essential to a rabbit’s regular diet. However, walnuts contain starch which acts against the rabbit’s whole digestive process.
Not only that, but rabbits also need the food they eat to contain cellulose to keep their stomach working correctly. Overeating food that does not contain any cellulose will lead to health problems. With that said, walnuts and all other nuts contain almost no cellulose.
What Happens If My Rabbit Eats Too Many Walnuts?
As previously stated, if your rabbit gets to a walnut or two, it is not the end of the world. The problem comes when rabbits eat walnuts, or any nut for that matter, regularly or if they eat a bunch of them in one sitting.
Walnuts Can Cause Indigestion
Indigestion causes a very uncomfortable feeling in your gut. Due to the extremely high amounts of fat contained in a walnut and very little fiber can cause a blockage if eaten in larger quantities. Any foods high in fat should always be avoided when feeding your rabbits. Rabbits should avoid fatty foods because their stomachs do not process high amounts of fat very well.
Walnuts Can Cause Hepatic Lipidosis
Once again, the high amounts of fat in walnuts can lead to blockage in and slowing down the digestive tract of your rabbit. This can have many adverse effects on your rabbit’s health. This blockage will cause your rabbit not to want to eat when it usually would. For example, suppose your rabbit continues not to eat regularly or is in constant pain from indigestion. In that case, they can start developing excess fat on their liver.
Hepatic Lipidosis is the buildup of excess fat on the liver. While extra liver fat development can come from many different sources, anorexia and stress are the most common causes. Your rabbit can become anorexic due to a blockage in its gut caused by the fats in walnuts. This blockage will cause stress and pain, which can lead to the development of this disease.
Hepatic Lipidosis can develop fast and can become life-threatening fairly quickly. Be on the lookout for these signs:
- Loss of appetite – may be sudden or gradual
- Weight loss
- A decline in the number and size of droppings
- Dehydration – Skin tightness and loss of elasticity
Walnuts Can Cause Your Rabbit To Become Obese
Any high-fat food, like walnuts, can cause your rabbits to gain tons of excess weight. While obesity is not a condition in itself, there are plenty of side effects that come with it. Some side effects caused by obesity can even be life-threatening.
Some significant side effects that come with obesity include:
- Pododermatitis: Inflammation of the skin and footpads due to the inability to properly groom
- Sticky Bottom Syndrome: Occurs when the rabbit’s bottom becomes caked with droppings. It is usually caused due to overfeeding or improper diets.
- Pregnancy Toxemia (Ketosis): A condition that affects pregnant or lactating female rabbits when their dietary intake does not meet their nutritional requirements.
- G.I. Stasis: Caused due to blockage in the digestive tract, generally because your rabbit is not eating enough fiber and too many carbs or fats.
What Foods Should I Avoid Giving To My Rabbit?
Rabbits have a very sensitive digestive tract. Because of how sensitive it is, a rabbit’s diet is relatively strict. A rabbit’s primary food source should always be high in fiber and low in fat and carbs. With that said, below is a list of foods that you should avoid feeding your rabbit.
- Yogurt Drops
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Hamster Food
- Peanut Butter
- Cat Food
- Dog Food
All of these foods listed above should be avoided when feeding your rabbits. Rabbits should avoid each of these foods for different reasons. For instance, avocados and all of the nuts are incredibly high in fat. At the same time, iceberg lettuce contains a lactucarium chemical, which can be harmful to your rabbit.
What Are Some Treats That You Should Give Your Rabbit Instead Of Walnuts
There are a vast amount of other healthy treats that you can give your rabbit instead of walnuts. Even though your rabbit might like nuts, you should consider them to be the equivalent of junk food for rabbits. They provide almost no nutritional value and cause more harm than good. With that said, here is a list of healthy alternatives:
- Carrot Tops
- Summer Squash
- Winter Squash
- Bell Peppers
- Beat Tops
- Apples (no seeds)
- Cherries (no seeds)
These are all healthy treats that you can give your rabbit instead of walnuts. However, some of these should be given sparingly, like fruits and vegetables, no more than once or twice a week.
Walnuts, and every other type of nut, should not be fed to your rabbits. With that said, they are not toxic, and if you accidentally feed one or your rabbit gets to one, it will not harm them. However, regularly eating nuts can cause many different side effects.