Should We Share Our Favorite Sweet Treat With Our Fluffy Friends?
Rabbits may look super fluffy and cute on the outside, but on the inside, they’ve got an incredibly tough digestive system. With an otherworldly ability to metabolize nutrients, it’s what allows them to adapt to so many natural environments.
Wherever they are, those adorable, twitchy little noses will always sniff something out that they can have a nibble on.
However, despite the flexibility of their digestive system, they’re by no means capable of eating all the same things that we, the bunny parents, do. One food item in particular that needs to be kept away from our fluffy children is chocolate.
I know, I know…it’s not fair. Chocolate is objectively one of the tastiest treats in the world, and it’s a darn shame that we can’t share it with our rabbits, but to them, it’s less tasty and more, well…poisonous.
So, even though the most chocolatey of holidays, Easter, is fronted by a bunny, the animal has no natural connection to the sweet treat whatsoever — crazy, I know.
How Toxic is Chocolate to Rabbits?
To answer your inquiry as bluntly as possible…very! Like, seriously…don’t give your rabbit chocolate. Even if your little fluff ball only scoffed a crumb or two of the good stuff, you should consider it a code-red emergency and contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Bunnies are staunch herbivores, which is to say, they only eat vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, grass, and hay — that’s why Peter Rabbit’s favorite food is radish.
Chocolate is derived from the cocoa bean that grows on the Theobroma cacao tree, and the finished product contains tons of caffeine and something known as theobromine. Both of these substances fall under the umbrella categorization, methylxanthines, and can even be toxic to humans if ingested in large quantities.
The fluffy tum of a rabbit simply can’t handle these harsh substances, so if you have reason to believe your little hopper has indulged in some chocolate, you need to keep a close eye on them and look out for symptoms.
If you want to treat your bunny rabbit to something tasty that won’t harm them, I recommend something like these scrumptious, carrot-flavored Vitakraft slims.
What Symptoms Will a Rabbit Exhibit After Eating Chocolate?
Methylxanthines overstimulate the nervous system of a rabbit, which can lead to a number of symptoms, including an increased heart rate, overheating, and severe dehydration.
These nasty substances can also trigger a dangerous increase in calcium levels in both the skeletal muscles and heart, which can cause arrhythmias and seizures.
The fatal blow normally comes in the form of heart or respiratory failure.
How Much Chocolate is Fatal to Rabbits?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you one clear-cut answer as to how much chocolate is fatal for a bunny rabbit, as there are a lot of variables involved. Let’s take a look at them to give you a better understanding of the danger.
Type of Chocolate
Different chocolates have different levels of methylxanthines, which means some are far more dangerous than others, namely, dark chocolate. As dark chocolate is less refined, it typically contains as much as three times the caffeine and theobromine as milk and white chocolate.
That’s not to say that milk or white chocolate is a suitable snack for your fluffy bundle of joy; it absolutely isn’t! It’s just that dark chocolate poses a much more severe risk, so in the tragic event that your bunny does eat some chocolate, here’s hoping it was milk or white.
Simply put, the larger the rabbit, the better chance it has of surviving the chocolatey incident. It’s sort of like how bigger humans can drink more alcohol before feeling drunk. The body just has more resources to deal with it, and the poison is spread thinner, so if your bunny’s an absolute chunker, it has the best possible chance of survival.
Generally speaking, it’s thought that as little as 1oz of chocolate will be fatal for bunnies of 5lbs or less.
Another important factor when it comes to fatal doses of chocolate is the bunny in question’s ability to metabolize what’s been consumed. If their internal mechanisms are robust and act quickly, they will neutralize the threat, while slower metabolisms give the poison free rein to do some serious damage.
My Rabbit Has Eaten Chocolate. What Should I Do?
If your fluffy child has eaten chocolate, it can be stressful, but you must try to stay level-headed, as animals are very sensitive to mood, especially if you’ve had the bunny in question long enough to have formed a strong bond.
Contact your vet as soon as you can, as they’ll book you in for an appointment, give you professional guidance, or both. Try to divulge as much information as possible. If you know how much, what kind, and when the chocolate was eaten, tell your vet. They’ll be able to tailor their advice to your exact situation.
Go ahead and cancel any plans you had, as you’ll need to spend the next couple of days keeping a close eye on your rabbit’s behavior and wellbeing. Symptoms can take up to 12 hours to develop after the chocolate has been consumed.
Do your best to keep your rabbit nice and cool, and give it plenty of water, so they won’t overheat or dehydrate as they metabolize the toxins. And don’t forget to check their heart rate every now and again in case it’s beating abnormally fast.
With any luck, your rabbit will be fighting fit again in a few days to a week.
Summing Up – Chocolate, the Brown Death
I know it’s only natural to want to share lovely things with your pet rabbit, but when it comes to chocolate, we need to be selfish and keep it all to ourselves. Rabbits simply can’t eat it.
It’s highly poisonous, even in small doses, so if you suspect that your rabbit has eaten any, contact a vet immediately and don’t let them out of your sight for a few days at the very least.
Keep them cool, keep them hydrated, check their heart rate, and hope for the best.