Can Rabbits Have Rhubarb? Examining the Risks of Tart Treats

HomeDietCan Rabbits Have Rhubarb? Examining the Risks of Tart Treats

No, rabbits should not have rhubarb as it is toxic to them. Rhubarb contains oxalates, which can cause kidney and bladder problems in rabbits. Rhubarb leaves, in particular, are more toxic than the stems and can cause drooling, weakness, and convulsions. If your rabbit has ingested rhubarb, seek veterinary help immediately.

What is Rhubarb?

You may not be familiar with rhubarb, but it’s a plant in the Polygonaceae family. It’s best known for its tart flavor and is often cooked down into pies and other desserts. Rhubarb has been used as medicine for centuries, though it must be harvested correctly to do so safely.

In modern times, most growers of rhubarb practice organic farming methods, which help to maximize the safety of their crop and ensure that wild harvesting practices are also taken into account. Rhubarb plants can grow up to four feet tall and have large green leaves that are sometimes used in cooking as well.

The stalks of this plant are usually bright red or pink in color, but they can vary depending on the particular variety grown. Rhubarb stalks contain oxalic acid, which makes them very sour. However, when cooked down with sugar, they become much more palatable.

Rhubarb should not be consumed raw due to its oxalic acid content, as it can cause severe digestive upset if ingested in large amounts. Additionally, the leaves of rhubarb plants contain even higher levels of oxalic acid and should never be consumed due to their potential toxicity.

As such, rabbits should not consume any part of the rhubarb plant because of its potential health risks associated with consuming raw or improperly prepared parts of this plant species. For humans who wish to enjoy the unique flavor offered by rhubarb plants, it’s important to only purchase organically grown varieties from trusted sources and always cook them thoroughly before consumption.

When prepared properly under these conditions, rhubarb can make an interesting addition to many dishes without posing any threat whatsoever to human health or wellbeing.

Reasons Why Rabbits Shouldn’t Have Rhubarb

Due to its potential toxicity, it’s best for rabbits to avoid rhubarb entirely. Rhubarb is a vegetable that has been used in cooking and baking for centuries but can be detrimental to a rabbit’s health. The leaves of the plant contain oxalic acid which can be dangerous when consumed by rabbits. Oxalic acid binds with calcium in the body and causes calcium deficiency, leading to renal failure and other health issues.

Additionally, there are dietary risks associated with feeding rhubarb to rabbits as it doesn’t provide any nutritional benefits they need. A rabbit’s diet should primarily consist of hay, water, fresh vegetables, and pellets specifically designed for their nutrition needs. Feeding them anything else could cause them serious harm or even death if not monitored closely.

As such, they should not have access to any food items that could potentially cause them harm like rhubarb plants or products made from them including pies or jams containing rhubarb juice.

In addition to its toxicity risk, rhubarb also contains high levels of sugar which can lead to obesity and dental problems in rabbits if consumed regularly over time. The sugar content also brings an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases such as bloat or diarrhea due to the sudden increase in sugar intake which their digestive systems may not be able to handle properly without proper care from a vet who specializes in treating small animals like rabbits.

It’s important for pet owners who have rabbits as part of their family members to keep this information about the potential risks associated with feeding their pet rhubarb in mind when making decisions on what foods are safe for them to consume or not consume at all times so that they can stay healthy and active just like any other family member would expect from them!

Potential Consequences of Feeding Rhubarb to Rabbits

You may have heard that rabbits shouldn’t eat rhubarb due to its toxicity, but do you know the potential consequences of feeding it to them?

Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common effects of rhubarb consumption in rabbits. In addition, respiratory issues like difficulty breathing or wheezing can occur if a rabbit ingests too much.

It’s essential to be aware of these risks and take steps to avoid them.

Gastrointestinal problems

Eating rhubarb can cause gastrointestinal problems for rabbits, so it’s best to steer clear. Rhubarb contains oxalic acid, which is toxic to rabbits and can lead to oral inflammation and damage the gut flora. It also contains high levels of fiber, which is difficult for a rabbit’s digestive system to break down. The combination of these two ingredients can be very dangerous and potentially fatal if ingested by a rabbit.

The gastrointestinal effects of consuming rhubarb in rabbits can vary from mild discomfort to severe pain and diarrhea. In some cases it may even lead to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances due to their inability to absorb water properly after ingesting rhubarb. Additionally, eating too much rhubarb can cause vomiting as well as an upset stomach or intestinal blockages that require medical attention.

Symptom Severe Cases Mild Cases
Oral Inflammation Yes No
Gut Flora Damage Yes No
Diarrhea/ Vomiting Yes Yes (more likely in severe cases)
Dehydration/ Electrolyte Imbalance Yes (rare) No

Respiratory issues

Breathing difficulties can be a consequence of consuming rhubarb, so be careful. If rabbits eat rhubarb, they may experience chronic coughing and breathing difficulties. These symptoms can be particularly dangerous for smaller animals like rabbits due to their already delicate respiratory systems.

In addition to chronic coughing and breathing difficulties, other signs that your rabbit has consumed rhubarb include: swelling of the face or neck, wheezing or difficulty breathing, open mouth breathing, and drooling or excessive salivation.

If you suspect your rabbit has eaten rhubarb, contact your veterinarian immediately as it’s highly toxic to rabbits and can lead to further respiratory issues if left untreated.

Alternatives to Rhubarb

Seeing the toxicity of rhubarb, it’s best to explore alternatives for your furry friend. Organic treats are a great option as they’re made with natural ingredients and don’t contain any chemicals or preservatives that may be dangerous for rabbits. These treats usually include fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Leafy greens such as kale, parsley, spinach, and dandelion greens can also make great snacks for your rabbit. They provide essential vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy. You may also want to consider providing hay or grasses as these can provide necessary fiber in their diet.

Fresh herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary can also make a tasty treat for your rabbit. However, you must be careful when feeding fresh herbs because some have higher concentrations of oxalic acid which is toxic to rabbits if ingested in large amounts. Dried herbs are generally safe but should only be given in small amounts since they tend to lose some of their nutritional value during the drying process.

Fruits can also be an excellent snack choice for rabbits but some varieties should be avoided due to their high sugar content. Apples, pears, and strawberries are generally safe choices though you should avoid giving them too often since the sugar can cause digestive issues if consumed in large quantities. Additionally, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons contain citric acid which is not good for rabbits so these should always be avoided completely.

Finally, there are many other snacks available that you could offer your rabbit such as nuts, seeds, or even cooked eggs every now and then as long as they don’t contain added salt or sugar which can upset their stomachs over time if consumed too often. With all these options available, there’s no need to risk offering rhubarb when there are plenty of healthier alternatives that will keep your bunny happy while keeping them safe from potential toxins found in rhubarb plants!


With all the delicious and nutritious alternatives available, there’s no need to risk your bunny’s health by feeding them rhubarb – show your furry friend some love and stick to safer snacks!

Rabbits are naturally herbivores, so their diet should be made up of mostly hay, vegetables and occasional treats. When it comes to treats, there are numerous safe options that can provide your rabbit with a variety of flavors and textures.

Here are some examples:

Hay-Based Treats:

  • Timothy hay cubes or balls
  • Hay rolls or pressed hay cubes
  • Dried herbs like oregano, basil or parsley

Vegetable-Based Treats:

  • Carrot slices or baby carrots
  • Pea pods without the peas inside
  • Celery sticks

Fruit-Based Treats:

  • Apple slices or dried apple chips (no seeds)
  • Pear slices (remove core & seeds)
  • Banana slices

These alternative diets provide rabbits with essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins A and C, minerals like calcium, phosphorus and potassium. In addition to these nutritional benefits, they also give bunnies something fun to chew on while providing mental stimulation.

So, make sure you keep your animal happy and healthy by avoiding rhubarb in their diet altogether!

Bryan Moore
Bryan Moore
I am Bryan, owner of I love all animals but find myself especially drawn to rabbits. I have been very lucky to be able to turn my passion into my profession, and I am grateful every day that I get to do what I love. It is my hope that through this website, I can help others learn more about these wonderful creatures and provide them with all the information they need to care for their own rabbit. View my Full Author Page Here

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