Although healthy rabbits can eat rolled oats, they don’t offer much nutritional value and can lead to weight gain when eaten in excess. However, for malnourished or sickly rabbits, rolled oats can help them regain their weight.
You are not alone if you are always looking for nutritionally complete foods and snacks to add to your pet’s diet. Pet owners spend thousands of dollars each year in an attempt to make sure that their pets have everything that they need.
For some, this even includes trying different diets or searching for additional foods to give their pets to meet their nutritional needs.
Rabbit owners are no different. If you own a rabbit, you have probably seen somebody asking if they can feed their pet rabbit rolled oats or oatmeal. For many, this seems like an obvious answer, as the consumption of oats is fairly common in the animal kingdom.
What You'll Learn
- 1 Can Rabbits Eat Rolled Oats?
- 2 Signs of Intolerance to Rolled Oats
- 3 When to Avoid Rolled Oats
- 4 How to Tell If Your Rabbit Should Eat Rolled Oats
- 5 A Diet Should Mimic Nature
Can Rabbits Eat Rolled Oats?
The simple answer is, “yes, they can.” Whether or not they need them is a different story. Let’s look at the facts regarding rolled oats as they pertain to a rabbit’s diet.
Great For Malnourished Rabbits
Oats are full of fiber and complex carbohydrates that help a rabbit put on weight and give it energy.
Increases Chances of Obesity For Healthy Rabbits
If your rabbit does not need to gain weight, feeding them oats can be counterproductive for their overall health. The empty calories in oats can increase the chances of obesity in your furry friend.
Signs of Intolerance to Rolled Oats
If you do decide to give your rabbit rolled oats, you should introduce them to their diet slowly. As you introduce them, be on the lookout for the following symptoms, as they are indications that your rabbit’s body might not tolerate the oats.
It is important to monitor your rabbit’s stool and body when introducing oats (or any new food) for any adverse reactions. If you notice the above symptoms, hold off on feeding your rabbit oats until you can speak with a veterinarian.
When to Avoid Rolled Oats
If you choose to still give your healthy bunny oats as a snack or as an addition to their regular diet, you should do so sparingly.
Consuming too many oats, or eating a diet that is high in them, can increase your pet’s chances of obesity. Obesity can lead to heart and lung disease in rabbits.
Likewise, if you notice any adverse reactions to the oats, whether immediately or over time, you should cease feeding them to your rabbit.
If your pet enjoys having variety in their diet, try these healthy additions instead:
- Carrot tops
These, and other leafy or dark greens, make a great addition to your rabbit’s typical diet. Since rabbits’ bodies depend on diets high in fiber, you should also opt to give them plenty of hay. You should try to give your rabbits 1 to 2 cups of leafy greens each day.
Another great substitute for oats is Timothy hay. Timothy hay can help regulate your rabbit’s weight thanks to its high fiber content. It is also low in fat, which makes it ideal for rabbits who might need to cut or reduce body fat.
For those who still want to indulge your pet’s sweet tooth, you can feed the following foods sparingly. The following foods can be high in sugar or fats and should not be fed excessively.
- Apples – Remove the seeds first, as they are toxic to rabbits.
- Beet greens
Some foods that are acceptable for rabbits to eat may come from plants that are not entirely edible to them. For example, onions are toxic in high amounts, as are the leaves and stems of tomato plants. However, rabbits have no issue eating the fruit of tomato plants.
Remember, when introducing new foods to your rabbit, you should also do so slowly. Introducing a new food too quickly can confuse or upset your rabbit’s digestive system. This can lead to their metabolism slowing down.
How to Tell If Your Rabbit Should Eat Rolled Oats
Rabbits that are malnourished, sick, or recovering from illness will benefit from rolled oats. As previously mentioned, rolled oats can help rabbits regain weight and give them energy. If you are unsure if your rabbit is malnourished, look for the following symptoms.
Rolled oats can give your rabbit energy if they are acting sluggish or run down.
Dull or Rough Coat
This symptom may appear before your rabbit shows typical signs of malnourishment, like emaciation.
This is most likely the first symptom you will notice or will be the most noticeable.
“Caved in” Abdomen
A healthy rabbit’s abdomen should be smooth.
Excessively drinking water or dropping uneaten food can be signs of unusual behavior.
The fiber in oats can help your rabbit’s digestive system if they are experiencing this kind of symptom. If your rabbit defecates less than normal or its size and shape have changed drastically, it may be malnourished.
A Diet Should Mimic Nature
Rabbits’ diets are typically made up of plants and grasses that they can forage in their natural environment. In captivity, rabbits need to be fed a diet that resembles their natural habitat. Hay, greens, vegetables, and other leafy plants can add variety and nutrition to their everyday meals.
For some rabbits, this may not be enough to properly maintain a healthy weight, or they may have other issues that prevent them from being as healthy as possible.
In these cases, rolled oats can be beneficial when added to their diet. If you are trying to decide whether or not to add rolled oats to your bunny’s meals, consider the above information and consult your veterinarian to help you make an informed decision.