Can Rabbits Have Avocado?
Fruits and vegetables fall in and out of popularity as different health trends come and go. Today, some of the trendy health foods include kale, quinoa, chickpeas, acai berries, and of course, avocados. Though they can be expensive (yes, we know that guacamole is going to cost extra!), that does little to deter our deep love of this fatty fruit. Though avocados have a mild flavor, they add a creamy decadence to any dish fortunate enough to include them. We can use avocados to add texture to salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, and pastas. Many people even use avocado to make decadent desserts, including cakes, brownies, and bowls of ‘healthy’ chocolate pudding. With a little determination, you can add avocado into almost anything… and without hurting your health!
We know that avocados are healthy for us in moderation, but we’re less certain of whether or not we should give this rich fruit to our pets. Rabbits are herbivores who adore a wide range of fresh produce, but the Internet is full of warnings against feeding buns fruit on a regular basis. Though avocados are technically fruit, we often categorize them as a vegetable due to their lack of sweetness. So, should we treat them as fruits or veggies in the bunny diet? Can you give your rabbit avocado?
The answer is no, rabbits should not eat avocado—ever. There are many fruits and vegetables that are considered harmful to bunnies when fed on a regular basis, but avocados are far more dangerous than your average piece of fruit. In addition to being very unhealthy for your bunny due to their nutritional makeup (tons of fat and not a lot of fiber), avocado flesh contains a substance that is toxic to rabbits. If your rabbit ingests a substantial amount of avocado flesh, they may die. If you’ve already given your pet a chunk of avocado flesh, it may be wise to contact a veterinarian for advice. The sooner you get help, the better your bun’s chances of survival.
The good news is that there is no nutritional reason to give your rabbit avocado flesh anyway. We consider this food healthy because of its healthy fat content, but buns need far less fat than people do—because rabbits have such different nutritional needs, avocados are not a suitable food for them. While humans can do quite well on diets that contain moderate amounts of starch and healthy fats (including nuts, seeds, and avocados), rabbits have evolved to eat diets that consist mostly of low-fat, low-calorie, high-fiber foods like grass and hay.
The average rabbit only needs 3-4% of their caloric intake to come from fat! Most of the time, your bun will be able to get all the fat they need by eating their usual abundance of hay and leafy greens. Feeding your bun too much fat can contribute to a wide range of health problems, including compromised immunity (resulting in increased infections), fatty liver disease, and even heart disease. Because fats are extremely caloric, avocados can also contribute to obesity, which can shorten your rabbit’s lifespan.
Avocados’ fiber deficiency can cause serious health problems even if your rabbit manages to avoid toxicity. The rabbit GI tract relies on fiber to keep matter flowing through the gut at the right speed. Foods that are low in fiber fail to stimulate the gut appropriately, which can cause digestion to stagnate. Rabbits who are showing symptoms like constipation, poor appetite, straining to pass fecal pellets, lethargy, or abdominal bloating should not have any access to sugary or fatty foods. If you suspect your rabbit has a gastrointestinal motility issue, put them on an all-hay diet and take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Things to Consider
The most compelling reason to avoid giving your rabbit avocados is a chemical known as persin, which is poisonous to rabbits. Ingesting a substantial amount of this chemical can cause breathing problems, behavioral changes, congestive heart failure, and death.
Some rabbits appear to be able to handle small quantities of this toxin with no obvious effects, but many other pet parents find that their rabbits do not survive even after getting to a vet. Persin is present in all parts of avocados—the flesh, pit, skin, leaves, and branches—so there is no reason to let your rabbit anywhere near an avocado plant. Despite their toxicity, rabbits will eat avocado flesh eagerly, so it is your responsibility to make sure that they do not have access to it!
Sadly, it is not safe to give your rabbit avocado flesh—even as a treat. In addition to being high in fat and calories, avocados contain a substance, called Persin, that can cause fatal toxicity in rabbits. If your bun accidentally eats any amount of any part of an avocado plant, it may be a good idea to contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.