Can Rabbits Have Grapes?
Everyone has their favorite fruits and vegetables, but one of the fruits that seems to win the hearts of everyone—regardless of age or favorite flavors—is the sweet, juicy table grape. Ever since we were little, grapes have shown up as healthy side dish options both at home and when we go out to eat. Most of us are more than happy to eat grapes by themselves, but we can get creative, too: we use grapes in jam, we dry them into raisins, and we mix them into salads and fruity desserts. Because they are loaded with fluid, vitamins, and antioxidants, we can gobble up grapes without guilt.
But the same can’t be said for our pets. Many who share their homes with cats and dogs have learned that grapes are not only unsuitable for them, but downright toxic! So, does this hold true for our buns, too? Can you give your rabbit grapes?
Actually, the answer appears to be yes, grapes are safe for rabbits to consume in small quantities. Rabbits don’t appear to suffer from many of the symptoms of grape toxicity that dogs or cats do—grapes will not, for example, cause your bun to develop Heinz body anemia. So, while grapes should definitely stay away from your cat, it looks like it’s okay to share the occasional grape with your rabbit as a treat. Just remember to practice portion control. Rabbits should not eat large quantities of fruit.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Rabbit Grapes
Fruit should make up a very small portion of your rabbit’s total calories. Whereas humans are supposed to eat several servings of fruit every day to maintain some degree of health, rabbits actually do not require any amount of the sweet stuff to remain in peak condition. Fruits, including grapes, are unnecessary for your bun. They should serve as treats that your rabbit gets in small amounts a few times per week.
Though your rabbit’s diet should not include significant amounts of fruit, grapes may be one of the healthier fruit options—especially if you are using fruit in lieu of other types of treats. Like strawberries, blueberries, and cherries, these are some of the healthiest bunny-safe fruits that are consistently available in your supermarket. These fruits are sweet enough to keep your rabbit satisfied, but they have the added benefit of being far healthier than a lot of the processed, artificially colored corn-based rabbit treats available in pet stores.
Grapes and other richly colored fruits are loaded with antioxidants that may benefit your pet’s health. The antioxidants in grapes, most notably glutathione, have powerful protective effects on your pet’s body—they help prevent cell damage that often leads to many types of disease. Grapes in particular are often praised for their anticancer effects.
Though there have been limited studies on the effects of antioxidants on the overall health of rabbits, research on humans and other animals suggests that consuming antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, inflammatory illnesses (including arthritis), and cognitive problems (such as dementia in humans). Grapes also contain resveratrol, which correlates with a longer lifespan in humans.
Grapes are a human superfood, but, as previously mentioned, you should only feed them to your rabbit sparingly. The average bun has a vicious sweet tooth and will devour any fruits offered to them, so it falls to us to regulate their intake!
Things to Consider
Fruits are high in sugars. Though these natural sugars don’t seem to hurt our health, they can wreak havoc on our bunnies’ bodies. This is because rabbits have unique, fragile digestive systems that rely on large quantities of low-calorie, high-fiber foods to function properly. Your rabbit’s diet should consist mostly of hay supplemented by leafy greens and other vegetables. These are the foods that will help your rabbit meet all of their daily vitamin, mineral, and energy requirements, yes, but they will also ensure that their digestive system continues to run smoothly.
Sugary foods like grapes do not supply enough fiber to keep your bun’s gastrointestinal tract operating optimally. If your rabbit eats too much fruit and too little hay (which is entirely possible—buns who are ‘spoiled’ will turn their noses up at hay in favor of fruit), their stomach and cecum will not empty properly. This can result in constipation, infection, loss of appetite, dehydration, and even gastrointestinal stasis, which can be fatal. If your rabbit’s fecal matter suddenly changes in texture, size, or number, back off the fruit and consult a vet. If your bun has gone 12 hours without a bowel movement, take them to the vet immediately.
When it comes to grapes, feel free to share with your beloved bunny, but remember to treat this food as a dessert rather than a meal. Though they may benefit from the antioxidants present in grapes, and though they are healthier than a lot of processed rabbit treats, your bun probably should not eat more than four or five grapes per week. If your rabbit has digestive problems after eating grapes, consult a veterinarian.