The Best Rabbit Food

Featured image for best rabbit food article.

Finding the best rabbit food isn’t always easy. Especially for those those of you who are new rabbit owners and don’t know where to start. In this article we bring you the top rabbit foods for keeping your rabbit healthy.

Overall we found Oxbow Animal Health Bunny Basics Essentials to be the best rabbit food so far in 2019. This is down to the great nutritional value this food offers, along with the great industry reputation Oxbow holds.

ImageNameAgeSizesPrice
Oxbow Animal Health Bunny Basics Essentials Adult5, 10, 25 lbsCheck on Amazon
Sherwood Pet Health Rabbit FoodAdult4.5, 10 lbsCheck on Amazon
Small Pet Select Rabbit PelletsAdult5, 10, 12, 25 lbsCheck on Amazon

By rabbit food we’re referring to pelleted rabbit food. If you’re a new owner, you need to understand rabbits are grazing animals. They should have access to an unlimited supply of hay and or grass as their primary food source.

A Review of the Best Rabbit Food

Best Rabbit Food Section.

Pelleted rabbit food is a good source of fibre to help your rabbit grow to achieve a healthy weight. In this section of the article, we’ll be looking at some of our favorite rabbit foods to date.

Below is a list of the 5 best rabbit foods around.

Oxbow Animal Health Bunny Basics Essentials

Rabbits need high fiber to keep their digestive system working correctly, and vitamins and minerals to boost their health.

This is a great example of a food that gives these qualities.

Essentials adult rabbit food combines the necessary fiber with steadied nutrients to ensure a balanced diet, served with oxbow loose grass hays.

The founder of Oxbow Animal Health, John Miller created the industry’s first timothy hay-based food for rabbits. This food is built on the same basis.

It’s assuring for any owner to know your rabbits’ diet is in good hands.

The timothy base is complimented by a great level of protein, essential fiber healthy fats and carbohydrates.

What We Like

  • Hay based rabbit food.
  • Timothy hay is a great source of protein, fiber and healthy fats for your bunny.
  • Oxbow is a very well known brand for producing good quality products.

Kaytee Timothy Complete Diet for Rabbits

Kaytee Timothy Complete food was developed by animal nutritional experts, to ensure your rabbit gets the proper nutrition for a long healthy life.

Timothy Complete is in pelleted form, made with hay extracts selected by hand. With essential vitamins and minerals.

This food comes high in fiber, and with protein levels lower than that found in Alfalfa this food helps with supporting your rabbits digestive health.

With the food being made from timothy hay which is lower in calcium than other grasses, it may decrease the likelihood of urinary tract problems and other health issues relative to rabbits.

The manufacturer hold over 150 years of nutritional experience. As the consumer this gives you a real sense of assurance, knowing that you’re rabbits diet is in safe hands.

What We Like:

  • Made with hand selected timothy hay extracts.
  • The brand holds over 150 years of experience.
  • Developed by nutritional experts to help your rabbit get the best food possible.

Small Pet Select Rabbit Pellets

Next up on the list we’ve got rabbit pellets from Small Pet Select. If you’re wondering why you haven’t seen this product in the stores before, it’s because you won’t! This product is sold exclusively online, delivered fresh to your door.

This timothy hay based food is high in fiber and contains essential vitamins and minerals. You’re in safe hands with this choice of pellets. The brand themselves stating this is a food of choice for veterinarians country wide.

And with a money back guarantee, we would say this is a pretty low risk purchase. If your rabbit doesn’t take well to them you can get your money back.

What We Like:

  • This rabbit food brand produces excellent rabbit friendly products.
  • High in fiber and contains important vitamins and minerals.
  • Money back guarantee meaning if you or your bunny aren’t happy then no problem.

Adult Healthier & Happier by Sherwood

This is a hay-based food, and is free from grain and soy. The food boasts containing the perfect amount of long-strand fiber.

It’s a great choice for your rabbits daily diet as it’s a low calorie, and a balanced meal.

Providing you follow the daily guidelines, this means that you can feed your rabbit safe in the knowledge that you aren’t accidentally over feeding them.

Another benefit is that it provides extra Timothy grass hay. This supplies essential nutrients needed for optimal health, and is advertised to aid your rabbit in achieving a healthy weight.

Whether your rabbit is currently an unhealthy weight and looking to change that, or you’re looking to maintain its’ current healthy weight, ”Health and Happier” is a great source of nutrients for your rabbit.

This product is made by a company with good transparency, and a real enthusiasm for rabbits and their health.

What We Like:

  • Provides your rabbit with additional source of timothy hay.
  • Free from grain and soy.
  • Intended to help your rabbit become a healthy weight.

Supreme Selective Fortified Rabbit Food

This is a great product given rabbits needs for a high fibre diet.

With rabbits natural diet containing mostly grass, which contains about 25% fiber, this is something that pet rabbits need to suplement.

This product has 25% fibre so that you can provide a high fibre diet, that will help keep on top of your rabbits complex digestion system. Afterall, house rabbits don’t always have access to grass. Supplementing the fiber it misses from grass with this food is a great option.

What’s also great about this rabbit food is that it comes full of natural ingredients like linseed with both Omega 3 and 6. This will help keep your rabbits skin and coat healthy.

The food also contains natural prebiotics which helps in promoting friendly bacteria.

High levels of sugar can lead to obesity and dental problems further down the line so this. In Selective rabbit food, there is no added sugar. This means you can rest assured knowing that your rabbit is eating a healthy meal with all the nutrients to ensure a balanced diet.

What We Like:

  • High fiber content helps bunny digestive systems.
  • Food contains natural ingredients to aid healthy skin and coats.
  • Good for promoting friendly bacteria.

Our Rabbit Food Guide

Rabbit Food Buyers Guide Section.

In this section of the post we go into some of the details that you need to know before buying pelleted rabbit food.

Thankfully Dr. Beth Arnold a doctor of veterinary medicine, with a special interest in rabbits was happy to give us some professional input on rabbit pellets.

Adding Pellets to Your Rabbits Diet

We asked Dr. Arnold how you can safely add pellets to your rabbits diet. “You can sprinkle them in the hay and fresh greens your rabbit should be eating to introduce them into the diet” Dr. Arnold said.

This subtle introduction is certainly something we can vouch for, as drastic changes to a bunnies diet can be unsettling. By sprinkling them in with their hay and fresh greens the pellets will be a lot more welcoming.

Why Use Pellets?

On the topic of how important pellets are for your bunnies diet, Dr. Arnold went on to say  “Some people feel a pelleted diet is essential. I would like to see the data on that. I feel the only benefit is that it guarantees ingestion of fiber and can help put on weight. Long stem fibers are much more important for horizontal chewing and proper bacterial gut flora.”

She also said “If your bunny is a good weight and not on pellets, they are not necessarily essential.”

So, if your rabbit is underweight rabbit pellets can be a good way to help them put weight on. If your rabbit is of healthy weight, they may not be necessary.

What Should You Look For in Rabbit Pellets?

Dr. Arnold feels “A pelleted diet should be just that – pellets. No seeds, dried fruits or manufactured kibble type ingredients.” We see a lot of pellet brands out there adding ingredients to their blends such as dried fruits. These can be high in sugar, and can’t really be considered a “pelleted diet”.

She went on to say that “Timothy hay pellets are preferred due to the lower calcium content, but alfalfa is acceptable.”

How Much Should You Feed your Rabbit?

Something we’re quite concerned with is the over feeding of rabbits. Especially those that are already a healthy weight. The intake requirement will vary on a bunny by bunny basis. However, it’s vital you understand how much your rabbit needs.

Dr. Arnold’s recommendation is 1/4 cup of pellets per 5 pounds of bunny per day.

Pelleted Rabbit Food and Nutrition

To reiterate Dr. Arnolds earlier point, rabbit pellets are a great way to guarantee fiber intake. Although, the accuracy of the fiber numbers on the label are somewhat questionable.

Studies have found that crude fiber numbers on labels are not always an accurate indicator of the total fiber in a rabbits feed. [1]

That said, pellets are no doubt a convenient way to boost your rabbits calorie and fiber intake. You will find this especially important if you have a bunny under a healthy weight.

It’s important you take a cautious approach when the time comes to feed your bunny pellets. We’ve already touched on adjusting your rabbits diet, what to look for and how much to feed it.

We recommend always checking your cup of pellets before feeding. We’re not saying it happens often, but manufacturing mistakes can happen. When it comes to the health of your bunny you can never be too careful.

Do the Best Brands Mean the Best Rabbit Pellets?

While brand isn’t always an indicator of quality, think of it like as a stamp of approval with rabbit pellets. We’d recommend opting for a trusted brand, because you know years of practice, testing and research has gone into their product. This is especially important for a product your rabbit will be ingesting and you don’t want to take any risks.

Myths Surrounding Carrots and Lettuce

Carrots lettuce myths

Rabbits have a complex digestion system and the right diet is crucial in ensuring that this works as it should. The first food that springs to peoples minds when they think of rabbits are carrots. However, fruit and vegetables are too sugar dense to be a rabbits primary form of calories, so are certainly not the best rabbit foods for their health.

Another food commonly associated with rabbits is lettuce. Certain lettuces such as Iceberg lettuce shouldn’t be given to rabbits. Lactucarium within these can be harmful to rabbits in large enough quantities.

The more water in the lettuce, the worse. This is because there’s so much water that they offer a very small amount of nutritional value. Look out for the lighter shaded lettuces are these are typically the ones that are water dense.

Darker lettuces with more leaves and fibre can be fed to rabbits. However, like pellets it is important to slowly introduce it to your rabbits diet, as too much to quickly may lead to digestive problems.

Grazing

Rabbits need to graze on hay or grass (or both) as the main part of their diet. They need to be able to chew on something natural through the day to control teeth growth and manage their complex digestion system.

Hay is the most important part of a rabbits diet.

Portion control for other food can ensure they still have their natural appetite for grazing hay and grass throughout the day.

It is important to note that straw is not to be confused with hay as straw is not recommended to be fed to rabbits. This is because Straw is low in nutrients, using this as a hay substitute or a grazing food can lead to deficiencies.

Grass provides a great balanced protein intake, with digestible fibre not to mention some vitamins and minerals. You should allow your pet rabbit to graze for several hours during the day. However, this can often be a difficulty for house rabbits.

Grass should be grazed from the ground, or fed fresh cut. Do not feed your rabbit lawnmower clippings as they ferment at a rapid rate, leading to digestion implications.

How Much Food Should a Rabbit Eat?

how much food should my rabbit eat

There is no set in stone answer for this question. There are a wide variety of factors that can affect intake that your rabbit needs. These can include size, age and temperature of living environment. When it comes to guidelines, there’s very little published literature on pet rabbits. Remember, you need to be very cautious of even the best rabbit foods when it comes to portion sizes.

If you think your rabbit may have issues with weight, and you’re concerned about its weight try portion control. Measure how much food you are feeding your rabbit and monitor its weight gain or loss. It’s possible you may be overfeeding or underfeeding your rabbit for it’s level of activity, with portion control if this is the case you can alter the portion size accordingly.

Rabbits and Protein Intake

Just like us humans, rabbits need an adequate amount of protein for various reasons. It provides them with energy and supports healthy growth. It also helps their muscles to grow and recover after strenuous exercise.

So just how much protein do rabbits need? Well, this is a figure that does tend to vary depending on certain factors.

It’s recommended that rabbits get the following protein levels [2]

  • 12-16% for domestic rabbits
  • 17-20% for larger or longer-haired rabbits
  • 16-20% for pregnant does
  • 18-21% for lactating does
  • 12-14% for younger rabbits between 3-9 weeks of age

Where can they get Protein?

Rabbits are grazing animals. In their natural environment, they will spend large parts of the day grazing on grass. Wild rabbits are a lot more active than pet rabbits and manage to get enough protein from just eating grass. However, with pet rabbits, this can be difficult.

You may find that you don’t have a constant supply of grass for your rabbit to graze on. If this is the case fear not. Hay is also a source of protein for your rabbit that they should be able to graze on all day.

Be Careful with Protein Intake

If rabbits don’t get enough protein, this is considered a protein deficiency. It can result in serious issues including the following [2]

  • Poor tissue regeneration
  • Difficulty in absorbing of micronutrients
  • Differences in a rabbits appearance

It’s important to strike a balance, excessive protein intake can result in [2]

  • Strain on the organs
  • Increased urine generation
  • Increased urea production
  • Reduction in gastrointestinal motility

Remember, if you have any concerns regarding your rabbit’s protein intake, go to the vet! Never take matters into your own hands without consulting a professional.

Final Thoughts on Rabbit Food

Getting your rabbits diet correct is fundamental in maintaining overall health, but also dental as well as digestive health. The best possible diet for rabbits is one that mimics that of a natural grass based rabbits’ diet in the wild. Grass and Hay should make up the majority of your rabbits diet.

Something as simple as giving your rabbit healthy food can prevent all sorts of health related issues in the future. Remember, new foods being fed to rabbits of all ages need to be introduced very gradually into their diet.

If you feed treats to your rabbits that’s ok. However, this should only be done in small quantities and on rare occasions. Excessive amounts of treats can lead to obesity and digestive issues.

For mental stimulation and tooth wear providing your rabbit with branches or twigs can be a good idea. They will find enjoyment from gnawing them. General rules for this would be that you can offer branches from any tree that we eat the fruit from. For example, apple or pear trees. It’s important to make sure the tree has not been sprayed with any chemicals.

References:

1. Molina, J., Martorell, J., Hervera, M., Pérez-Accino, J., Fragua, V., & Villaverde, C. (2015). Preliminary study: fibre content in pet rabbit diets, crude fibre versus total dietary fibre. Journal Of Animal Physiology And Animal Nutrition, 99, 23-28. doi: 10.1111/jpn.12309

2. Moore, L. (2013). Rabbit nutrition and nutritional healing. (2nd ed.)

Remember: Always consult a veterinarian or qualified animal professional if you have concerns over your rabbits diet or health.

Vet Contributor

This post was contributed to by Dr. Beth Arnold, a vet at Crossroads Animal Hospital . She has had a myriad of animals including various rabbits, a 7 member chinchilla herd, cats, dogs, birds, mice and chickens. Learn more about her and how she's helped with our content on our about page.

About the Author

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