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Can Rabbits Eat Cheese?

Can Rabbits Eat Cheese?

We have always associated eating cheese with mice, but are there other animals that can eat this as well – rabbits, for example? You will have to keep reading if you want to find out!

Okay, let’s break down the theory about cheese and the animal we associate it with.

Can rabbits eat cheese? The answer is no. Unfortunately, this ingredient should not be on your rabbit’s food list. A little later, we will find out why.

So if you want to know why cheese is not a suitable food or even a treat for your pet rabbit, scroll down. Many exciting facts await you!

Leave That Cheese Alone!

Stay away from that cheese – it was never meant for your rabbit. If you see them sniffing crumbs of leftover cheese from your lunch, take a broom or wipe it away or move your rabbit away. 

There are many types of cheese and even more reasons why it shouldn’t serve as food for your pet. 

We have to start somewhere, so let’s begin by listing the major types and comparing their nutritional value. 

We have brie, cheddar, feta, gouda, mozzarella, and Swiss cheese – too many if you ask me. Now, the numbers:

1 ounceBrieCheddarFetaGoudaMozzarellaSwiss
Calories10012060110 85100
Carbs1 gr1 gr1 gr1 gr1 gr1 gr
Fat9 gr10 gr4 gr9 gr6 gr9 gr
Protein5 gr7 gr5 gr7 gr6 gr5 gr
Calcium150 mg200 mg60 mg200 mg143 mg150 mg
Sodium170 mg190 mg360 mg200 mg138 mg170 mg

Now that you’ve seen what each type of cheese contains, it’s time to dig a little deeper into the matter of health. Although we love to put cheese on everything, it’s not always the best idea. 

It’s even worse if we feed it to our pets that can’t digest it properly. What’re more, specific brands of store-bought cheese contribute to this. 

The first thing that comes to mind is the lack of “the natural,” and that’s right. Processed cheese is just made to taste like those all-natural huge chunks of cheese you see on commercials. It’s actually filled with additives and unhealthy ingredients – there’s almost nothing natural about it.

The next thing that you should really pay attention to is the expiration date. Supermarkets are known to play tricks on us and put the almost expired cheese on the front shelves – that’s what we all reach for. Let’s leave it at that; we’ll talk about expiration dates in a minute.

So as not to stray too far from the topic – rabbits and cheese – let’s mention exactly why cheese is terrible for these fluffy animals.

Cheese contains a gut bacteria called lactobacillus that the rabbit’s digestive system couldn’t process. The rabbit’s stomach is too small for this bacteria to pass through; therefore, gastrointestinal problems are inevitable.

Rabbits can’t vomit. Why is this important? Because cheese can sometimes be too strong, it can make your rabbit’s stomach upset, and when the stomach is upset, the natural outcome includes vomiting and releasing the substance that’s causing nausea. Since your pet rabbit can’t do that, you’re in big trouble.

Dairy products are filled with calories which raises the chances of bloating, gas, and even obesity. Imagine feeding your rabbit a chunk of cheese with 100+ calories – a disaster. Rabbits eat more than they should anyway, and this is just adding fuel to the fire. 

Cheese is also filled with sugar, and since rabbits are herbivores, this doesn’t work for them. They already get sugar from various fruits – this would be crossing the line.

You have probably heard a million times someone saying they’re lactose intolerant. Well, cheese is one of the leading products out there that contain the enzyme lactose, and rabbits are intolerant to it. It means that they can’t digest it without having severe stomach problems –  diarrhea most commonly.

Dairy products like cheese (all types) are loaded with calcium. In most cases, calcium is there to help with bone density and strength, but in the case of rabbits, large amounts can create a blockage in the urinal system. And once this happens, it can lead to kidney stones in rabbits, which is another health issue you would rather avoid. 

As you can see, there are many reasons why your pet bunny shouldn’t come near this ingredient. All the red flags of cheese are accurate, but let’s get back to particular cheese brands that are exceptionally bad – for anyone, not just rabbits. 

  1. Brie – bland and soggy taste
  2. Cheese Strings – a processed snack, not even real cheese
  3. Wensleydale and Cranberry – sorry, but cranberries and cheese don’t mix
  4. Swiss cheese – odd taste, especially when it’s melted
  5. Cottage cheese – the appearance is not appealing at all, and it’s too high in proteins
  6. Blue cheese – it can smell like it’s rotten even if it’s not
  7. Red Leicester – it has absolutely no taste or nutritional value
  8. American cheese slice – a bad processed type of cheese
  9. Cream cheese – too sugary and too unhealthy
  10. Goat’s cheese – not recommended in large quantities because it’s too strong
  11. Mexican cheese – the additional chili makes it too strong to digest
  12. Halloumi – it turns bad after only a couple of days
  13. Mozzarella – doesn’t taste good when it’s melted
  14. Feta – too high in sodium and not recommended in large quantities

As you can see, we have a couple of cheeses from the table above, and that means that you should definitely not rely on them or keep them near your pet.

Keep in mind this list every time you go out to buy some cheese or see your rabbit sneaking around some lunch or dinner leftovers that include this dairy product.

Don’t be fooled by the word “cheese”. This doesn’t just mean sliced or grated cheese. It also means cheese puffs, cheese balls, cheese-flavored powders – basically anything that contains cheese in it.

My Rabbit Ate Too Much Cheese, What Now?

It’s not the end of the world if your rabbit had a tiny slice of cheese – this won’t kill it. But still, the amount matters, especially with caloric ingredients like this one.

However, there is a difference between domestic and wild rabbits and their preference for cheese. You might have guessed it – domestic rabbits are more prone to sniffing cheese slices than the wild ones. 

It’s simple; your domestic rabbit spends almost 24/7 in the environment where lunch is cooked, trash is thrown in the bin near your rabbit, and leftovers are all around. It’s completely natural that your rabbit becomes curious about this new “food” and wants to try it. 

Sadly, it’s not such a good idea. 

The moment you notice your rabbit munching on some cheese sticks or slices, go over there and remove all of the cheese. The next thing you should do is take a good look at your pet. 

Keep an eye on your rabbit for a couple of hours after it’s had the cheese and see if anything changes – watch out for symptoms of diarrhea, stomach ache, etc.

If by any chance you do notice that your rabbit’s symptoms are getting worse and that it’s struggling with moving or making strange sounds, it would be wise to call the vet.

But before you do that, how much cheese is too much? 

Consequently, if your rabbit eats more than 50 grams of any kind of cheese, it’s time to panic. Some of the outcomes you are looking at are severe stomach problems.

So, be cautious with where you place your kitchen supplies, and most importantly, don’t let your pets near them!

Gut Stasis

When we said earlier that too much cheese in your bunny’s organism results in stomach problems, we meant gut stasis. Time for explaining. What is this?

Gut stasis in rabbits is caused by food that stopped moving through their organism – the gastrointestinal tract. And let us remind you, we already mentioned that calcium could create a blockage in their digestive system – bingo!

The point at which the problem occurs is the caecum. This turns into unbearable gas and bloating. 

Some of the leading causes for this terrible stomach ache are:

  • Exaggerated amounts of grass hay
  • Too much leafy greens (egg spinach, parsley)
  • Excessive amounts of dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt)

Sometimes, you may miss the opportunity for your rabbit to eat cheese. So, how do you recognize the signs of gut stasis if you didn’t witness the wrong dietary choice?

Here are some signs that you should consider as red flags:

  • Reduced appetite/unwillingness to eat
  • Considerably smaller droppings
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Grunting
  • Bloated stomach

Gut stasis can be treated in a couple of ways.

  • One way of treating this issue is by rehydration – This includes giving your rabbit more greens (that are not high in sugar) and a lot more water. That way, the tract will widen, the water composition will promote frequent digestion, and the unwanted ingredients will leave your bunny’s organism for good. 
  • Another way is by giving your bunny medication, and this calls for a vet. It would be best if you didn’t treat gut stasis at your own risk. Instead, you should go to the vet’s ordination and explain the case. He will probably prescribe you medication like buprenorphine (an opioid) or meloxicam (an anti-inflammatory pill)

These are the two main treatment methods, but what if your rabbit is so sick that it can barely drink water? In that case, you might have to consider

  • Tube feeding – for rabbits in critical conditions, feeding is done through a tube that goes in your rabbit’s nose
  • Removing fluids from a bloated stomach – this is a light surgery that would mean taking your rabbit to the doctor and leaving it there for a couple of days

REMEMBER: Gut stasis can be deadly only if you are utterly ignorant of your rabbit’s dietary plans and pay absolutely no attention to what it consumes daily.