What Not to Buy for Your Rabbit

This post highlights items that are marketed for rabbits but should be avoided for your rabbit’s safety, health, and happiness. Unfortunately, the pet retail industry is not required to only sell safe/healthy items, so a lot of what you will find at pet stores should never be purchased. If you ever have a question about whether something is safe for your rabbit, email kirstin@newmexicohrs.org.

HUTCH

If it were up to us, rabbit hutches would be illegal. A proper enclosure for a rabbit has enough room for them to hop twice in any direction and enough room for a full-sized litter box, water bowl, and hidey house. Save your money and get an x-pen instead.

Rabbit hutches are only acceptable if they are left open and are part of a much larger living area for your rabbit (for example, your rabbit has a whole room and a hutch in the corner that they are never locked in).

CAGES

This cage is marketed as “Deluxe” but it is anything but. A proper enclosure for a rabbit has enough room for them to hop twice in any direction and enough room for a full-sized litter box, water bowl, and hidey house. Save your money and get an x-pen instead.

Cages like these can be used for baby rabbits who are still small enough to fit through the bars of an x-pen, but typically by 4 months or 3 pounds your rabbit needs to graduate to a larger area.

“FIESTA” TYPE FOOD

A lot of rabbit food contains pieces of corn, which cannot be digested by rabbits and will therefore cause digestive issues. Any type of seeds will also add unneeded fat to your rabbit’s diet.

Avoid food with carrots and fruit pieces. These are too high in sugar and can upset the balance of your rabbit’s digestive system. Any fun, colorful shapes in your rabbits food is also just sugar and should be avoided.

Our recommended brands of rabbit pellets are Science Selective, Oxbow, and Small Pet Select.

WATER BOTTLE

Rabbits suck up their water like humans, so water bottles are unnatural to them. Bottles also make it very hard to get enough water, so they often lead to dehydration. Rabbits should have a large, heavy crock for their water.

CRITTER POPS

These are made out of rice and corn – 2 ingredients your rabbit has a lot of trouble digesting. Giving these to your rabbit runs the risk of the contents getting bogged down in your rabbit’s digestive system and sending them into stasis. There is no nutritional benefit to these so no reason to buy them.

CORNER LITTER BOX

These are too small for your rabbit to fit in which means they won’t use it. Use a cat-sized litter box at a minimum, or (our favorite option) get a concrete mixing tub from Lowe’s or Home Depot. If you have a bonded pair you’ll want a litter box they can both fit in.

YOGURT DROPS

Rabbits are lactose intolerant + vegan. Additionally, yogurt drops contain way too much sugar. These 3 factors add up to a recipe for disaster with your bunny’s digestive system.

GLAZED DONUTS

We were pretty taken aback when we saw these because in addition to being too high in sugar, two of the ingredients are milk and eggs. Rabbits are vegan, so please skip items containing animal products.

PINE & CEDAR SHAVINGS

Pine and cedar shavings are toxic to rabbits because they contain phenols that cause liver damage/failure.

Aspen shavings and paper bedding are safe to use. Compressed pine pellets (for a wood-burning stove) are safe because they are baked and do not contain phenols. Newspaper is also safe.

You should also never use clumping cat litter in your rabbit’s litter box.

CRUNCH STICKS

Giving one of these to your rabbits is probably the equivalent of a human eating a whole gallon of ice cream. These “treats” are full of fat, sugar, and undigestible ingredients. Opt for fresh fruit as a treat instead, giving no more than the size of your thumbnail daily.

SHAMPOO

Rabbits are very clean animals and groom themselves. If your rabbit has an odor you need to talk to your vet to see what the underlying cause is. Applying shampoo to your rabbit 1) masks the issue without addressing it, 2) risks irritating your rabbit through the scent (rabbits have strong noses so what is a pleasant scent to you could be driving them nuts), 3) risks poisoning your rabbit if they groom themselves and lick the shampoo (the label says that it is nontoxic but honestly, we don’t trust it)