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Rabbit Ate Chocolate

What are the dangers for a rabbit that ate chocolate?

Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: October 4, 2013, 5:15 p.m. EDT

rabbit near chocolate
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Keep all chocolate and candy away from rabbits. Ingestion can cause health problems.

Q: My rabbit accidentally at a small piece of chocolate. What should I do?

A: It is likely that if it was a small piece of chocolate, no harm will come to your rabbit. But if your rabbit was to eat a large amount of chocolate, that is a very serious situation that means an emergency visit to the veterinarian’s office.

Chocolate candy is very dangerous to all animals. The active ingredient in chocolate, theobromine, is metabolized much slower in animals than in people, and it can build up to toxic concentrations in animals that ingest too much chocolate. This can cause multi-organ disease and failure if not treated properly.

The treatment used in dogs and cats that ingest chocolate is to induce vomiting to remove the chocolate from the stomach. We cannot do that in rabbits, because rabbits cannot vomit. This leaves us with a difficult dilemma on how to treat without being invasive.

Sometimes veterinarians can use a stomach tube to remove and dilute the chocolate that is remaining in the stomach, but this is not always successful. Also, most chocolate candy contains fat and sugar, which are other sources of danger for rabbits. Fat and sugar can cause a severe imbalance in the intestinal tract, which leads to stasis, anorexia and, eventually, liver disease.

If what your rabbit ate was a small amount of chocolate and your rabbit appears fine, then likely this was not enough to cause disease. It still is a good idea to visit your veterinarian to have some basic blood tests done to make sure that there are no longer ill effects from eating chocolate.

Like this article? Then check out:
Is Your Rabbit Sick?, click here>>
Toxic To Rabbits, click here>>
See all veterinary Q&A about rabbits, click here>>
See all rabbit health articles, click here>>
See veterinary Q&A for all small animal pets, click here>>

Posted: October 4, 2013, 5:15 p.m. EDT


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