On a hot summer’s day, as you enjoy an ice-cold drink, you look over to your rabbit and feel bad that the only drink that they have is plain old water. You feel bad for them because surely they must get bored of drinking the same thing every day and all day long.
Then inspiration strikes and you think, if my rabbit can eat fruit, surely they can enjoy the juice of that fruit!
When it comes to your rabbit’s diet you have to be very careful about what you offer them. Your bunny’s digestive system is sensitive and giving them the wrong fruit or drink can cause serious health problems for them and that’s the last thing you would want.
If there is one thing we as pet owners should understand is that humans are very different from their pets. Sure they’re family but they have different needs than we do. Things we eat and don’t give a second thought about, such as juices, might not be appropriate for our furballs. This is why, before offering your rabbit anything, it is always a good idea to do your homework so as to avoid any (avoidable) mishaps.
Why is water important for rabbits?
To begin with, we cannot stress enough how important water is for your rabbit. Common as it is, the importance of water is often overlooked. Rabbits, like most mammals, are about two-thirds water. They need water in order to survive.
Your rabbit can go up to a day or even two without eating but if it doesn’t drink water for 24 hours it can and will die. Water helps your rabbit with their food digestion, waste removal, and absorbing nutrients into their system and it also helps regulate their body temperature as well as form new tissues.
And just as much water as they drink, they also lose that much on a daily basis. So they need a constant source of water to replace the water they lose.
There is no better drink for your rabbit than water and nothing can replace the water in your rabbit’s diet.
Can rabbits have juice?
Rabbits are omnivores which means their diet consists entirely of greens and hay. By greens, we mean vegetables and fruits. Between the two, however, the fruit is the less important green. This is because of a very simple reason that fruits have high sugar quantities. A rabbit needs a diet that is rich in fiber. Too much sugar paves the way to a bunch of health issues such as obesity and diabetes which in turn can prove to be fatal.
But what about juice? Surely, there is no harm in giving our furballs a bit of juice as a treat to keep them cool or to give their taste buds a variety.
Here’s the thing, unlike humans, rabbits don’t necessarily get tired of eating or drinking the same thing. Hay and water are two things given to them in abundance and rabbits enjoy having these two things and also need them to survive.
So you don’t have to feel bad about only giving them water and you don’t have to go through the hassle of taking all the necessary precautions that come with trying to incorporate juice into their diet.
To start off with you will have to ensure you know the difference between fruit juice and a fruit drink. A fruit drink is perhaps the worst thing you can offer your rabbit. It isn’t juice, it might contain the flavor of the fruit, but it hasn’t been derived from the actual fruit. It is also insanely high in sugar. This amount of sugar is empty calories that your rabbit does not need and will only harm them.
Coming to actual fruit juice, there is a reason why it is not recommended. Not all fruits are bunny-appropriate. Fruits are high in sugar and rabbits may enjoy sugary goodness, but they definitely don’t need it. When you give your rabbit fruit as a treat you can control the portion size and also control just how much sugar you’re giving them. But with juice, you can’t. In order to make a glass of juice, you need to squeeze quite a few juices and when you give your rabbit a drink of juice, you don’t know how much sugar it actually contains.
Similarly, some juice may be too acidic for rabbits such as citric fruits. The acidity coupled with the sugar won’t do them any good.
Circumstances when the juice is okay
Despite all the reasons that we’ve given to you to not give your rabbit juice, we will admit there is a rare situation where even your vet may advise the opposite.
We’ve stressed greatly the importance of water for a rabbit. But what can we do if our rabbit suddenly stops drinking water altogether? It becomes incredibly alarming and so as their guardians, we are willing to do anything to encourage our rabbits to drink their water.
This is where juice can come in handy. You can add a splash of juice, apple or orange would do (though your rabbit will probably like apple more) to their water. Your rabbit will become curious about the new smell and the sweet taste might encourage them to drink the water.
If your rabbit suffers from bladder issues such as UTIs you may be advised to offer them a bit of cranberry juice as a form of treatment.
Some rabbit owners also claim that orange juice also helps with certain bladder issues.
Rabbits only really need hay and water to live a satisfying life and thus there is no need to try to incorporate new and unnecessary things into their diets. That includes juices. There isn’t any vital nutrition in the juice that you can’t get from the actual fruit that you feel the need to give them juice. In medical situations, consult your vet about what quantity of juice should be added to the water.