December 1, 2020

Best Food for Rabbits –

What to Feed Your Rabbit?

Fact checked by Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM
Published by Emma Hughes

Vet Approved

As a pet parent, it is up to you to provide your rabbit with a wholesome diet to promote his wellbeing. Your bunny cannot choose for itself, so as the owner, you're the one calling the shots.

Here's the deal. Rabbits have specific nutritional requirements and may become very sick if not fed according to their dietary needs. Although hay is the most critical part of their diet, rabbit food will ensure your bunny is getting all the nutrients and vitamins it needs.

Since adequate, high-quality nutrition is the cornerstone of good health, knowing what to feed our beloved rabbits with is something every responsible bunny parent should know.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Still, choosing the best food for rabbits can be challenging with all the options out there. Some good, others potentially dangerous.

Don't worry; we can help you. Here are the top vet-approved choices for best rabbit food with a buying guide to help you learn more.

Let's get started!

What is the Best Rabbit Food?

Best rabbit food consists of unlimited hay, ¼ cup of high-quality rabbit food pellets, a handful of leafy greens and veggies, and a small portion of treats. Fresh timothy-based pellets are recommended for adult rabbits. Check our top vet-approved picks to avoid health problems caused by unsuitable rabbit food.

Rabbit food pyramid infographic

While looking for the best food for bunnies, you should make sure you are providing your pet with a nutritious and balanced overall diet that meets their dietary requirements.

The ideal bunny diet consists of approximately:

  • 80% of grass hay
  • 10% leafy greens and veggies
  • 5-7% rabbit pellets
  • 2-3% healthy treats

A balanced diet like this ensures

  • enough fiber to promote intestinal motility and support digestive health
  • dental health is supported by fibrous material to chew on
  • all the important vitamins and minerals
  • a healthy weight
  • your rabbit feels well

But not all hay is suitable for pet rabbits, and neither are all vegetables and fruits. In this article, we are set to finding out the best rabbit food pellets. For more information about all-important hay or the overall diet of bunnies, check out:

The Complete Bunny Food Guide
Which Type of Hay is Best for your Rabbit?

Now, let's have a closer look at the best bunny foods for your pet.

Best Rabbit Food – Quick Guide

Before we go deeper into the top 3, here is a quick guide to what you should be looking for when choosing the best rabbit feed:

  • Made of timothy hay if you have an adult rabbit
  • Made of alfalfa hay if you have a young, growing bunny
  • High in fiber
  • Choose pellets over grain mixes and cereal blends
  • Fresh, high-quality food ensures all the important nutrients

* We may earn a small commission on purchases made through our links. Learn more.

And here are the top vet-approved picks for your rabbit!

Best Rabbit Pellets – Top vet-approved picks

1. Oxbow Essentials Adult Rabbit Food – The Popular Choice

What we like about this food:

  • Recommended by vets
  • Formulated for rabbits
  • Made with timothy hay
  • High in fiber to support digestion
  • Contains antioxidants and prebiotics
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Uniform pellets ensure a balanced diet

Oxbow Essentials Adult Rabbit Food - 5 lb.

This Oxbow Adult Rabbit Food is one of the most popular rabbit foods. It offers complete and balanced nutrition for bunnies with a blend of natural ingredients. The food has been fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure sufficient intake of A, D, E, and B Vitamins. Also, the pellets are good for the teeth yet easy to chew.

We love that the quality is consistent, and the pellets are fresh and tasty.

2. Small Pet Select Rabbit Food Pellets - The Premium Choice

What we like about this food:

  • Vet-recommended
  • Formulated for rabbits
  • Timothy hay-based
  • High-quality ingredients
  • High-fiber content to support digestion
  • Fortified with all-important vitamins
  • Pellets prevent selective eating

Small Pet Select Rabbit Food Pellets, 5-Pound

This vet-recommended high-quality rabbit food from Small Pet Select has all the vitamins and minerals your bunny needs in its diet. The food is always fresh and tasty, and your pet will love it. It's made in small batches in the U.S. by a family-owned company and not mass-produced to ensure a fresh product and consistency in quality.

We love the freshness and high-quality ingredients. And so will your rabbit.

3. Kaytee Timothy Complete Rabbit Food – The Healthy Budget Choice

What we like about this food:

  • Vet-recommended
  • Formulated for rabbits
  • Made with timothy hay
  • High fiber food to support digestion
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals
  • Promotes a balanced diet

Kaytee Timothy Complete Rabbit Food 4.5 lb

The Kaytee Timothy Complete Rabbit Food is a healthy and nourishing choice for rabbit owners looking for a balanced pellet food at a reasonable price. It offers all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals your pet needs with no added sugars.

The fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics in this food support digestive health, while the pellets encourage chewing to keep the teeth trimmed.

We love the price-quality ratio, and our bunnies love the taste.

Best Food for Young Rabbits

Oxbow Essentials Young Rabbit Food

  • Age-specific formula
  • Vet-recommended
  • Made with alfalfa hay
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals
  • High in calcium and protein
  • Discourages picky eating
  • Contains antioxidants and prebiotics
  • No added sugars or preservatives

Oxbow Essentials Young Rabbit Food - 5 lb.

This Oxbow rabbit food for young rabbits is ideal for growing bunnies under the age of 7-12 months, depending on the breed. It's made with alfalfa hay to provide precisely what baby bunnies need.

It contains more calcium to support growing bones and more protein for strong muscles. The uniform pellets discourage selective eating from a young age to ensure a balanced and healthy diet for growing rabbits.

We love the age-specific formula that ensures a good start to life for your precious little bunny.

Best Rabbit Food Pellets – The Buying Guide

When choosing rabbit food pellets, these are the key factors you should consider

- Adult rabbits should be fed pellets made of timothy hay. It is higher in fiber but lower in calcium and protein to prevent bladder sludge and weight gain.

- Younger bunnies under the age of 7-12 months can be fed alfalfa-based pellets. They offer extra protein and calcium to support the growth of bones and muscles. Your pet should transition to timothy-based pellets when he stops growing. If a bunny is fed with alfalfa pellets, they should be fed grass hay like timothy or orchard hay.

- Older rabbits with geriatric issues (underweight and with excess blood calcium levels) should also be fed more alfalfa-based pellets.

- The pellets need to be high in fiber because it is what keeps your rabbit's digestion going. Without enough fiber, your bunny will risk serious digestive problems and even gut stasis, which can be lethal. The recommendation is minimum crude fiber >18% and indigestible fiber >12.5%.

rabbit food pellets

-  Pellets that are high in protein may lead to obesity.

Pellets are recommended over food mixes because they are better for a balanced and nutritious diet. Avoid grain mixes, cereal blends, and rabbit muesli because they encourage picky eating, which causes nutritional deficiencies and obesity.

-  Cereals, nuts, seeds, corn, beans, peas, and grains should be avoided because they may cause digestive problems.

Choose pellets with no additives, artificial colors and preservatives, as they may cause digestive problems in sensitive bunnies.

Pellets should always be fresh because rabbits may not eat them if they have become stale. Plus, eating molded pellets is detrimental for the rabbit’s overall health. As rabbit food loses nutrients over time when not stored properly, so you should not buy in bulk. Instead, opt for a repeat order from an online store to save money and have fresh rabbit food delivered at your door whenever you need it.

Rabbit food will ensure a nutritionally balanced diet and fill the specific dietary requirements of bunnies.

Although the quantity of pellets is quite small in a rabbit's diet, rabbit food will ensure a nutritionally balanced diet and fill the specific dietary requirements of bunnies. Therefore, the food you provide must be healthy and suitable.

If the rabbit food you're currently offering is not up to par, you should change it as soon as you can. Although good-quality bunny food is a bit more expensive, in the long run, you'll be saving money on vet visits when you support your pet's wellbeing.

Just remember that because rabbits have sensitive tummies, their feeding habits should be kept constant. Any new foods need to be introduced slowly over 2-3 weeks to avoid possible stomach upsets.

Also, your bunny should always have access to clean, fresh water. Because lapping is more natural to rabbits and encourages drinking, dishes and bowls are preferred to water bottles. Still, because bowls may get knocked over, having one of each is the safest option to ensure your pet doesn't run out of water.

How Much Pellets to Feed a Rabbit?

Hay should make up the majority of your rabbit's daily food intake, but pellets are a good way of making sure the diet doesn't lack any nutrients.

In addition to unlimited hay, your rabbit should be fed with a small amount of pellets every day.

Overfeeding pellets may result in obesity and soft stool. Because pellets are high in carbohydrates and often low in fiber, too much of them may cause overgrowth of abnormal bacteria in the digestive (gastrointestinal) tract.

An average bunny of about 6-10 lbs. needs ¼ cup of pellets every day, while smaller bunnies only need about 1/8 cup.

More precisely speaking, around 25 grams of pellets per kg of body weight per day. That means the average adult rabbit weighting 4 kg needs around 100 grams of pellets per day. This amount should be divided in at least two separate meals.

Best Rabbit Food Brands

There are many rabbit food brands on the market, and sometimes it can be difficult to know which one you should pick. There are many excellent products available, but unfortunately, there are others that don't meet the dietary needs of rabbits.

Also, many of the most well-known brands manufacture several products formulated for bunnies, but the content may differ depending on which age group the product is targeted at.

Still, there are a few reliable brands, which we can recommend:

  • Oxbow is one of the most popular brands in small pet feeding. They offer healthy, high-quality products that are formulated to meet the dietary requirements of specific animals.
  • Small Pet is another well-known brand that offers consistent quality in its products and produces nutritionally sound foods for different pets.
  • Kaytee is probably one of the most well-liked brands with a variety of healthy foods that are widely available.

Rabbit Pellets or Muesli – Which is the Best Bunny Food?

Food mixes, also known as rabbit muesli or cereal mix, are a blend of dried ingredients like processed pellets and vegetables. They often seem like a healthy and fun option for your pet but should actually be avoided because

  • Food mixes encourage and enable picky eating. Your bunny may pick only the tastiest morsels or food, which often contain the most sugar and fats. Because the healthier pieces are left untouched, your bunny risks obesity and malnourishment.
  • Colorful mixes often contain artificial colors, which your rabbit is better off without.
pellet food for rabbits

Pellets, on the other hand, are recommended as rabbit food because they ensure a balanced diet. Since each piece is the same, you can rest assured your rabbit is getting all the nutrients it needs.

Do Rabbits Need Pellets?

Hay is the most important part of your rabbit's diet because they need a lot of fiber for their digestion to work properly. Too little fiber will slow down the bowel movements and may even result in a dangerous condition called gut stasis because a rabbit’s digestive system is fueled by fiber.

Although rabbit food contains quite a lot of fiber, it's not enough. Increasing the amount of pellet food in your rabbit's diet is not the solution for providing more fiber. Because pellets are high in nutrients, feeding more rabbit food may lead to obesity and an overdose in nutrients.

Still, supplementing hay and water with a small amount of pellet food is recommended because it ensures your rabbit gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Although a balanced diet can be achieved by offering hay, water, and varied veggies in the right proportions, pellets are a more convenient way of ensuring your pet's dietary requirements are met.

Related reading: Best Hay for Rabbits - Top 7 Vet-approved Choices

How to switch to pellets from a food mix or muesli?

If your pet is eating rabbit muesli or a food mix, and you want to transition to a healthier pellet food for rabbits, you should make the change gradually over 2-3 weeks.

  • Rabbits have sensitive tummies, and new foods may cause diarrhea or soft stool, which may lead to malnourishment.
  • Ensure your bunny has unlimited hay and water available and that they are eating healthy greens during the transition. Do not make any other changes at the same time to be able to monitor how your pet reacts to the new food.
  • New foods may cause the stool to be softer for a couple of days, but if it doesn't get back to normal, contact your vet for advice. Rabbits are extremely fragile creatures in which things can go either way really quickly. That is why calling your trusted vet as soon as issues develop is of paramount importance.
bunny eating grass

Summing up – What is the best food for rabbits?

Being a good pet parent is not always straightforward. With all those foods and treats on the market and conflicting advice, it can be challenging to know which ones to choose.

We hope this rabbit nutrition guide has helped you in choosing the best possible rabbit food for your furry friend. Although it is just a small part of your bunny's food pyramid, it is an important one. Quality food ensures your rabbit receives all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

A well-fed rabbit is a happy and healthy rabbit.

You May Also Like: Best Cage For Rabbit - Vet-Approved Choices

Vet's Comment

Unlike wild rabbits, which are natural foragers, modern pet rabbits live in urban, enclosed environments with little to no access to grass meadows.

Consequently, while wild rabbits constantly graze on fresh and dry grasses, tree barks, leaves, shrubs, herbs, sprouts, and fruits, our domesticated rabbits eat what we serve them and when we serve them.

Since adequate, high-quality nutrition is the cornerstone of good health, knowing what to feed our beloved rabbits with is something every responsible bunny parent should know.

In a nutshell, the rabbit’s daily menu should include:

  • A bundle of hay as big as the rabbit itself
  • ¼ cup of pellets
  • A handful of leafy greens
  • One slice of fruit as a treat
  • Constant access to fresh water.

- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Ivana Crnec doctor of veterinary medicine

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Ivana Crnec

DVM

Ivana Crnec is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine specialized in domestic carnivores. She graduated from the University Sv. Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. Ivana is a certified canine nutritionist and also certified in HAACP food safety system implementation. She currently works as a veterinarian while completing her postgraduate studies. Her research has been published in international journals.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your rabbit’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

Scroll to Top