March 2, 2021

Can Rabbits Eat Grapes?

A Vet Explains

rabbit thinking of grapes
Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM
Published by Sheila Wilson

Vet Approved

Grapes are a pretty amazing fruit. They come in a variety of colors and can be made into plenty of delicious products we enjoy, such as jelly, wine, and grape juice.

But the best way to enjoy a grape is to simply eat the fruit as it is. Each grape is a small pleasure, a little explosion of flavor in your mouth when you bite it. Naturally, you'd like to share with your rabbit, right?

"Can bunnies eat grapes" is a pretty common question, and the answer is that, yes, rabbits can enjoy this fruit – but in moderation. Feeding too many grapes or serving them too often may lead to health issues you certainly want to avoid.

Read on to discover all you need to know about safely serving your rabbit grapes.

Can Rabbits Eat Grapes?

Yes, rabbits can eat grapes. They are a good source of vitamins, water, and fiber. Still, you should follow our feeding guidelines as this sugary fruit also comes with health risks like obesity, diabetes, digestive issues, and even GI stasis. Also, the seeds are a choking hazard, and the skin is better removed to prevent kidney failure.

One example of a fruity treat for rabbits is grapes.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Always keep in mind that any fruits should only be fed as an occasional treat. To keep your bunny healthy, you need to offer them a diet that is 80% hay plus a small amount of rabbit pellets and some healthy leafy greens and veggies.

That said, grapes are definitely OK as a treat. Rabbits can enjoy red and green grapes, and they can also eat the stems and leaves, but it is better to remove them because they are generally not pleasant in taste or may contain pesticides. The grape vine is also harmless to rabbits.

The skin and seeds are edible but if excessively consumed, may hurt your rabbit, as feeding too many of these can lead to kidney stones or kidney failure. It's best if you just remove both before you serve them.

Raisins are also OK for rabbits, but you must feed these in small amounts because their water content is reduced, making them very sugary. Two raisins, for example, are OK as a weekly treat.

Baby rabbits are advised not to eat grapes. Their digestive systems are not developed yet, and these small animals are dependent upon their mother's milk for sustenance and development when very young. Before 12 weeks of age, you should not introduce any foods like grapes to a baby bunny’s diet. They start nibbling on solid foods at about 2-3 weeks but let them eat hay and pellets first, slowly introducing them to small amounts of the same foods their mother is feeding on.

Although rabbits can eat grapes, and there are definitely some health benefits in this nutritious fruit, it also comes with some health concerns – especially if fed in large amounts or too often. But before we get to the risks and feeding guidelines, let's have a look at the advantages of feeding grapes to your bun.

Health Benefits: Are Grapes Good for Rabbits?

Here are some of the reasons grapes can be an excellent addition to your bun's weekly serving of treats.

Grapes are vine-growing berries rich in beneficial nutrients.
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Great for Constipation Relief

If your rabbit is having trouble going, you might wish to peel a grape and offer it to them. These fruits contain fiber and water, which can help digestion get working.

As you probably know, bunnies have very sensitive digestive systems, and they need to eat hay all day long to keep their tummies working. Lack of unlimited hay, a low-fiber diet, or too little hydration can cause a severe and possibly fatal condition called GI stasis, where the digestion slows down or stops completely.

Signs of this include

  • no appetite
  • small or no droppings
  • bloating
  • lethargy

Although grapes can offer fiber and hydration that help your bunnies gut get moving, it's important to contact a vet for assistance if you notice any of these symptoms and suspect gut stasis.

grapes

Grapes may help keep bowel movements regular, lower the constipation risk, and help your rabbit stay hydrated. Still, they are no substitute for a water bottle. Make sure your rabbit has an unlimited water supply at all times.

Loaded with Antioxidants

Grapes – especially the red ones – contain a lot of antioxidants. They are helpful in that they aid in they prevent inflammation but also keep the immune system healthy. Known as polyphenols, these antioxidants may also help your rabbit prevent cancer.

Great for The Eyes

It is a myth that rabbits have poor eyesight. The truth is that their depth perception is not so great, especially up-close, but objects that are far away are easy and clear for them to see.

You can help your rabbit see a bit better by offering them a peeled grape or two once a week. The antioxidants zeaxanthin and lutein, which are present in grapes, are helpful for supporting eye health.

Great for The Heart

Remember those polyphenols we mentioned? One of those polyphenols, resveratrol, is thought to possess lipid reducing, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the chances of a cardiovascular disease. A study conducted in New Orleans in 2009, showed that domestic animals fed grapes and grape powder have better functioning hearts.

Health Risks: Are Grapes Bad for Rabbits?

After all the good things about grapes, you probably wonder why you cannot offer them to your rabbit more frequently. Here are the risks associated with serving your rabbit grapes too often.

Diabetes and Obesity Are A Risk

Weight gain and obesity are a risk in pet rabbits, as they rarely get enough exercise, but their owners love to treat them with sugary and fatty snacks. It's understandable to want to make your pet happy by offering them a delicious treat, but in the long run, it's better to ensure a balanced diet that keeps your pet healthy and thriving.

Rabbits have not adapted to eating large quantities of fruits and may suffer negative effects if treated to them too often.

One cup of grapes contains 15g of sugar. If you were to feed your rabbit a large quantity of these fruits and do so often, they could likely become obese or possibly develop diabetes –which is actually quite rare in rabbits but still something you need to consider.

Even without diabetes, weight gain may cause many health issues that are better avoided with a diet that contains only very limited amounts of sugar – grapes included. If your rabbit is already obese, it’s better not to feed any grapes at all and choose less sugary options.

Risk of Gut Stasis

Feeding rabbits grapes high in sugar as a staple food is not a good idea not only because of the possible weight gain but also because any sugary foods may cause gastrointestinal problems.

Gut stasis can occur due to a high carb, high sugar, and low fiber diet in rabbits. As mentioned above, it is a severe condition where your pet's digestion slows down. If your suspect your bunny may be suffering from it, contact a vet to evaluate the situation.

Diarrhea and digestive issues

In addition to sugar, grapes are also high in water and, if fed too much, can cause your rabbit to experience diarrhea. It can lead to dehydration, which can be fatal.

Gas and bloating may also occur thanks to the stomach of the rabbit quickly digesting the sugar. The gas then builds up in the stomach, which causes your rabbit to experience bloating.

Another side effect is that good bacteria cannot grow when the pH level of the stomach changes. These bacteria are important in manufacturing some helpful vitamins like B-vitamins, which rabbits then get by eating their cecotropes.

Seeds and Skins Are A Hazard

If you feed your bunny grapes, the skin and seeds are better removed. They both are completely edible and not toxic, but feeding them too often may lead to kidney failure and the accumulation of kidney stones.

Chronic renal failure affects rabbits of all ages, but it is most common in older and middle-aged rabbits. It appears gradually over time and progresses. Some of the causes associated with chronic renal failure include dehydration, dental disease, diabetes, having a poor diet, aging, and tumors.

Not Good for Teeth

As mentioned, grapes contain quite a lot of sugar. The amount of sugar contained within grapes can lead to tooth decay if they are fed in excess.

Rabbits need to keep their teeth in good health by chewing on hay, which should be offered in unlimited amounts. Pellets also help with this, as do hard veggies such as carrots.

Avoidance of Regular Food

Grapes have a lovely sweet taste, and your rabbit may easily prefer them over their much-needed diet of hay, pellets, and water. If your pet fills up its stomach with grapes or any other treat, it may not be getting a balanced diet that meets its nutritional requirements.

Not eating enough hay and replacing pellets and healthy veggies with treats will lead to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition.

As a result, you should make sure to keep grapes and other treats to a maximum of 2-3% of the overall diet to make sure your rabbit stays balanced in terms of nutrition.

Feeding Guidelines: Grapes for Rabbits

How Many Grapes Can I Give My Rabbit?

One or two grapes is ideal for your rabbit. One or two raisins is OK as well. Make sure you peel the grapes and inspect them carefully, removing any seeds as well. It will reduce the risk of kidney stone buildup and kidney failure in your rabbit.

A good rule of thumb is that treats like fruit should make up no more than 2-3% of your pet's diet. This includes not just grapes but other fruits and treats as well.

A grape or two is enough of a treat
- Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM

Other grape products, such as grape jelly, store-bought grape juice, wine, or grapeseed oil, should be kept away from rabbits. These foods offer no nutritional value to your rabbit and often have added sugars/other additives with no nutritional benefit for your pet. Grape juice is acceptable if homemade and without added sugars.

How Often Can I Feed My Rabbit Grapes?

Grapes and other treats should be kept to a once per week occurrence for best results. It will give you and your rabbit something to look forward to, and you can be certain that you are keeping your rabbit healthy and his nutrition balanced.

Again, we emphasize that all treats should comprise a maximum of 2-3% of your bunny's diet, and that includes all fruits and bunny treats.

How to Prepare Grapes for Rabbits?

Preparing grapes for your rabbit is easy but does require a few steps.

  1. For starters, shop at your local market or grocery store for grapes that look fresh and are free of mold or spoilage. It is always best to choose organic grapes when possible, as this will reduce your rabbit's chances of consuming harmful pesticides and chemicals.
  2. Once you have your grapes home, wash them even if it is not your rabbit's designated treat day. This way, they will be ready to go when it's time to feed them.
  3. Once it's treat-time, select two grapes that look good.
  4. Peel the skins off carefully using a small knife.
  5. Now carefully inspect the grapes to make sure they are free of skins and seeds and place them into the enclosure.
  6. Remove any fruit your rabbit does not eat after about an hour. Otherwise, it could go bad and spread bacteria on the other foods.
purple grapes

Nutrition Facts

Here are the nutrition facts for one cup of grapes:

  • 62 calories
  • .8g fiber
  • .6g protein
  • 16g carb
  • 15g sugar

Here are some helpful vitamins and minerals you get out of a one-cup serving of grapes:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B-6

As you can see, grapes contain many vitamins and minerals, but they are also quite sugary.

Although grapes can be considered a healthier choice compared to other treats with even more sugar or a lot of fat, you should still keep in mind that rabbits have not adapted to eating large quantities of fruits and may suffer negative effects if treated to them too often.

Summing up – Can Rabbits Have Grapes?

Yes, rabbits are OK to enjoy grapes. However, moderation is going to be your best bet when it comes to this particular treat. 

Grapes are wonderful because they have plenty of benefits. However, they are not good enough to be used as a staple food for rabbits, and they're actually kind of a pain to prepare (peeling a grape is somewhat tedious).

That being said, you should stick with a diet of unlimited hay and water, pellets, and the occasional treat for best results. It will help your rabbit live a good, long life complete with balanced nutrition.

Vet's Comment

As obligate herbivores, rabbits thrive on diets comprised of grasses (mostly hay), plants, grains, vegetables, and fruits. Fruits are not a staple food for rabbits, but they are excellent treats.

One example of a fruity treat for rabbits is grapes. Grapes are vine-growing berries rich in beneficial nutrients. They are packed with phytonutrients (like polyphenols), antioxidants, vitamins B and K, copper, and dietary fiber.

Grapes come in various colors – from black, purple, and red to green and yellow. All color varieties are safe for rabbits. Just make sure the peel and seeds are removed before serving and the grapes used in moderation – a grape or two is enough of a treat.

- 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.

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