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a rabbit eating popcorn

Can rabbits eat popcorn? Treat or Harmful

Popcorn is a popular snack known for its rich in fiber, low in calories, and contain more iron than spinach, eggs, and even peanuts. But if you have a rabbit as a pet, you may find yourself in a dilemma. When your pet sees the delicious snack in your lap, it may suggestively look at you that it needs a piece. You have to decide whether to feed it or not.

The answer to the question “can rabbit eat popcorn?” is simply NO. We are going to explain to you why you shouldn’t give popcorn to a rabbit? And what consequences excessive consumption can have on their health.

Can rabbits eat popcorn? Rabbits are complex creatures. The nutrients required by their bodies are slightly different from the nutrients the human body needs to thrive. Therefore, what is healthy for us is less healthy for rabbits. Fortunately, this does not mean that popcorn is toxic to rabbits, although certain types of popcorn ingredients can be dangerous. In some ways it is safe, and some people even think it provides a trace of healthy nutrition. 

rabbit eating popcorn

Do not give popcorn to a rabbit

Popcorn contains a lot of salt, sugar, and sweeteners used to add flavors such as chocolate and caramel. All of these seasonings are for humans, and not meant for rabbits. There is also a chance that a piece of popcorn will get caught in the rabbit’s throat and choke.

Popcorn that is properly crushed is less likely to have such an accident, but in the case of bunnies and old rabbits, their chewing power may be weak or their throat may be thin. 

So don’t let your rabbit eat your popcorn. It’s highly recommended that you keep all things you don’t want your rabbit to eat, not just popcorn, out of their reach.

Why shouldn’t you give popcorn to a rabbit?

To understand why we should not offer popcorn to our rabbits, we must first point out that popcorn is not a food easy to digest by rabbits, as could be other appropriate cereals like oats, barley, or flax. Also, popcorn is a food that contains a lot of fat and salt, even more so when it comes to industrial microwave popcorn.

In addition to causing digestive problems, excess fat can lead to rapid weight gain and high cholesterol in rabbits. Excess bad cholesterol generally promotes the accumulation of non-soluble fatty plaques in the arteries, which promotes the development of the cardiovascular disease. Too much salt also affects the heart health of rabbits, which can lead to hypertension.

We can think of the possibility of making homemade popcorn, made in a frying pan with little oil or steam, without preservatives, and without salt. This snack would be much less dangerous or harmful to our rabbits than industrial popcorn.

rabbit eating hay
Hay should form a large part of a rabbits diet

But let’s be realistic and assume that almost no one makes popcorn without oil or salt and that the vast majority of people prefer bags of popcorn to be made in the microwave.

Too much of the salt or sugar can lead to bloating, diarrhea, or poisoning! If they have to eat popcorn, at least prepare them yourself without salt and sugar.

It should not be forgotten that in small rabbits there is also a risk of suffocation if the corn kernels get stuck in the throat and cannot be swallowed. The broken grains can also get stuck in the teeth or the respiratory tract.

This is why, even if they are not always part of the prohibited foods for rabbits, popcorn is not a healthy food for your rabbit. To please or reward your rabbit, you can opt for natural and healthy treats.

Diseases and symptoms common to rabbits when they eat popcorn

Rabbits rarely get sick immediately after eating a small amount of popcorn. However, if you feed your rabbit sweets such as popcorn daily, you may end up with the following symptoms and illnesses.

Diseases caused by excessive salt intake

If rabbits take excess salt, they risk increasing kidney and heart disease. When salt intake increases, blood pressure rise and it puts a burden on the heart and kidneys, so be careful about excessive sodium intake.

Symptoms of excessive sugar intake

Obesity and diabetes are easily caused by an excessive intake of sugar. Rabbits, like humans, eating sugars make them easier to gain weight and increase the risk of associated diseases.

GI (or gut) stasis is a potentially deadly condition common in pet rabbits in which the digestive system slows down or stops completely. Bad bacteria then builds up in the intestines and releases gas into the system, causing very painful bloating which often leads to a lack of appetite.

rabbits eating carrots

What to do when a rabbit eats popcorn

If your rabbit accidentally eats popcorn and is struggling or coughing, it may be clogged with pieces of popcorn, so see it at a veterinary clinic immediately. There are however some home remedies you can use.

Give water

Even if the rabbit doesn’t choke on popcorn, salt and sugar are already ingested, so it is necessary to manage the physical condition thereafter. If you’ve eaten salty popcorn, we recommend drinking plenty of water. By diluting the salt concentration in the body with water, it becomes easier to discharge salt. 

Chocolate coated Popcorn

If the popcorn has a lot of chocolate, check for poisoning and take any immediate changes to a veterinary clinic. If there is diarrhea, it is a likely toxic symptom and you should urgently seek appropriate treatment.

My rabbit has eaten excess popcorn, what to do?

If your rabbit has eaten small doses of homemade popcorn, with little oil, no preservatives, and no salt, this intake can be harmless and have no side effects. In all cases, it is advisable to offer fresh and clean water to the rabbit.

However, if the rabbit has ingested a large amount of industrial popcorn, it is likely to have digestive problems such as diarrhea. He may also be very thirsty and want to drink water because of excessive salt consumption.

In the most severe cases, there can be poisoning in the rabbit, in which case there is excessive salivation, uncontrollable urine, and other abnormal signs. In these cases, you must urgently go to the veterinarian for specialized treatment.

When it comes to popcorn, veterinarians say it all depends on the amount and how often they eat.  This means that if they eat once in a while, it is not dangerous for the rabbit.

To fit the pet’s consumption it should be natural: no butter, sugar, or salt. Give popcorn and wait a few minutes to give another. It’s not about letting the rabbit eat the whole bag unattended.

Try making popcorn yourself. Make sure they do not contain flavors or additives that can cause digestive problems for the rabbit. If you follow all these guidelines, you have “permission” to give your rabbit popcorn.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, it is not recommended to give rabbits popcorn. Although popcorn is non-toxic, always avoid feeding it to your bunny. Giving them popcorn will only cause digestive distress and complications such as bloating. If you, therefore, want to treat your bunny go for fresh leafy greens.

Hutch and Cage.com does not provide veterinary advice. Our aim is to provide the reader with information to enable them to make a good decision when making a purchase or caring for their pet. All content is therefore for informational purposes only. If you're concerned about the health of your pet you should seek medical advice from a vet.