Cheese is one of the dairy products derived from cows, buffalo, sheep or goat milk. It comes in different forms, textures, and flavors and it is formed when casein, a milk protein is coagulated using rennet enzyme. However, there are some made from pureed soybeans i.e., soy cheese often used by vegans.
Cheese colors range from yellow to white to red and various herbs, spices, and other flavoring agents including garlic, chives, cranberries, black pepper and so on may be added.
Can I give my rabbits cheese?
No. Rabbits should not be given cheese. Note that any “dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset” such as gas, bloat, and so on. This is because these adult bunnies do not have enough amounts of lactase to help digest lactose present in this product and hence there might be indigestion problems.
Cheese is highly calorific, and it is loaded with proteins, fats, vitamins A, D, E, K, B complex, and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, selenium and so on. All these are nutrients that rabbits require. Their exact amounts might vary depending on whether it is Mozzarella, Swiss, Gouda, Feta, Cheddar, Brie, Bleu, Gruyere, Asiago and so on.
Whereas nutritionally this dairy product may seem healthy, it is not ideal for these pets as they are folivores that depend on high-fiber, low-energy foods such as grassy hays. Fiber is very important in ensuring a healthy gut and motility whereas cheese does not have fiber. Therefore, it may cause GI stasis.
Remember a little slice may turn the digestive system of this pet upside down and interfere with your pet’s hindgut digestion and normal microflora balance.
Also, being highly calorific, with lots of carbs (and sugars), as well as fats you may have to deal with rabbit obesity if you constantly feed them cheese.
To make matters worse, this dairy product has a lot of calcium and since rabbits must maintain a certain calcium-phosphorous balance ratio, it will strain your pet’s body as they try to get rid of the excess calcium. Note that these lagomorphs will absorb calcium amounts proportional to the amounts available in food.
Also avoid cheese nips (crackers flavored low-fat cheddar and other cheese types) and puffs (balls, curls, corn curls or corn cheese or puffed corn snack flavored or containing this dairy product) they will all cause the same problem we have mentioned.
Also avoid other dairy product including milk, butter, ice cream, among others. Place them where these pets cannot access them.
Can baby rabbits eat cheese?
Whereas they can digest their mother’s milk, they should not be given this diary product. They should be weaned with alfalfa, water, baby rabbit pellets as well as other healthy diets.
If the kit is orphaned, you could opt for the Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR) or goat milk but not this dairy product.
What about soybean cheese
Since they have high amounts of carbohydrates and proteins they are not recommended for rabbits. The high carbs can disrupt a bunny’s microflora, trigger enteritis, and other stomach upsets. Also, they can cause weight gain.
Even though it is harmful, if offered, this pet may eat cheese. Rabbits are curious and they will nibble almost anything offered to them. It is your responsibility to ensure you keep this dairy product or any harmful or toxic food away from this pet.
Always feed your furry friend with the recommended diets in their right proportion, i.e., grass hay should be provided in unlimited amounts with the rest being 10-15% fresh foods (leafy greens and treats of fruits and no-leafy vegetables) and about 5% high-fiber pellets. Do not forget to provide them with an unlimited amount of water that is clean and fresh.