Can Dogs Live on Rabbit Meat?

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Introduction

You may have noticed that dog foods can contain a variety of different kinds of meats and seafood. Meat and seafood provide valuable protein that your dog needs to live. One of these protein sources is rabbit meat. Rabbit meat is a good source of protein for dogs, but can they live on just rabbit meat alone?

The answer is no. Dogs need more than just meat to stay healthy. Fruits, vegetables, and other protein sources provide vitamins and minerals that your dog can’t get through eating rabbit alone. While some people are moving their dogs onto raw rabbit diets, it may not be the best option for your pooch.

Signs Dogs Can't Live Off Only Rabbit Meat

Rabbit meat is a healthy protein choice for dogs, but even the healthiest food can’t be the only sustenance that your dog consumes. Even though rabbit is low in sodium and has a low caloric content when compared to other proteins, it isn’t the best way to feed your dog. Rabbit contains a number of different vitamins and minerals, but it doesn’t contain everything your dog needs.

For example, dogs need omega fatty acids to keep their coats and skin healthy, but rabbit doesn’t contain these fatty acids. That means that your dog needs to get those nutrients from another source. Whether you feed your dog fish, supplements, or a dog food that contains omega fatty acids, you need to find a way to get your dog those vital nutrients.

If your dog isn’t having its nutritional needs met, you may notice that it has gastrointestinal problems. Dogs who are malnourished can also be weak and lethargic. You may notice that your dog is no longer interested in food and water. All of these signs require a trip to the veterinarian to see what the problem is. If you discover that your dog is malnourished, work with your vet to come up with a better diet for your pooch.

Body Language

If your dog isn't having its nutritional needs met, you may notice some of the following body language cues:
  • Whining
  • Weakness
  • Low tail carriage
  • Drooling
  • Sweaty paws

Other Signs

Other signs that your pooch isn't getting the food they need include:
  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat quality
  • Digestion issues

History of Dogs Eating Rabbit Meat

Historically, dogs have been known to eat rabbit meat. Wild dogs would eat any small mammal that they could catch and kill, and rabbits were some of the best targets for them. Some dogs were specifically bred to hunt small rodents, such as rabbits, after domestication.

Just because dogs ate rabbits in the wild doesn’t mean that they should only eat rabbit meat. Wild dogs would eat whatever they could find. This means that they didn’t eat solely rabbit meat. Just as wild dogs would eat multiple kinds of protein, pet dogs should do the same.

Dogs need nutrients that can’t be found in rabbit meat. If you were to feed your dog a whole rabbit, you would be giving them access to the stomach contents, which would contain plant matter that dogs need for vitamins and minerals. Since most dog owners don’t have access to whole dead rabbits, it can be hard for you to provide the stomach for your dog. Plus, organ meat provides different nutrients than muscle meat, so your dog should also have other organs, like liver.

Instead, either give your dog a commercial dog food or work with a vet to come up with a more balanced diet for your dog.

Science Behind a Dog's Diet

Dogs have specific nutritional needs—just like humans. When it comes to what your dog needs to eat, you probably know that they need meat, but does the kind of meat matter?

If you are feeding your dog a commercial dog food, the answer is no. Dog foods contain all kinds of additional vitamins and minerals that help support your dog’s health. These foods contain meat, but they also have fruits, vegetables, and grains in them. These other foods contain things that can’t be found in just meat, but are vital to your dog’s health.

If you are feeding a homemade or raw diet, the kind of meat should change from time-to-time to provide different nutrients. You should also include fruits and vegetables in these diets.

Creating a Diet for Your Dog

It is no surprise that dogs need meat to live. If you want your dog to live on a raw meat diet, you should consider varying the meats that your dog consumes. It is also important that you allow your dog to eat the stomach contents of the animal as well, as in the wild, they would get partially digested plant matter from their prey’s stomach. Organ meat, such as the liver and kidneys of animals, also contains different nutrients. In many cases, your dog won’t have access to these nutrients if you don’t feed them organ meat.

Dogs need different kinds of meat, fruits, and vegetables to get all the nutrients that they need. If you want to feed your dog a homemade diet, all of these elements should be included. Different protein sources contain different nutrients and fat contents as well. Be sure that you vary foods to assure that your dog gets everything that it needs in its diet. 

If you ever want to change your dog’s diet, you should first speak with a vet. A veterinarian can help you come up with a plan that provides your dog with a balanced diet that can meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs. Without the help of a vet, you could end up depriving your dog of vital nutrients, and your dog could end up ill. Overfeeding is also very common in dogs that are put on a specialized diet that has been veterinarian-approved.

Safety Tips for Feeding Your Dog:

  • Prevent malnutrition with a balanced diet.
  • Speak to a veterinarian before changing your dog's diet.
  • If you notice changes in your dog after a change in diet, see a veterinarian.

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