Can Rabbits Eat Lemon? Is It Safe for Rabbits?

Lemon is a common yellow fruit used all around the world for culinary as well as non-culinary purposes. As it is extensively used for cooking purposes, it is one of those things that most of us tend to leave on the kitchen counter. If you are a rabbit owner, it is probable that your little bunny might grab it and try to eat it. Here comes the question, can rabbits eat lemon? Is it safe or toxic for them?

Technically speaking, rabbits cannot eat a lemon. However, there is a ‘But’ in it. Rabbits can have a small amount of lemon as it will not adversely affect them. But, there is a thin line between safe and unhealthy. It is fitting that there is no immediate danger to your bunny if it consumes lemon, but some ill effects can be seen after some time. The high citric acid content in lemon can create issues in the rabbit’s digestive system and cause some other problems too.

So, let’s discuss in detail why lemons are not recommended for rabbits to eat.

Rabbits And Lemon: What You Need To Know?

Lemons are one of the citrus fruits and contain around 6% citric acid, which makes this fruit extremely sour. In general, rabbits like to have sugary food, and sour and bitter fruits like lemon don’t really attract them.

Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and contain an adequate amount of antioxidants. This is why many rabbit owners think of adding some lemon juice to their rabbit’s diet. But, lemon is not recommended for rabbits. It is because of the presence of high citric acid content in lemons.

If a large quantity of citric acid is ingested into rabbits, it can disturb their digestive microflora and even cause other issues like diarrhea, obesity, and irritation in the mouth. However, feeding your bunny a small amount of this citrus fruit on an occasional basis as a treat is acceptable.

If we look at various ingredients of lemon, there is no evidence of any type of toxicity for rabbits in it. The main concern is relating to high citric acid content only. The nutritional value present in 100g of lemon as per the USDA database is:

Energy121 kJ (29 kcal) 
Carbohydrates9.32 g 
Sugars2.5 g 
Dietary fiber2.8 g 
Fat0.3 g 
Protein1.1 g 
   
VitaminsQuantity%DV
Thiamine (B1)0.04 mg3%
Riboflavin (B2)0.02 mg2%
Niacin (B3)0.1 mg1%
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.19 mg4%
Vitamin B60.08 mg6%
Folate (B9)11 μg3%
Choline5.1 mg1%
Vitamin C53 mg64%
   
MineralsQuantity%DV
Calcium26 mg3%    
Iron  0.6 mg5%  
Magnesium8 mg2%  
Manganese0.03 mg1%  
Phosphorus16 mg2%  
Potassium138 mg3%  
Zinc0.06 mg1%

One of the research on the effect of citrus lemon on the liver of rabbits showed results that rabbits could be fed lemon as there was no effect of up to 75% citrus lemon on the liver of rabbits.

Another research done on dried lemons suggested that dried lemons are safe for rabbits as they work as a growth additive in growing rabbits.

Hence, if you intend to give lemon to your bunny, you can consider giving it in small quantities. Don’t forget to remove pits or seeds. The maximum amount of lemon you can give as a treat to your rabbit is 1 teaspoon per 2 pounds of the bunny’s weight.

Another thing that you must keep in mind is that, like other fruits have sugar content, lemon also has some carbs and sugar. Consuming excess amounts of this fruit can promote bad bacteria in rabbits and lead to the shifting of hindgut microflora. Additionally, it can also result in weight gain and obesity.

Risks Of Feeding Lemon To Your Rabbit

Lemons can offer a lot of health benefits to humans, but that’s not the case with rabbits. Here are some of the risks of feeding lemon to rabbits:

Citric Acid Affects The Digestive System

As we already discussed earlier, a small amount of citric acid is ok for rabbits, but excess can cause issues. Excess consumption of citric acid causes harm to the digestive system of rabbits. It can result in stomach pains. An upset stomach will make the rabbit uncomfortable and less energetic, which will further result in weakness affecting the overall health of your bunny.

Choking Hazard

Always give fresh lemon to your rabbit, and don’t forget to remove its peel as well as seeds. The peel and seeds of this fruit are difficult to digest for rabbits. They are of considerable size, which can create blockage in the internals making the digestive system faulty.

Can Cause Vomiting And Nausea

Lemon juice and zest may be touted as beneficial for humans, but its cons overweighs the pros when it comes to rabbits. Consuming a large amount of lemon juice and zest can make your rabbit vomit and can even cause nausea.

So whenever you feed lemon to your bunny and notice some strange behavior, take your little pet to the vet immediately. It will help you to avoid any further issues.

Can Rabbits Drink Lemon Juice?

Lemon juice is basically the mixture of water with lemon pulp diluted in it. Due to the presence of water, the concentration will be limited, but still, there will be citric acid present in the juice. Additionally, as rabbits hate the sour taste, many people mix sugar in the juice to cover the sourness. This makes lemon juice even more dangerous for rabbits due to its high sugar content.

Feeding such a juice to your rabbit can lead to vomiting and nausea, along with lethargy for a prolonged period.

Can Your Feed Lemon Leaves To Rabbit?

As rabbit owners, we all know that rabbits are attracted and love chewing anything green like hay. Lemon leaves are safe for rabbits to consume. Just make sure to wash and clean the lemon leaves properly to get rid of any pesticides or toxic chemicals. You can mix these leaves with some hay and see your rabbit enjoy its delicious meal.

Are There Any Other Citrus Fruits That Are Dangerous To Rabbits?

Generally, almost all the citrus fruits that have a sour and bitter taste are not suitable for rabbits to eat.

Sweet lime and orange come under the safer category of citrus fruits. It is because they have more fructose content, beneficial for rabbits, than citric acid.

On the other hand, fruits like lemons, bitter orange, lime, grapefruit, etc., have got a high concentration of citric acid. That is why none of these are recommended for your little furry friend.

You should pay extra attention when it comes to bitter orange and grapefruit. These fruits do not just have high citric acid content, but their seed size is also big, which can block the digestive tract of your rabbit.

Conclusion

After reading the whole article, you may now have realized that the harmless-looking small lemons may not be toxic but can be harmful to your rabbit’s health.

The citric acid present in lemons can negatively affect your rabbit’s digestive system. It can upset your bunny’s stomach and can cause diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, and nausea. If you see anything unusual in your rabbit after feeding lemon to it, we recommend you to seek veterinary help immediately.