Rabbit meat is an often overlooked meat source for human and dog consumption alike. You may not be able to find rabbit meat on the shelves of your local grocery stores, but rabbit meat is often available at local markets, butchers, and specialty meat stores.
There is also a small selection of commercial dog foods that use Rabbit meat as an ingredient. Rabbit meat is often considered to be Novel Meat and can be fed to dogs with severe dietary allergies or sensitivities.
Other examples of Novel Meats could be Kangaroo, Venison, and Aligator. Find out more about Novel Meat Diets and how to deal with allergies in dogs in our Best Hypoallergenic Dog Food Guide.
The primary Logic behind feeding dog novel meats such as Rabbit meat is that most dogs will not have eaten rabbit meat previously and so are less likely to experience an adverse allergic reaction to the rabbit meat in comparison to more traditional meat ingredients such as Chicken or Beef.
However, Rabbit meat can also be fed to dogs without any allergies or sensitivities, as if it were any of the other common meat ingredients. Rabbit has a distinct taste which may be appealing to your dog either as a treat or on a regular basis.
For those unfamiliar with food allergies for pets, we’d recommend reading this short summary by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
Rabbit Nutrition for Dogs
Rabbit meat is relatively low in fat and contains less fat per pound than the popular red meats such as Beef or Pork. While animal fat is essential to a dog’s diet, lower levels of fat can be advantageous to a select number of dogs. This includes senior dogs, dogs attempting weight loss, and dogs that are less active.
Not only can dog foods with lower levels of fat help with weight loss, but they can also be used to prevent weight gain or obesity, which is a fast-growing problem for dogs as owners are over-generous with treats or don’t monitor their dog’s food intake.
Rabbit meat has a generous proportion of protein. Protein from animals and fish is advantageous when compared to plant-based protein as it contains the full range of amino acids. Also, some studies show that animal protein is more easily absorbed by a dog’s digestive system than plant-based protein.
Therefore protein from meat such as Rabbit should be at the core of any dog’s nutrition profile. A dog food formula that contains a sufficient proportion of rabbit meat will provide adequate protein for the growth, repair, and maintenance of a dog’s muscles.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most abundant in Rabbit meat. Vitamin B12 is vital for the health of a dog’s nervous system. If a dog suffered from a lack of Vitamin B12, this could negatively affect their senses, such as their sight, hearing, and smell. Other common sources of Vitamin B12 are organ meat and fish like Trout.
Rabbit meat is high in some crucial minerals such as Phosphorous. Phosphorous is vital in a dog’s diet as it plays a role in the repair and maintenance of the body’s cells, especially a dog’s bones and teeth.
While balancing the intake of phosphorus and calcium in a dog’s diet is an elaborate and complicated discussion, it is simple enough to say that rabbit meat can positively contribute to this balance. Find out more about the importance of balancing minerals such as phosphorous in large and giant breed puppies in our Best Puppy Food Article.
Selenium is another essential mineral that Rabbit meat has high levels of. Selenium has two primary purposes for dogs; firstly, it aids the body’s immune system, which is critical to avoid sickness and fight off dangerous infections.
Secondly, Selenium is critical in maintaining proper thyroid function in dogs and humans, and therefore, an appropriate quantity of Selenium in a dog’s diet can help avoid thyroid-related conditions.
Is Rabbit Meat or Rabbit Dog Food Expensive?
The cost of Rabbit meat varies significantly and is primarily dependant on where in the world you are located. For example, in many European countries such as Spain, rabbit meat is relatively inexpensive. Whereas in other countries such as the United States of America, fresh rabbit meat is hard to acquire and can often be quite expensive.
Contrary to popular belief, Rabbits can be farmed similarly to other more traditional farm animals such as chickens, cows, or pigs. This is a necessary evil for Rabbit meat to be affordable as modern farming techniques lower the overall cost of meat production. Most, if not all, Rabbit meat found in the dog food mentioned in this article will be from Rabbit farms as they need an abundant and reliable source in order to maintain production.
We have found that many of the dog food formulas that contain Rabbit meat are not notably more expensive than recipes that include traditional meats. For this reason, you should not become overly concerned about Rabbit dog food formulas being more costly unless you are attempting to buy fresh Rabbit to create your own homemade dog food.
However, dog food with Rabbit is certainly not going to be some of the cheapest available, and formulas that focus on meats such as Chicken may be a better bet if you are on a tight budget. Be sure to check out our article on the Best Dog Food At Walmart for some of the best low-cost dog food formulas that you can buy.
The Unique Benefits of Rabbit Farming
As we have discovered, Rabbit meat certainly seems to be an excellent source of nutrition for dogs, but it also has some other notable benefits which many of us wouldn’t be aware of or would overlook. While these factors may not directly benefit your dog, they are nevertheless worth noting.
Rabbit meat is one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable meats to produce. In comparison to traditional meats such as Beef, Rabbits can consume as little as six times less feed or water to provide the same quantity of meat. Also, Rabbits need a far smaller space to thrive than other farm animals. In many European countries, where farming land is at a premium, Rabbits could provide an efficient solution to this problem without having to resort to factory farming or imports.
Rabbit fur is also in high demand, which ensures that none of the Rabbit is wasted. Rabbit fur has a range of uses, such as being used to produce fur clothing, part of stuffing within toys or pillows, or used to create complete sets of bedding. The fur is easily workable and dyeable, which is a significant advantage. While many consumers would frown upon the use of animals furs in clothing, it is no different from leather, which is harvested from livestock cows and used to produce shoes, clothes, and other products that almost all of us use.
Best Dog Foods With Rabbit
The Original range by Nature’s Variety Instinct is one of our favorite to date. Instinct’s recipes use high-quality ingredients to provide excellent nutrition at a very competitive price in comparison to other premium dog food brands. The Original range has a range of other none-rabbit formulas such as recipes with Beef, Chicken, and Salmon as their core meat or fish ingredient.
Their Rabbit formula, however, is one of their best recipes. It combines a significant portion of Rabbit meat with other high-quality ingredients like fresh Salmon and Whitefish. These fish ingredients provide high levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which are proven to be beneficial and can help keep your dog’s skin and coat in excellent condition, while the large portion of rabbit meat provides a superb proportion of protein, far above most formulas.
The Rabbit recipe also includes whole Chickpeas and Tapioca, which are both considered high-quality sources of carbohydrates and fiber for healthy digestion. Tapioca is a little-known ingredient but is common in South America. Find out more about Tapioca in our article Tapioca In Dog Food. Finally, the formula contains Tomato Pomace, which provides soluble fiber and small quantities of fruits like Cranberries and Apples.
Merrick is another well-known brand in the high-quality pet food sphere. Their grain-free range is self-explanatory and only uses vegetable ingredients like Peas and Chickpeas with high-quality meat and fish ingredients. One of the most notable advantages of Merrick is that they produce a vast range and variety of formulas, so there is almost always one that would appeal to your dog.
Merrick’s recipes also include small portions of fruit ingredients like Apples and Blueberries. Fruit such as Blueberries can provide beneficial antioxidants and vitamins to aid your health. Merrick’s Rabbit recipe is somewhat unique in that it uses Chickpeas as its primary source of carbohydrates rather than the vast majority of Merrick formulas that make use of Peas. Many dogs are allergic or experience intolerances when they consume Peas. Find out more about Pea allergies and the alternatives in our Best Dog Food Without Peas article.
While Rabbit may be the primary meat source present, other meat ingredients are also present. Examples of these ingredients include Pork, Lamb, and Turkey. These additional meat ingredients alongside Rabbit are all ideally suited to a dog’s diet and are highly digestible. However, the large number and variety of meat ingredients present may make this formula unsuitable for those looking to undergo a novel meat diet because of severe allergies.
Earthborn Holistic’s Venture range is a group of limited ingredient formulas. They each combine a single high-quality source of meat or fish with a mix of vegetable ingredients. Limited Ingredients are designed to help dog owners identify allergies or intolerances by eliminating the vast majority of ingredients. Owners can then reintroduce ingredients to identify an allergy.
Some examples of formulas in the Venture range without Rabbit meat include Alaska Pollock Meal and Pumpkin, Squid and Chickpeas, and Duck Meal and Pumpkin. While we won’t discuss these in this article, they are noteworthy and worthy of exploration.
The Rabbit formula from Earthborn Holistic uses Rabbit Meal as its primary source of Rabbit, which is a concentrated form of rabbit meat, which has had most of its moisture removed. Many people look down upon meat meal and consider it to be low-quality. However, this is undeserved, and meat meal can be advantageous as it is a much denser source of protein and fat than whole meat.
The formula also contains Peas and Pumpkin, which are both high-quality vegetables that can provide carbohydrates and plenty of dietary fiber to aid digestion. Pumpkin, in particular, is a fantastic inclusion as it contains a number of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Nature’s Logic is a lesser-known dog food brand, but that doesn’t diminish its strengths. Nature’s Logic produces a range of formulas, including some less common meat and fish ingredients such as Sardine, Venison, Lamb, and Rabbit. Many of these are considered Novel Meat ingredients, which can make Nature’s Logic very appealing to those dogs with severe allergies.
One of the most significant advantages of Nature’s Logic is that they very clearly display a vast range of nutritional and Ingredient information on their website, which is far more than their competitors. The information provided includes accurate levels of a wide variety of micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
They also show you exactly where their ingredients are sourced on an easy to distinguish map. This level of transparency is unheard of and shows they are passionate about dog nutrition and not ashamed of the nutrition their formulas provide or the source of their ingredients, which is something that many other dog food brands could not say with confidence.
Their Rabbit Formula is very high in protein, which, as we discussed earlier, should be at the core of every dog’s diet. The formula also contains Turkey and Pork Liver. Pork Liver can provide unique minerals and vitamins that traditional meat cuts can not.
Unfortunately, the formula does use a single grain as its source of carbohydrates. Millet isn’t considered a high-quality source of carbohydrates, but for those dogs who do not have difficulty digesting Millet or experience with other vegetable ingredients like Peas or Potatoes, it may be acceptable.
Holistic Select used to be part of the Eagle Pack brand, but it is now it’s a stand-alone brand. The WellPet group of pet food brands owns Holistic Select, and they also own other well-known brands such as Wellness and Old Mother Hubbard.
As we mentioned previously in this article, Rabbit is lower in fat than other more traditional meats. Holistic Select’s Rabbit & Lamb Meals formula is a prime example of this. With less than 30% of its calories being derived from fat while still maintaining a high protein proportion, it is a very viable formula for dogs who need a low-fat diet. This could include older dogs who are not as active as they were in their youth or those dogs who are overweight and are attempting weight loss.
The formula uses a range of legumes and pumpkin to provide its carbohydrate content and is free of any grains or by-products. These vegetables also offer an ample portion of fiber to aid digestion.
Lastly, the formula has a very satisfactory proportion of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids, one of the highest of any dog food formulas without fish ingredients, which is a notable positive. The low levels of fat and high levels of the Omega 3 Fatty Acids could make this formula very appealing to senior dogs. Find out more about Senior dog nutrition in our Best Senior Dog Food article.
Blue Buffalo is often considered the king of many large commercial pet food stores such as PetSmart. You can usually find dozens of recipes available for dogs of all shapes and sizes, as well as recipes for cats.
Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness line is a grain-free range. There is a vast number of formulas available with all the typical meat and fish ingredients you can imagine. Some examples include Chicken, Salmon, and Duck. However, one of those formulas in the wilderness range contains Rabbit meat which, as you are now aware, is a much less common ingredient.
The Rabbit recipe also includes Chicken and Menhaden Fish. Menhaden Fish are small oily fish from the Atlantic Ocean that are commonly included in pet food to provide additional protein at an affordable cost. Menhaden Fish could be considered a superior source of supplemental protein in comparison to vegetables.
The formula also contains Peas and some Pea by-products like Pea Protein. Unfortunately, we don’t look upon Pea-byproducts too favorably as they are often used to inflate overall protein levels in dog food formulas. Thankfully the portion of Pea Protein present is not too significant, but it is still worth mentioning.
Wild Calling is a Brand that is not commonly stocked outside of the Western United States and is one that most consumers may not be familiar with. However, they are in the select club of brands that produce formulas that include Rabbit meat. In particular, they produce a recipe that has Rabbit as its only significant meat ingredient.
The formula uses a mix of whole Rabbit and Rabbit Meal that we discussed earlier. While slightly different in nutrition, this is ideal for a dog looking to consume just a single source of meat due to allergies. A broad range of legumes and starches are also present, including Sweet Potatoes, Tapioca, Lentils, and Peas. This more extensive range of starch and vegetable ingredients may make this formula unsuitable for those dogs who react poorly to vegetable ingredients.
However, the proportion of protein in this formula is less than satisfactory, which means it is less suitable for dogs who are active. Also, the large portion of starches gives the formula a very high proportion of carbohydrates in comparison to other formulas discussed in this article. However, for those dogs who are less active, such as senior dogs, this could be a potential option.
Homemade Dog Food With Rabbit Meat
Didn’t like the look of any of the above dog food formulas? Then maybe you should try making your own. While you might not be able to pick up Rabbit at your local grocery store, it is commonly available from local markets, butchers or specialists. You could then combine this Rabbit meat with fresh fruit and vegetables to provide your dog with balanced nutrition.