I like to browse pet supplies in the store and online and look at what all the different brands offer in the way of food and treats for rabbits. And, it really shocks me at how many of the foods are:
filled with treats
filled with ingredients that rabbits should not be eating!
I have also noticed that there are a lot of treats on sale that should not be fed to rabbits, that many of these foods and treats use faulty and untruthful advertising, and have really bad instructions.
So... since the brands of food and treats that have one or more of the above issues far outweigh the food and treats that are actually healthy and really are made for rabbits, I am making this post.
Rabbit foods (pellets) to AVOID:
Whenever buying food for any pet do your research. You should be able to know what they need in their diet, what they don't need in their diet, and what is unhealthy for them. This way when you go to the store you can avoid purchasing food that is not the best for your rabbit.
The first thing to do when buying rabbit food is to look for plain pellets. Once you narrow that down (buy this time there are probably only a few brands left to choose from. A lot of rabbit food are full on unhealthy treats and seeds), check the ingredients. The first ingredient should be timothy hay. Not alfalfa. (unless your rabbit is a baby, then you want the ones with alfalfa.) After that there should not be much more ingredients. You may see things like wheat middlings, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative). Those are fine. But here is what you want to avoid:
ingredients such as treats or seeds
potato (every rabbit expert will advise you against feeding your rabbit potatoes. they are not good for them and not natural. Wild rabbits do not eat potatoes.)
vegetables (vegetables should be given as fresh leafy greens such as romaine lettuce mixed with some herbs daily with just a small amount of veggies such as carrots)
This list could go on forever but those are the main things to watch out for.
Another thing to check is to make sure that the protein content is fairly low and the fiber content is HIGH.
Another thing you can check is the best by date. Rabbit foods do go bad. (although the dates usually don't expire for at least a year, so finding a bag that is past the date is a pretty rare thing.)
Here are some good brands:
Oxbow. This is the best rabbit pellet you can find in the U.S. The adult formula is timothy hay based and has the highest fiber content around at 25 %. They also make a juvenile rabbit formula based on alfalfa. Rabbits also love the taste of these pellets. Another thing I like is that the instructions on the back are actually good instructions.
Mazuri. These pellets are pretty good. They are almost up to Oxbow standards with the exception that the fiber content is lower. I am currently feeding this to Munchkin. I prefer to feed him Oxbow, but the Petco near me doesn't carry it, and Petsmart has been out of it for a couple of weeks. The only thing about this brand that really bugs me is that the instructions tell you to free feed them to the rabbit and that you don't need to feed them anything else. Which is not true. Rabbits pellets should be limited and they need unlimited hay and some veggies every day. A rabbit only fed pellets is not as healthy and generally overweight.
This is sad to say, but I can't think of any other really good rabbit food brand. There are some good ones you can find online, such as Science Selective (which actually comes from the UK) and others, but you won't find those in US pet stores.
Brands to AVOID!!!
Previously this brand wasn't too bad, just had some extra grains and stuff in it, but I was looking at the ingredients on their new formula and I was appalled. For many reasons:
it is alfalfa based (fine for babies but not adults)
spinach (fine for rabbits in SMALL quantities. Fed daily and it can become toxic enough to kill your rabbit.)
onions (Major NO-NO. Onions are really bad for pretty much any pet. Especially rabbits. Too much can be toxic and even a teeny bit can cause gas, which can lead to gastreointestinal stasis which is a common killer of rabbits.)
leeks (which is basically like an onion for rabbits)
tomatoes (rabbits should never be fed tomatoes, they can't handle the acids)
peanuts (not especially harmful, but they are not good for rabbits)
dates (talk about a high sugar content. Dates are one of the top ingredients in this food along with molasses, carrots, apples, and pineapples. That is like us eating cake and cookies for all of our meals.)
egg (okay, an egg is pretty much a meat. Rabbits are herbivores. An egg should definitely not be in a rabbits diet.)
The rest is basically all soy which isn't very digestible, and rabbits already have a complicated digestive system so giving them food full of undigestible ingredients isn't going to be great. Soy is basically just a filler. The rabbit won't be able to get nutrients from it.
And I just have to say that they put a picture of a tomato right on the front of the bag. Which I don't think will help sales because every rabbit owner I know knows not to feed tomatoes to rabbits.
Other brands to avoid are Grreat Choice ( a very cheap low quality brand), All living things, Nutriphase, any Kaytee brand (I like their hay, but their food is bascially all treats with a few pellets thrown in the mix.) and I know there is more but I can't think of it all.
And I have to mention treats:
Only feed all natural treats. Fresh fruits are good treats. Oxbow brands are good treats.
Avoid treats with potato and other ingredients rabbits shouldn't eat.
I have recently noticed a lot of candy- coated treats for rabbits and yogurt drops. Yogurt drops are okay once in a great, great while, but pets should not be fed candy- coated anything. Candy is for human consumption. Also avoid sugar coated treats. I have seen a lot of those. Rabbits are not meant to eat a lot of sugar.