Can rabbits eat yogurt or dairy products ?
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Yogurt or dairy products should never be fed to rabbits, for the following reasons:
- Lactobacillus/Acidobacillus are not a natural host of the adult rabbit intestinal and, if surviving the passage through the acid stomach, it will not survive the anaerobic conditions of the cecum. The lack of adhesive capability may further prevent Lactobacilli from colonizing in the intestinal tract.
- Adult rabbits naturally do not have the right bacteria to digest milk derivates in the cecum and intestine.
- In the absence of those Lactobacteria, milk derivates accelerate the onset of stasis in adult rabbits.
Studies have furthermore shown that rabbits that were given cow’s milk on a daily basis during several months evidenced the development of rheumatoid like lesions. These rabbits showed increased numbers of nucleated cells and raised percentages of T lymphocytes in their synovial fluids, compared to control rabbits, and their elevation corresponded with the severity of the histological lesions. No glomerulonephritis was observed.
Yogurt diluted in water can nevertheless help rabbit suffering from intestinal bacterial disturbances et diarrhea, by protecting the endemic bacterial flora and allowing it to grow.
Yogurt drops as treats ? Those should never be given to rabbits. They contain too much sugars, and can lead to tooth decay (observed in rabbits too).
Coombs RR, Oldham G. Early rheumatoid-like joint lesions in rabbits drinking cows' milk. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol. 1981;64(3):287-92.
Hanglow AC, Welsh CJ, Conn P, Coombs RR. Early rheumatoid-like synovial lesions in rabbits drinking cow's milk. II. Antibody responses to bovine serum proteins. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol. 1985;78(2):152-60.
Nakata M, Honma T, Noguchi Y, Yoneda S, Fukuda Y, Yoshida S, Takubo K. Morphological changes in rabbit pleura induced by Lactobacillus casei (LC9018). Gan To Kagaku Ryoho. 1987 Jul;14(7):2381-4.
Weber A, Christ-Vietor M, Schliesser T. Studies on bacterial intestinal flora of young rabbits in relation to diet and age. Zentralbl Bakteriol [Orig A]. 1974;229(1):109-16.
Welsh CJ, Hanglow AC, Conn P, Barker TH, Coombs RR. Early rheumatoid-like synovial lesions in rabbits drinking cow's milk. I. Joint pathology. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol. 1985;78(2):145-51.
Yu B, Tsen HY. Lactobacillus cells in the rabbit digestive tract and the factors affecting their distribution. J Appl Bacteriol. 1993 Sep;75(3):269-75.
Many thanks to Susan L. for her help.