Baking soda is a common household item in our homes and it is used for a variety of purposes. We use it as a leavening agent in baking, a deodorant or odor absorber, and as an antacid to get rid of acidity.
These uses clearly indicate that baking soda is quite safe for humans. However, when it comes to rabbits, the same compound may prove to be detrimental if our fluffy friends happen to ingest it in large amounts.
So, baking soda is generally not safe for bunnies. It can even become life-threatening after causing gastrointestinal dilation in a rabbit’s body. It’s very important to know these dangers if you have a rabbit at home.
If your rabbit happened to swallow just a tiny amount of baking soda, there is nothing to worry about. The amount that may produce too much gas in the rabbit’s stomach and cause it to break is actually dangerous or toxic for the rabbit.
Let’s find out why baking soda is dangerous for rabbits and how you can ensure your rabbit is safe from these dangers.
What is Baking Soda?
Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda is sodium bicarbonate in chemical terms. It consists of a sodium cation along with a bicarbonate anion. It’s a white solid substance but we are familiar with the powder form of baking soda, which is normally used in our households.
The light, fluffy texture of bread and cakes is attributed to this compound. It does it by producing carbon dioxide after reacting with an acid, which is usually lemon juice or vinegar. Adding just a pinch of baking soda to the cake or bread mixture is totally safe and it causes no harm.
Other than some household uses, baking soda also has a few health benefits for humans. From treating acid reflux, which is also known as heartburn, to soothe canker sores, humans can benefit from this compound in a number of ways.
Sodium bicarbonate supplements are also very common and they are prescribed by doctors to slow down chronic kidney disease and some other problems. However, only a controlled and limited amount of baking soda is added to these supplements making sure the amount is not toxic for humans.
Why is Baking Soda Dangerous for Rabbits?
While baking soda may sound like a miraculous natural substance that can be used for a number of purposes, it may not be as safe for rabbits as it is for humans.
Rabbits have sensitive stomachs and their internal systems also work differently than ours. For the treatment of acid reflux, sodium bicarbonate may help to induce vomiting in humans. This happens when an overwhelming amount of gas is produced inside the stomach, which is then released with the help of vomiting.
But since rabbits cannot vomit, ingestion of baking soda will cause gastrointestinal dilatation, which leads to rupture of the stomach or intestines in rabbits.
This is a very serious issue that can even cause the death of a rabbit if not treated on time. It is also quite painful and discomforting for the animal. Call a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your rabbit has accidentally swallowed baking soda.
However, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms first in order to understand that your rabbit is going through a tough time and needs care. In the next section, we will look at some of these signs so you can diagnose a case of GI dilatation in your bunny.
How Will a Rabbit with Gastrointestinal Dilatation React?
Your rabbit will suddenly become inactive and sluggish if he has developed gastrointestinal dilatation after swallowing baking soda.
He may refuse to eat and start grinding his teeth because of stomach discomfort and pain. Another sign that indicates this condition is a sudden drop in the rabbit’s temperature. When you notice these symptoms and also suspect that your bunny might have ingested baking soda, you should immediately seek emergency medical care.
What Happens If My Rabbit Inhales Baking Soda?
Some people may only be concerned about a rabbit swallowing baking soda. The truth is, inhaling baking soda can be equally dangerous for a rabbit. It can cause respiratory irritation leading to pneumonia in some cases.
As such, any type of powdery inhalant should be kept away from a rabbit’s cage. It is not recommended to add baking soda to a rabbit’s litter either. And if you use it for cleaning purposes, make sure you wash or wipe it clean thoroughly.
However, rabbits have a strong sense of smell and there are certain types of odors they absolutely hate. Scents like those of garlic, vinegar, sulfur, and lavender are not taken by rabbits in a positive way.
Some people also use baking soda to slow down fungus development and promote healthy plant growth in the garden. If your rabbit grazes in the garden and eats all types of vegetables planted there, you may sprinkle baking soda to keep rabbits from nibbling on each and every plant.
A rabbit will inhale the smell of baking soda on plants and will be hesitant to eat them. This is an effective tip to stop your bunnies from creating havoc in your garden.
How Much Baking Soda is Safe for Bunnies?
Baking soda is one of the things that are toxic for bunnies if ingested in large amounts. If your bunny accidentally eats just a little bit of baking soda, it won’t cause any harm. However, it’s important to keep the chemical away from him in order to ensure safety and minimize risk.
Too much baking soda may cause a pH imbalance in a rabbit’s intestinal tract. If his intestines are not acidic, it will become a problem for the animal.
It’s not recommended to add baking soda to a rabbit’s litter either. That is due to the fact that its salty taste may tempt the bunny to consume the litter. If you are adding baking soda to absorb the odor, try using a litter that is naturally odor absorbent.
Litters made from oat, alfalfa hay, aspen shavings, and citrus products absorb all types of smells effectively. Also, make sure that your rabbit’s bedding does not have baking soda in it. Safe and comfortable bedding for rabbits is one that is free of all types of toxins including baking soda.
Rabbit owners must be aware of the dangers of baking soda for bunnies. Ingesting or inhaling baking soda can lead to a number of internal health problems in bunnies and some of them can even prove to be fatal.
Stomach rupture is one of the most prevalent causes of death in rabbits. One of the reasons for this condition in bunnies is swallowing too much baking soda, which leads to gastrointestinal dilatation. It’s a serious condition in rabbits and may even cause death if not controlled.
You should watch out for symptoms of GI dilatation in your bunny especially if you suspect he has ingested baking soda. If he refuses to eat and appears to be in pain and discomfort, it’s a sign that he has an upset stomach. Further signs, such as a sudden drop in body temperature and a rabbit who is grinding his teeth are definitely pointing towards a GI dilatation.
Baking soda should be avoided at all costs when it comes to your pet bunny. Whether it’s related to cleaning the cage or putting in the litter for odor absorption, sodium bicarbonate is generally not safe for bunnies. If a rabbit accidentally ingests too much baking soda, it may even lead to his death.