Leafy greens are good for your bunny, but can rabbits eat spinach?
A rabbit's diet can be filled with various fruits, vegetables, hay, and pellets. Still, pet rabbits have sensitive digestive systems, so pet owners need to be careful about which fruits and veggies they use to supplement their rabbit's daily grass hay intake. A rabbit's daily diet should typically include a small amount of pellets and a bundle of Timothy hay equal to their size. Dark green leafy vegetables are full of nutrients like fiber and other essential vitamins. Rabbit owners should feed their bunny fresh vegetables with high nutritional value like collard greens, romaine lettuce, cilantro, beet greens, watercress, and carrot tops. With all those nutritious greens in a rabbit's diet, another common vegetable comes to mind: spinach. But can rabbits eat spinach?
Can Rabbits Eat Spinach?
Yes, rabbits can eat spinach--but only in moderation.
"Spinach provides a good amount of minerals, like potassium and iron, and vitamins, especially Vitamin A, necessary for rabbit growth," Dr. Alex Schechter, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care, tells WideOpenPets.com. "Along with that, spinach is high in fiber."
While the leafy green has plenty of nutritious vitamins and minerals, spinach can cause health problems in rabbits if they eat too much.
"It should be added in a smaller portion to the pet's diet as spinach contains oxalates," Schechter explains. "These are naturally occurring food toxins or organic acids that cause urinary tract issues. Also, if eaten in large portions, it can cause skin or mouth itchiness in the pet."
Tips for Feeding Rabbits Spinach
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When feeding spinach to your rabbit, you should always choose organic varieties, which are free from pesticides, and wash them before mealtime. Rabbits can eat many types of spinach, from baby spinach, which is typically lower in oxalates, to larger spinach leaves and stems. However, only feed them raw spinach that is fresh with no wilted leaves, because rabbits cannot digest cooked food properly. Schechter also recommends cutting off the roots of the vegetable, as they contain high amounts of sugar and don't offer many health benefits.
However, feeding your furry friend large amounts of spinach may be too rough on your rabbit's digestive system.
"When introducing veggies to your rabbit, you need to do so slowly and only give them in moderation," Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital, tells WideOpenPets.com. "Abruptly changing your rabbit's diet can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and GI stasis."
How Much Spinach Should I Feed My Rabbit?
So, exactly how much spinach can rabbits eat? According to the RSPCA, you should use your rabbit's body weight as a guide for fresh foods and rabbit food. For example, a small rabbit may not be able to handle any amount of spinach, while a larger rabbit can eat a small handful once every few days (but not more than twice a week). Healthy rabbits can enjoy a wide variety of vegetables daily and it is usually best to mix and match the greens. (Rabbits love a good mixed greens salad with a bit of carrot on top!) You should rotate your bunny's greens each week too.
However, spinach isn't the only green that rabbits should eat in moderation. House Rabbit Society recommends that rabbits only eat small portions of other high oxalate veggies, like mustard greens and Swiss chard. Regardless of what you feed your rabbit, new foods should always be introduced slowly to ensure that your pet can tolerate them.
In general, rabbits need to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of water, Timothy hay, small portions of rabbit food, and several servings of fruits and veggies. Just how much and what kind depends on the rabbit's age and the type of fruit or vegetable. For example, baby rabbits should not eat anything other than milk and small amounts of pellets. As rabbits get older, they can transition to an adult diet around seven months.
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READ MORE: True or False: Debunking 8 Common Myths About Rabbits as Pets
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