Rabbits can eat spinach—but in small amounts and in moderation. Their diet should include high-quality hay and plenty of clean water. Rabbits can enjoy a side of commercial pellets as well as a smaller portion of leafy green vegetables.
How often can rabbits eat spinach? Why can rabbits only eat spinach on occasion? Is it true that rabbits are allergic to spinach?
We have all the answers. In this article, we will dive into the nutritional value of spinach and examine why you should be feeding it sparingly. We will discuss the dangers of overfeeding your rabbit spinach, and finally, we will answer your questions.
Is It Safe To Feed My Rabbit Spinach?
Spinach is safe for rabbits, provided that they eat it in moderation. Unlike most leafy green vegetables, spinach is rich in calcium and high in oxalates. Feeding your rabbits more than what’s required will have serious health consequences in the long run.
Rabbits older than 12 weeks can eat spinach. Always introduce your rabbit to new foods like spinach slowly to avoid upsetting their digestive system.
Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly before feeding your rabbit. Organically grown spinach is highly favored as most farmers use pesticides and chemicals on their crops. Never feed your rabbit frozen spinach or spinach from a can—the fresher the spinach, the better.
Make sure to spread out the leaves of the spinach. Spinach tends to wilt quickly, turns yellow, and becomes moldy or slimy. Remove uneaten spinach leaves from your rabbit’s enclosure when they’re done eating. Eating rotten and moldy spinach leaves will upset your rabbit’s stomach.
The Benefits of Spinach for Rabbits
Spinach is a good source of vitamins B9, C, K, and E, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. The stalks of spinach are higher in fiber compared to the leaves.
If you grow your own spinach, make sure to remove the roots fully before offering it to your bunny. The roots of the spinach plant have high levels of sugar and shouldn’t be given to your rabbit to eat.
The stalks and stems are the healthiest part of spinach. The fiber found in the stalks and the stems is beneficial to a rabbit’s digestion. Due to the lack of constant movement of a rabbit’s stomach, they rely on fiber to help with their digestion.
Spinach is also high in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which is essential to the development of young rabbits. Vitamin A keeps your bunny’s bones and teeth healthy as well as being a safe choice for keeping its skin in good condition.
Iron found in the leaves of spinach is essential in preventing anemia in rabbits and boosts their metabolism. Vitamin K prevents your rabbit’s blood from thickening, and calcium is beneficial for strong teeth and bones. Vitamin B9, as well as magnesium in spinach, fight off heart disease.
The spinach leaf is made up of 91% water. This will ensure that your rabbit remains hydrated. However, the water content in spinach is not a substitute for fresh and clean water. Always make sure your rabbit has access to plenty of water.
The Dangers of Eating Too Much Spinach
While spinach has some benefits for rabbits, there are risks to their health if overfed. Limiting the amount of spinach and the frequency to twice a week makes this a safer option. Spinach has high levels of oxalates that can be harmful to your rabbit.
Oxalates, or oxalic acid, is a plant-based compound found in spinach and other vegetables. This plant-based compound is rich in many nutrients and is a naturally occurring organic acid. The oxalate binds with magnesium, calcium, and other vitamins that can cause kidney stones in both humans and rabbits.
In large quantities and over a period of time, oxalates can become toxic. Too much spinach can affect your rabbit’s urinary tract. Signs of urinary issues are exhaustion, loss of appetite, frequent urination that comes out in trickles. Seek medical assistance should your rabbit display any symptoms.
Look out for itchy skin and itchiness around the mouth, and stop feeding your rabbit spinach immediately. When oxalates bind the magnesium and calcium found in spinach, it can cause painful kidney stones in rabbits.
A rabbit’s digestive system is quite sensitive. Overfeeding them with spinach can cause gastrointestinal stasis. When your rabbit experiences a change in the gastrointestinal bacteria, GI stasis occurs, which is the slowing of food through the GI tract and can be fatal. Seek medical assistance if you suspect your rabbit of having gastrointestinal stasis.
Gastrointestinal stasis occurs when rabbits are fed a diet high in sugar, high in carbohydrates, and low in fiber. Rabbits need fiber to help keep their bowel movements regular.
When introducing your rabbits to new foods like spinach, keep an eye out for any changes in the behavior. Rabbits can suffer from diarrhea if they are overfed with new foods like spinach. Should diarrhea persist for more than 24 hours, take your rabbit to the vet.
Rabbits can have allergic reactions to foods like spinach. Warning signs that your rabbit is suffering from an allergic reaction are as follows:
- Red, watery eyes.
- Clear discharge from the nose.
- Using its paws to excessively scratch and rub the face.
- Rubbing its face on the ground.
- Dry sneezing.
Remove spinach from your rabbit’s diet if you notice an allergic reaction.
Too much vitamin A can damage your rabbit’s joints. Because spinach is high in folic acid, excessive amounts of folic acid could have an adverse effect on the nervous system of rabbits. Vitamin K1 in large amounts can be toxic to a rabbit’s liver, and excessive amounts of calcium can lead to urinary tract infections.
Because rabbits can produce vitamin C and spinach contains high levels of vitamin C, rabbits that are fed larger quantities of spinach are at risk of kidney damage.
Too much calcium in your rabbit’s diet risks them getting bladder sludge. Symptoms of bladder sludge include blood in their urine, struggling to urinate, and white crystals in their urine. Your vet will need to be consulted on the best possible way to treat rabbits suffering from bladder sludge.
Rabbits produce cecotropes and they excrete them through their anus. Cecotropes are not feces and resemble bunched-up grapes. Your rabbit will eat the cecotropes, which are packed with nutrients that are vital to the health of your rabbit. Overfeeding your rabbit spinach leads to soft cecotropes, which will be left uneaten.
The Good Stuff and The Bad Stuff
When feeding your rabbit spinach, avoid mixing the leafy green vegetable with other vegetables that are high in oxalates. These vegetables include chard, parsley, beets, radish, and celery.
Vegetables that do pair well with spinach are romaine lettuce, mint, cucumber, rosemary, bok choy, basil, and cilantro. Baby spinach leaves have lower levels of oxalates and are smaller in size. Mixing it with dark leafy greens will be beneficial to your rabbit’s diet.
Should your rabbit not enjoy eating spinach, there are healthier alternatives that are low in oxalates that you can try:
- Carrot tops.
- Red or green lettuce.
- Romaine lettuce.
- Turnip greens.
- Dandelion greens.
- Mint (any variety).
- Basil (any variety).
- Cucumber leaves.
- Raspberry leaves.
- Borage leaves.
- Dill leaves.
- Bok Choy.
- Yu Choy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Rabbits Eat the Spinach Stems?
Yes, the stems of spinach are safe for rabbits to eat. The stalks and the stems have the most fiber as opposed to the leaves of spinach..
Can My Rabbit Eat the Roots of Spinach?
The roots of spinach contain high levels of sugar and it is not recommended, so avoid feeding your rabbit the roots.
How Often Can Rabbits Eat Spinach?
Spinach should be given in moderation. Twice a week is fine, and feeding your rabbit one or two leaves mixed in with other leafy green vegetables is ideal.
Can Rabbits Eat Frozen, Cooked, and Canned spinach?
No, rabbits should never eat frozen spinach or cooked or canned spinach. Rabbits are incapable of digesting cooked foods and it will cause a blockage that could result in death. The fresher the spinach, the better it will be for your rabbit.
While spinach is safe for rabbits to eat, the recommended amount should be two leaves mixed in with other leafy green vegetables. Rabbits should not be fed spinach more than twice a week. The stems and stalks are safe for them; however, avoid feeding your rabbit the roots of spinach.
Rabbits older than 12 weeks can eat spinach in moderation. Baby rabbits should never be fed any spinach or other vegetables. Always introduce your rabbit to new foods like spinach slowly, as it can disrupt their sensitive digestive system.
Overfeeding your rabbit spinach across extended periods will be detrimental to their health. The high levels of oxalates will cause your rabbit to get painful kidney stones as well as suffer kidney damage.
Be sure to wash spinach thoroughly before feeding it to your rabbit. Avoid mixing spinach with vegetables high in oxalates. The bulk of your rabbit’s diet should be high-quality hay.