Since childhood, most of us have imagined bunnies binging on carrots and spinach (thanks to all bunnies animations!). However, when it comes to keeping rabbits as a pet in real, we see most of their diet is only hay. Fruits and vegetables are also important in the diet of rabbits. But, their amounts and frequencies are needed to be kept under check.
So, how do you add a variety of plant-based materials to the diet chart of your bunny? We have already talked about all the major items in the diet of a rabbit, and now it comes to one of the most popular items, i.e., spinach
Continue reading to learn everything about spinach in the diet of the bunny. We have discussed in detail the nutritional components, advantages, and disadvantages of the same. Moreover, how you can feed it to your rabbit.
Yes, Rabbits can eat spinach but in moderate amounts. The quantities of spinach are limited due to high amounts of oxalates.
Rabbits should have unlimited access to fresh hay and water. Around 80-90% of the daily food should come from hay. The remaining should come from high-quality pellets and fresh rabbit-safe vegetables. Consult your vet if you are uncertain of anything regarding your rabbits’ diet.
Spinach adds important nutrients and fibers to a rabbit diet. Always feed fresh spinach to your rabbit. Don’t give spinach that has gone bad or smelly. I always prefer the raw form of spinach over cooked form. It is because cooked spinach causes multiple digestive issues to bunnies. Arugula is a safe alternative for rabbits that don’t like to eat spinach.
How Much Spinach Can I Feed My Rabbit?
The Amount of spinach you feed to your rabbit depends on its weight and age. For younger and smaller rabbits, 2-3 small leaves are enough in one day. While for adult giant rabbits, you can serve up to ½ cup of spinach leaves.
Spinach has a high amount of calcium and oxalates. If you start feeding it in large amounts, it will cause extreme malnutrition and stone formation. So, you see, a blessing can easily become a curse when you overdo it.
Frequency Of Feeding Spinach To Rabbit:
Do not feed spinach more than 3 days a week to an adult giant rabbit. In contrast, small young rabbits should only be fed twice a week.
Spinach is no doubt a superfood, packed with tens of healthy nutrients and energy. It not only contains a good proportion of macronutrients but also a healthy amount of minerals and vitamins. Let us have a brief look at the nutrient content of spinach in terms of both macro and micronutrients.
Macronutrients In Spinach:
In 100grams of raw fresh spinach, we have:
|Nutrients In 100 grams Of Raw Spinach|
From the above graph, you see that spinach is quite low in sugars. Moreover, the fiber content is quite high as compared to other fruits and vegetables. This makes spinach a great choice for rabbits suffering from obesity or high blood sugars.
Also, if you are including some high sugar foods in the diet, e.g., raspberries, or oranges, etc., you can easily pair them with spinach to balance the effect.
Adequate hydration is another factor essential for rabbit’s health. You need to supply a constant supply of fresh water and also augment it with food. Spinach is 91% water, making it a great source of “Eating Water.”
Vitamins And Minerals:
Spinach has a surplus of essential vitamins and minerals. A few of them are:
- Vitamin A: Spinach has a high amount of carotenoids that can be turned metabolically into Vitamin A.
- Vitamin K1: Spinach has a surplus of Vitamin K involved in blood clotting.
- Vitamin C, E: Vitamin C and Vitamin E are the most potent antioxidants found naturally. Spinach is one of the best reservoirs of these important vitamins. Others can be orange, raspberries, tomatoes, etc.
- Folates: Folates play vital roles in healthy fetal development in breeding rabbits.
- Iron: Spinach is the gold mine of iron. This element is a necessary part of red blood cells. Thus, it plays a role in the overall oxygenation of the body.
- Calcium: Being rich in calcium, spinach plays an essential role in maintaining bone health, the nervous system, muscles, and heart in bunnies.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Both these compounds are surplus in spinach. They have a significant role in maintaining eye health.
- Nitrates: Spinach is rich in nitrates linked to cardiac health.
Spinach also contains notable amounts of Vitamin B6, B9, magnesium, and potassium.
Advantages Of Spinach In Rabbit's Diet
Spinach is often referred to as a superfood because of the high amount of nutrients it contains. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as folic acid, iron, and calcium. Following are health benefits that signify its importance for adding it to the rabbit’s diet:
- It contains high quantities of fiber. Fiber helps to encourage good digestion by adding bulk to your stool as food passes through the intestine towards the bowl. It also helps to keep the digestive tract healthy.
- Spinach also contains a good amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants strengthen the immune system by fighting against a range of infections in the body. It also contains flavonoids that prevent common colds and keep your rabbits healthy.
- Spinach has a role in slowing down aging and thus increasing lifespan. Moreover, it also plays a role in cancer prevention.
- Spinach also contains nitrogen in small quantities, which plays a role in delivering oxygen throughout the body.
- Spinach contains a good dose of antioxidants, protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients keep the heart of your rabbit healthy.
- It also helps to keep the brain and nervous system healthy and improve cognitive function.
- Spinach has a good amount of lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids play an important role in protecting the eyes from sunlight. Moreover, these compounds also have a role in preventing multiple other eye diseases and also strengthening vision in rabbits.
- If your bunny is suffering from any kind of eye problem, the addition of spinach to its diet will be the best strategy to alleviate the problem.
- With the high amount of nitrates, spinach helps to regulate blood pressure and prevent most kinds of heart diseases.
- Spinach is rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A has a pronounced role in maintaining healthy epithelium(skin), muscles, and teeth. It also produces pigments of the retina in the eyes of rabbits ensuring healthy eyes and good vision.
- Vitamin A in spinach is also linked to healthy reproduction, pregnancy, and lactation. So, if you want to breed your rabbit, adding spinach to their diet is a good idea.
- Spinach is great for producing new and healthy red blood cells(the major component of blood). In this way, there will be better tissue oxygenation and food delivery to various parts of the body.
Disadvantages Of Spinach
Although spinach in small quantities is safe for rabbits to eat; yet overdosing can cause some problems.
Oxalates Associated Health Problems
Besides providing roughage and vitamin A, spinach also contains oxalates. Oxalic acid binds nutrients to itself, so your pet digestive system can’t separate and digest them. These oxalates can bind to calcium and form calcium oxalate stones. Calcium is not soluble in this form and renders calcium levels low. To bind calcium to oxalates, excess calcium comes from bones, and they become weak.
Rabbits can also suffer from metabolic bone disorders as a result. The high content of oxalates can also lead to kidney stones.
Never pair two high oxalate foods in a high amount in one day. Here is a graph for your better understanding:
Digestive System Problems
Spinach contains high fiber content, which can be risky in some cases for the rabbit. Too much fiber can disturb your pet’s gastrointestinal system. It can ultimately cause diarrhea and flatulence. To keep the fiber content in the body, feed them spinach in moderate amounts.
Spinach has a high amount of vitamin K. This vitamin in an adequate amount has a great role in blood clotting. However, if you overdo it will cause excessive blood thickening and clotting. This can result in the blackening of blood vessels and clot formation, which can cause tissue/organ death.
How To Feed Spinach To Rabbit Safely
When you start feeding your rabbit new fresh foods, you should do so slowly. In this way, your bunny’s gut bacteria can adapt to the new food. You should feed one food at a time in small portions and see how it turns out. If the stool changes from the regular solid round pellets to soften or even wet stool, you should avoid fresh hay and pellets for some days until stool returns to normal.
Firstly, give your rabbit spinach in small amounts and observe for allergic reaction. In case of no response, you can give them a little more. Always give washed and fresh spinach to your rabbit.
The following recommendations should be followed while giving spinach to rabbits:
- Every day, feed 3-5 different varieties of leafy greens. Don’t keep providing the same green vegetables every week. Mix things up a little. The importance of variety should be analyzed. Their spinach portion pairs well with watercress and rocket.
- One cup of greens for every 2 pounds of rabbit body weight is suitable. This quantity should be fed once a day or divided into many feedings throughout the day.
- If they eat too much one day, don’t feed them again for a while.
- Feeding your rabbit spinach once a week, at most twice a week, is sufficient.
If you wish to prevent oxalates, you should feed spinach in the fall rather than the spring or summer. Winter is not a good time to grow spinach. Aside from the season, the oxalic acid level varies greatly depending on the soil type. In the end, the age of the vegetable appears to be irrelevant.
The Fresher, The Better:
You should always feed your bunny with fresh spinach. Stale leaves contain multiple harmful microbes, and is difficult to digest. Also, stale ones lose their water content.
Also if you are going to store spinach for your bunny, do not store wet leaves piled up. Doing this only facilitates mold growth.
Types Of Spinach To Feed Your Rabbit
Both savoy and leafy vegetables have the same nutritious value. Other varieties of spinach plants, such as water spinach, Malabar spinach, and mustard spinach, are as good as regular spinach.
So, you can feed any of the following recommendations as mentioned above. However, whatever type of spinach you are going to use, make sure to buy organic, crisp, and fresh leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can Rabbits Eat Young/Baby Spinach?
According to studies, baby spinach had the lowest oxalates and the greatest pH. In contrast, older leaves had the highest oxalates and the lowest pH.
Other research, on the other hand, has found the reverse. We can’t be sure how much oxalates are in baby spinach because it depends on a variety of things like season and soil.
- Can Rabbits Eat Frozen Spinach?
We don’t recommend frozen spinach for your rabbit. Frozen spinach is difficult to digest and causes multiple gut problems. So, it is better to serve fresh leaves rather than yellowish or molded. Only for once can you give them frozen spinach if you are unable to get fresh from the market.
- Can Wild Rabbits Eat Spinach?
Yes, wild rabbits can eat spinach but be careful not to overwhelm them with spinach or other veggies too soon. Wild rabbits are not used to nutrient-dense vegetables like these and may develop diarrhea.
- Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Spinach?
No, rabbits should not be given cooked spinach. Cooked spinach causes multiple digestive issues in rabbits. Not only spinach, but you also should not feed any cooked food to your rabbit. Always provide fresh and raw plant-based material to make sure your rabbit gets full bliss from them.
While spinach is loaded with multiple vitamins and nutrients, there are also certain risks associated with overfeeding. The high amount of oxalates and calcium in spinach can cause stone formation, especially in kidneys. Also, it would help if you did not pair spinach with other oxalate-rich items such as celery, tomatoes, etc.
If you stick to the recommendations I provided in this article, adding spinach to the diet of your bunny will be your wisest decision. However, adding any new food component should not compromise or compensate the amount of timothy hay you feed to your bunny.
I hope this article gave answers to all your questions related to feeding spinach to your bunny. In case of any further queries, you may drip down the comment or contact us. We would be happy to help.
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