Can Rabbits Eat Spinach?
Vet Explains What You Should Know
July 24, 2021
As cute and adorable as pet rabbits are, keeping an eye on their diet is no small feat. Unquestionably, these furry bunnies like to feast upon leafy goodies.
If you want to keep your pet healthy and increase their longevity, you need to be aware that even moderate consumption of certain greens can be harmful to your pet rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Spinach?
Yes, rabbits can eat spinach, but only in strict moderation. Spinach has many health benefits for rabbits, but it is also high in oxalates, iron, and calcium, causing calcium buildup, urinary stones, and bladder sludge. Only feed spinach 1-2 times a week and follow our recommendation on serving size to avoid health issues.
Spinach is not harmful to rabbits, and it can certainly be a part of their diet. But spinach has too many nutrients and vitamins to be fed on a daily basis.
There are many benefits to spinach.
– Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
And, your tiny hairy friend has a delicate appetite, as well as a very weak tummy. Thus, the question isn’t if rabbits can eat spinach. The relevant question would be, how much spinach can you include in your pet rabbit’s diet?
Also, spinach is cruciferous produce. This information is crucial because leafy greens tend to retain more harmful pesticides and fertilizers than other types of vegetables. Thus, it is with great caution that you should feed spinach to your bunny.
Always make it a point to wash your veggies a couple of times before feeding any of your pets. Moreover, it’s just a safer option to go with organically grown fruits and vegetables.
Remember, these precautions aren’t just necessary for your pets. They’ll keep your family safe too. Now, why is it a good idea to take the risk and feed your rabbit spinach at all? Continue reading to find out.
Health Benefits: Is Spinach Good for Rabbits?
Spinach is, without a doubt, a healthy option for you as well as your rabbits. Let’s take a look at some of its finer qualities.
High in Fiber
Spinach is a superfood. Thus, it’s bound to have benefits for your rabbits.
The desired level of fiber required by your fully-grown pet rabbit is about 18%-25% dry matter (DM). Now, the green leaves of spinach have less fiber content than the stalks and stems. So, now you know where you ought to start.
This means that your rabbit is going to have healthy and more regular bowel movements due to the insoluble fiber present in spinach. Furthermore, stalks and stems of spinach have a crispier quality that makes it chewable. And any rabbit owner can vouch that chewing is a favorite pastime of rabbits.
Spinach is 91% water-based. Therefore, feeding your rabbit spinach can only lead to a well-hydrated bunny – and, the high level of fiber and water within spinach helps prevent obesity.
Rich in Vitamin A
Eating the stems and stalks of spinach means better dental health through chewing. But these stems are also a good source of vitamin A which promotes dental health. It prevents the deformation of bones in rabbits and can boost vision as well. Not to mention, it’s great for your pet’s skin too.
Excellent Source of Vitamin B9
Vitamin B9, commonly known as folic acid, is considered quite beneficial for rabbits. Obesity and other sedentary habits noted in domesticated rabbits increase their chances of atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction in bunnies.
Studies have clearly shown that the use of folic acid in rabbits reduced plasma homocysteine levels, improving heart function. So if you want to prevent your bunny from getting a heart attack, give it some spinach stems every once a week.
Healthy Supply of Magnesium
The build-up of fat, cholesterols, and other substances in the walls of arteries is known as atherosclerosis, and it’s not healthy for humans and animals alike. But a bit of magnesium in your food supply will help to clear up your arteries.
It works its wonders on rabbits pretty much the same way. And the best part of it is that it is all nicely placed by mother nature in spinach. So don’t deprive your best pal of this wholesome treat.
There are certain drawbacks of feeding too much of this hearty snack to your pet. Just remember the benefits far outweigh the flaws. The best way to deal with the problem is to practice moderation.
But before we go further, it would be smart to take a brief glimpse at some of the disadvantages of overfeeding your rabbit with spinach.
Health Risks: Is Spinach Bad for Rabbits?
Ever heard of the phrase, ’too much of a good thing can be bad’? Well, this holds true for spinach, especially in relation to feeding your pet bunnies.
Be sure to wash it thoroughly first and ensure you don’t feed it more than once a week or with other high oxalate vegetables.
– Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
Overdose of Oxalates
Spinach, among other nutrients, has high levels of oxalates too. Now, these are naturally occurring food toxins. It can cause detrimental effects in the urinary tract of your pet as well as other skin and oral conditions in rabbits.
Oxalates build up over an extensive period, especially if our house rabbit is fed spinach consistently. Other veggies such as cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, turnips, and carrots contain oxalates too. And the absolute no-no for your dearest hairball is rhubarb. A rhubarb simply contains way too much oxalic acid to be given, even as a snack.
When feeding spinach to your rabbit, make sure you don’t feed many high-oxalate foods at the same time to ensure your pet doesn’t get too much of these acids in its diet.
High Levels of Iron
The combination of iron and oxalates is not a good one. Oxalates not only prevent your itty-bitty bunny’s body from absorbing any iron, but oxalates bind to and remove existing iron from the body as well.
And your rabbit may end up with anemia, where there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells left in the blood. Naturally, rabbits aren’t made for such kind of stress.
Too Much Calcium
Unlike other mammals, rabbits can absorb all the calcium in their bodies. But spinach contains quite a bit of calcium in addition to oxalates.
When oxalates bind to calcium, it causes a calcium build up. And, in rabbits, a calcium build-up can turn nasty. The poor little creatures wind up with kidney stones, bladder stones, colon problems, and the worst of the lot, bladder sludge.
Bladder sludge can result in blood in the urine, sediments in the urine, diarrhea, and straining during urination. It’s just too much pain for a tiny fellow.
Keep an Eye Out for Contamination
Rabbits are tiny creatures, and their constitution is no different. They are quite easily affected by pollutants such as harmful chemicals present in fertilizers or pesticides.
So do make sure that you are extra careful when you are feeding your house bunnies any kinds of veggies or fruits. And also, be careful about the number of vegetables and fruits fed to your pet in a week.
At this point, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea to feed your pet spinach at all. The answer is a resounding yes. All you have to do is to find the right balance in its diet.
You should offer your bunny about one cup of greens per 2 lbs of body weight each day. This amount should consist of 3-5 different types of leafy greens, and only one of them should be high in oxalates like spinach.
Also, mix it up and don’t feed the same greens every time to keep a healthy balance of nutrients.
Take It Slow
It’s important to introduce spinach into your rabbit’s diet gradually. So don’t go trying to give tons in a day. Take the time to see if your pet actually appreciates the taste. Some bunnies love spinach, while others don’t enjoy the flavor.
With new foods, it’s always good to use caution when letting your pet have its first taste. Only offer one or two leaves of spinach and monitor your pet for a few hours. If your bunny seems to enjoy this new food and reacts well to it, you can offer more – but with moderation.
Treat Your Rabbit Once or Twice A Week
Keep in mind the fact that spinach is wholesome food to offer your rabbit but in very small measure. Only give your rabbit spinach once or twice a week. Offering it more frequently may cause health issues and cancel out the benefits.
The ideal part of spinach for your bunny is the stalks and stems of spinach. Full of fiber and with fewer oxalates, the stalks of spinach are a great munchy, crunchy snack. Avoid the roots of spinach as it contains too much sugar.
Keep Alive the Element of Surprise
The best diet for domesticated rabbits is hay and specially formulated pellets, containing the required amount of nutrients and minerals for the healthy growth of your pet.
You can add a mix of veggies and fruits and always make sure never to overdo the treats. Also, keep mixing different kinds of vegetables together, so your bunny relishes its treats.
Related reading: Complete Bunny Food Guide
Let’s recap some of its nutritional value if you’re still unsure about feeding your pet some spinach.
- 91% water content, making it a very healthy snack
- High levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene
- Contains vitamin C, E, and K
- Rich in folic acid
- Loaded with magnesium and calcium
Still unconvinced? Remember, Popeye the Sailorman. Guess what brought about his sudden boost in strength and zeal. You got it right!
Bottom line: Can Rabbits Have Spinach?
Rabbits can eat spinach, and it can be a healthy addition to their diet when fed in moderation. Just a few leaves mixed up with some low-oxalate greens once a week is enough.
Don’t be afraid to feed your pet fruits or vegetables, especially not spinach. Just make it a point to practice caution. Let your bunny enjoy its hearty treats, but avoid the health risks by offering a well-balanced diet.
Read Next: How Long Can Rabbits Go Without Food?
FAQ – Spinach for Rabbits
Can rabbits eat spinach leaves?
Yes, rabbits can eat spinach leaves but only once or twice a week. Spinach leaves are not toxic to rabbits, but they are high in oxalates, which bind to certain nutrients like calcium and iron, preventing their absorption. Feeding too much spinach to your bunny can lead to health issues such as anemia and kidney problems.
There are many benefits to spinach, and it can be fed on a weekly basis to your rabbit. Just be sure to wash it thoroughly first and ensure you don’t feed it more than once a week or with other high oxalate vegetables.
It’s a good idea to give you bunny a variety of different fruits and vegetables when they are young, so they get used to different foods.
The bulk of their diet should be high-quality timothy hay (not alfalfa), as this is crucial for their dental and gastrointestinal health. Pellets aren’t necessary for rabbits that are getting hay and a variety of vegetables and fruits, but a small amount can be given daily if you want to ensure a balanced diet.
– Dr. Leonie McKinlay, DVM
NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.