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Can rabbits eat spinach? Good or Harmful

Can rabbits eat spinach? Good or Harmful

When feeding your rabbit fresh food, you need to be careful about the amount of sugar and starch. Rabbits can eat spinach, but only in small quantities, due to their high oxalic acid content.

The answer is ‘yes‘, however, there are a few things to keep in mind: Rabbits can eat spinach but in small quantities. For what reason? This vegetable contains many vitamins and nutrients, but it also contains a lot of oxalic acid; for this reason, it should be administered “in small doses”.

Before giving the vegetables to your rabbit, remember to rinse them to remove any dirt and chemicals. It is preferable, if possible, to buy organic vegetables: the digestive system of our pets is sensitive to pesticides.

Here’s the problem with spinach: oxalic acid will bind calcium, magnesium, and other minerals making them insoluble and preventing them from penetrating the bone structure. Calcium may also build up in the bladder, causing stones.

The stems contain more fiber than the leaves, making them healthier for rabbits. The roots contain a lot of sugar, so it’s best to avoid them.

Why is oxalate harmful?

Spinach is a source of beta-carotene (provitamin A), an important resource for body development. They also contain large quantities of different vitamins (C, E, K, etc) and minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, folic acid, potassium etc) , which are important for the rabbit’s health.

Despite all these beneficial substances, spinach also contains oxalate which, consumed in excessive quantities, is unhealthy for our bunnies.

Oxalate is not as toxic as pesticides or other vegetables and plants (eggplant, potato, tomato plants). These are foodborne toxins that can obstruct the rabbit’s urinary tract and create itchy skin or mouth discomfort when taken in large quantities.

This does not mean that spinach should never be given to your rabbit: it still contains many beneficial substances.

When eaten regularly, these vegetables can become toxic. There are other foods that contain oxalate, so be careful not to feed your rabbit these foods on the same days. Here is a list of green leafy vegetables that contain oxalate :

  • Parsley
  • Green mustard
  • Radish tops
  • Beetroot leaves
  • Swiss chard
  • Sprouts

Oxalate is also found in asparagus, broccoli, celery, savoy cabbage, cabbage, turnips, berries, and carrots, but in small quantities.

The only food we recommend totally abolishing is rhubarb: it contains too much oxalic acid for rabbits.

Tips for consumption:

  1. Feed the rabbit 3-5 types of green leafy vegetables per day (only one of the above). Don’t give the rabbit the same vegetables every day, vary. The watercress and the rocket, for example, can be given together with the spinach.
  2. As an indication, it is good to give your rabbit a bowl of vegetables for every pound of body weight daily, also dividing them into different meals.
  3. If you overdo the doses one day, avoid vegetables for a few days.
  4. Spinach can be given to your rabbit once or twice a week.

It is preferable to give the rabbit spinach in autumn rather than in spring or summer; winter is also not the season for this vegetable. The quantities of oxalate can vary significantly according to the type of soil, while the age of the plant seems to be irrelevant.

Can rabbits eat kale and spinach? 

The debate on the level of oxalates present in cabbage is still open: although it is often considered rich in oxalates, there are also those who argue that it contains in low quantities.

According to several veterinarians, 100 grams of kale contains only 20 milligrams, while 100 grams of spinach contains about 970 milligrams.

What about baby spinach?

Some studies have shown that:

  • Baby spinach contains less oxalate and a higher pH
  • Less fresh leaves have more oxalate and a lower pH

Other research, however, has presented different results. We cannot establish the number of oxalates present in this type of vegetable, since the level also changes according to the season and the land in which it grows.

Can rabbits eat cooked or canned spinach?

Rabbits cannot digest cooked foods. It may be that the cooking process lowers the level of oxalic acids, however, cooked spinach and cooked foods, in general, should never be added to our rabbit’s diet.

Canned spinach is also cooked, plus it contains salt. It is much better to give them raw spinach, and they will certainly be more welcome.

What about frozen spinach?

With the exception of cabbage, frozen vegetables are not recommended, as they change texture and lose some of the fiber. You might consider planting seedlings in your garden (basil, coriander, parsley, rosemary, etc).

If, on the other hand, you do not have the possibility to go shopping, for once you can give them some cabbage if you have it in the freezer, or you can avoid vegetables for a few days and feed them hay, water, and some high-fiber pellets.

The fresher the vegetables, the better!

The rabbit will appreciate a serving of fresh spinach more. Spinach stored in close contact risks rotting, becoming potentially harmful to the rabbit’s stomach: it is, therefore, good to store vegetables properly. 

Can bunnies eat spinach?

Baby rabbits can start eating some fresh vegetables after two months of life. Before introducing any fresh food into their diet, it is important to feed them only quality hay for a few weeks.

Final Thoughts

so can rabbits eat spinach?

The answer is yes. However, it is important to introduce vegetables gradually into their diet. Wild rabbits are not used to these foods and, if they consume them in excessive quantities, they risk ailments such as diarrhea.

The other types of spinach plants (water spinach, Malabar spinach, etc.) do not particularly differ from the traditional ones. However, when it comes to plants whose properties, place of cultivation, and effects on our rabbits are unknown, it is always best to avoid them.

This article is purely informative, at Shelterapet we do not have the right to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We encourage you to take your pet to the vet in case It has any kind of discomfort.

Written by Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, canine behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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