Most pet rabbits love a little salad on the side. And that's a good thing: fresh vegetables can form an important part of your rabbit's balanced diet and help it stay hydrated. Sudarshan Deshmukh, Vice-President of the Ontario Rabbit Education Organization, shares her tips on feeding fresh veggies to your pet.
• Introduce new foods gradually and start by offering a small amount. Some rabbits tolerate vegetables well, but, in others, vegetables can produce gas or runny stools (gas may cause a rabbit to shift around excessively, sit hunched up or press its stomach against the ground). You will know within 12 hours if the new vegetable causes any of these problems; if so, cross that one off your rabbit-food list.
• Wash all vegetables thoroughly and make sure all foods are pesticide free — and never give your rabbit spoiled food.
• If your rabbit tolerates vegetables well, offer it at least 3 different types of greens daily (a minimum of 2 cups/500 mL vegetables per 6 lb/2.7 kg of body weight per day).
• Thumper may like one or more of these: Basil, beet greens (tops only), sweet (bell)
peppers, bok choy, cilantro, dandelion greens, dark green/red leaf lettuce, dill, endive, escarole, mint, mustard greens, raddichio, radish tops, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard and watercress.
• You can also try calcium-rich foods such as carrot tops, collard greens, kale, parsley and spinach. Although these contain less digestible calcium per volume than alfalfa hay or alfalfa-based pellets, keep in mind that excess dietary calcium, along with other factors, may cause bladder stones or sludge in some rabbits.
• Avoid broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower which may cause gas.
For more information, visit the Ontario Rabbit Education Organization website, www.ontariorabbits.org.
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