Vegetables should be introduced one at a time if your rabbit is young. Monitor their droppings to make sure that they can tolerate what they are eating. If you notice any changes, discontinue feeding that vegetable. Make sure bunny’s vegetables are always fresh. If it smells “off” or if you wouldn’t’t eat it yourself, throw it out. Organic vegetables are ideal for rabbits since they are so sensitive to pesticides and chemicals used on commercial produce. Whatever you choose, be sure to wash it thoroughly and pick it over for bugs. A great variety of vegetables exists and most can be found in your local grocery store. Dark, leafy greens should be fed at least once a day. Carrot tops, watercress, radish leaves, collard greens, beet and turnip tops, romaine lettuce, red and green leaf lettuce, endive, chard, and dandelions are some of the most popular (avoid dandelions picked from roadsides or unfamiliar yards). Other veggies such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes (without stems), sugar peas and fennel will be welcomed by your pet. Rabbits especially like fragrant and tasty herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, arugula and mint. Kale, spinach and mustard greens contain oxalates that can be toxic over time. These vegetables should be fed only occasionally. Finally, carrots are a nice, occasional treat for your rabbit. Although considered health food to humans, carrots have high sugar content and are like candy for rabbits. Despite the popular myth, carrots are not appropriate to feed every day.
Never feed rabbits iceberg lettuce, rhubarb, raw beans, cauliflower, apple seeds, peach pits, cabbage, potatoes or corn. These items can cause illness and even death. Likewise, never feed anything that you are uncertain about. Most rabbits love fruit, but it must be offered in small amounts due to the high sugar content. Peaches, nectarines, papaya, pineapple, apple, grapes (and raisins), pear, banana, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots and strawberries are some of the most popular fruits. A one-inch slice of banana, or two blackberries, is plenty (although the rabbit will try to convince you otherwise). Be sure to remove any pits or seeds as they may be poisonous. Supplements Supplements, such as papaya tablets containing bromelain and papain enzymes, are an optional item.
Many rabbits enjoy the taste and consider them treats. The jury is out on whether papaya tablets are truly beneficial. Some people believe the enzymes help to break down mucous that binds ingested hair together. Others think papaya tablets are nothing but a sugary treat. Dosages will vary greatly. A dwarf rabbit that is not shedding might get 1-2 tablets daily; a large rabbit in full molt could have six or more tablets. Prozyme is a powdered, pineapple flavored enzyme product. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon on the rabbit’s pellets or veggies. It is activated by moisture and has the same effect as papaya tablets. Petroleum-based products such as Laxatone or Petromalt can be helpful in preventing or treating hairballs.
Feed your rabbit a one-inch ribbon once or twice per week between meals during heavy shedding. Don’t mix these products with Prozyme or food as they inhibit the absorption of nutrients. Treats Rabbits adore treats and they are fun to hand out, but be very conservative in what and how much you feed. Rabbits can and do “pig out”, so it is up to you as their caregiver to limit their intake of treats. An overload of starch or sugar can be very harmful for rabbits. Oats are a popular treat.
Choose rolled oats, not instant, and give only ½ teaspoon per pound of body weight. Cheerios, crackers and shredded wheat are other starchy favorites. Raisins, or a small amount of any fruit, is also considered a treat. Avoid the packaged “honey sticks” and other treats that contain dried fruits, seeds or nuts. These are void of nutrition and extremely fattening. Feed your rabbit a wide variety of healthy vegetables for longevity and happiness. Choose only the freshest, highest quality pellets and hay. Make sure they have access to clean water at all times. And provide an occasional treat with extra petting. A well-rounded, nutritious and high-fiber diet will ensure your rabbit’s health and happiness.