Apples are known as powerhouse fruit. It contains lots of minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients beneficial to the body.
Thus, the saying, an apple a day, keeps the doctor away. But can rabbits eat apples? Is an apple a healthy option for your furry friend’s diet? Let us find out!
Rabbit’s Basic Diet
Rabbits are herbivores or plant-eaters. They are also considered grazers that feed on growing grass or herbage. Their daily diet consists of fresh and clean drinking water and plenty of hay or grass. Small amounts of vegetables and pellets are also crucial to their health.
Root vegetables and fruits should be given in small portions as a treat. Rabbits don’t naturally eat these types of food. Introducing new food to rabbits must be done slowly and gradually.
Otherwise, their normal digestive flora or normal bacteria will be disturbed. It may cause the overgrowth of gas and toxin-producing bacteria. Thus, the rabbit may become very sick and possibly die.
Being herbivores, they need to ingest large amounts of fibers. These foods have a crucial role in digesting rabbits’ foods. How so? Fibers regulate the body’s sugar. Also, they help nutrient absorption and promote intestinal health.
Understanding the Importance of Fiber in Rabbit’s Diet
As stated above, fiber is vital to our furry friends as it aids indigestion. It also helps in the absorption of nutrients from the food they take. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water. This type of fiber helps lower glucose levels by slowing down the absorption of food. Thereby, it reduces the risk for diabetes. Plus, it absorbs the cholesterol that their digestive system expels into their gut.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It helps the ingested food move through, attracting water into the stool. The water makes the stool softer and easier to pass with less strain on the bowel.
Thereby, it promotes regularity and helps prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber also supports insulin sensitivity that helps reduce the risk for diabetes.
Rabbits need large amounts of fiber, particularly insoluble fiber. It stimulates proper gastrointestinal tract movement. The gut functions appropriately and provides a healthy environment for the microbiome.
A low fiber diet leads to a higher risk for obesity, resulting in secondary issues.
Grass hay is essential for a rabbit’s daily diet as it is rich in fibers. But guess what? Apples are rich in fibers, too!
So, is apple good for your rabbit? Yes, it is good, but it must be consumed in portions and moderation. Rabbits don’t usually eat root vegetables and fruits. It must be consumed as a treat.
Beneficial contents of apple for rabbit’s health
Apples are rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and dietary fibers. However, caution must be observed when feeding your rabbits with apples. Apples contain the following nutrients which are essential to rabbit’s health:
Dietary fiber ensures that the digestive tract works properly. Since rabbits’ digestion processes low protein and energy, fibers help to prevent overworking. A fiber-rich diet can also fight heart disease.
B-complex vitamins consist of Vitamin B-6, thiamin, and riboflavin. These vitamins improve the nervous system and red blood cell health. Aside from that, it helps rabbits to prevent infections. However, they don’t need these vitamins in high amounts.
Phytonutrients act as antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. They help in repairing the DNA that toxins have damaged. Also, they help in detoxifying carcinogens and change the metabolism of estrogen.
Calcium promotes stronger teeth and bones in rabbits. It is also involved in how muscles contract and in how blood clots. Plus, it makes sure that the balanced electrolytes in the body are proper.
Rabbits need potassium to ensure the right amount of fluids in the bunny’s body. Potassium works together with sodium as electrolytes. It is also required by the proper passing of nerve signals along with the bodies.
Although apples are generally safe to eat, they are not entirely safe for rabbits. Cores, seeds, and stems are dangerous to your bunny when ingested. These parts of the apple contain cyanogenic glycosides. They are highly poisonous to rabbits.
Cyanogenic glycosides are natural plant toxins that are present in plants. This substance is present in an apple’s core, seeds, and stems. It is very harmful when ingested by rabbits. How so?
Cyanogenic glycosides in the core, seeds, and stems go through hydrolysis. Hydrolysis occurs while crushing the edible plant material.
It happens during consumption or food crop processing. Through the process, the cyanogenic glycosides generate hydrocyanic acid. It is also known as prussic acid or cyanide.
The following are the symptoms triggered when a rabbit is poisoned by cyanide:
- Upset stomach
- Reduced heart rate
- Respiratory congestion
Tips for feeding apples to your rabbit
Feeding rabbits with apples must be done occasionally; it’s a “once in a while” treat. You may feed one or two slices of apple per week.
You should remember to remove the apples’ stems, seeds, and core. Slice the apple (with the skin intact) in portions or little cubes so your furry friend can easily munch them.
It is important not to peel the apple as its skin is the most nutritious part that the rabbit could eat. Just wash the apple properly before you slice and feed it to the bunny.
Although apples are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, they are also high in sugar and acid. High sugar intake can cause dental problems and obesity in rabbits.
High acid content may cause damage to the rabbit’s teeth. Rabbits also naturally produce vitamin C in their bodies. Excessive vitamin C in a rabbit’s diet can contribute to kidney damage.
There shouldn’t be too much fruit in a rabbit’s diet as it may cause stomach aches and diarrhea. Therefore, never feed the rabbit the entire apple fruit.
As stated, it is crucial to introduce new foods slowly to the rabbit as their stomachs are delicate. Giving large portions of new food to the rabbit may cause a digestive reaction or allergy. Watch out for these allergic reaction symptoms that your bunny might experience:
- Sneezing (dry sneezing without discharge)
- Red, inflamed, and watery eyes
- Drooling (wet chin)
- Clear discharge from the nose
- Constant rubbing of the face (your rabbit may use its paws or rub its face against the ground)
Just like humans, every rabbit is different. One may tolerate a particular type of food, and the other may not.
It is important to give just a tiny amount of new food and wait for 24 hours. If your rabbit experiences diarrhea, get back to its original diet. Wait for 5 to 7 days before adding any other food.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the other edible parts of an apple tree?
Apple tree’s leaves, twigs, and branches are all safe and edible for the rabbit. These parts of the apple tree are very healthy for the rabbits. Rabbits also enjoy munching these parts of the apple tree.
Can apple juice be a supplemental drink for rabbits?
Water is still the best beverage for rabbits. Although it is okay to mix in a little bit of apple juice, make sure it is counted on the weekly fruit intake of your bunny. Too much fruit juice can cause obesity or teeth damage as it contains high sugar and acid levels.
Should you cook the apple before feeding it to the bunny?
Absolutely, no. Cooking the apples would reduce their fiber content. Also, it will be full of sugar and starch. It can cause diarrhea, stomach ache, and obesity in the long term. The same reason applies to why processed apple juices are not recommended.
Can baby rabbits eat apples?
No. Their digestive tract is not yet fully developed. Only after eight weeks can they gradually start to eat solid or adult foods. Thus, the baby rabbits cannot eat apples.
Aside from apples, what other fruits can I give to my rabbit?
How often should I feed apples to my rabbit?
Typically, fruits like apples are given to rabbits twice or thrice a week. But if you are only providing small portions, you can give apples to your rabbit every other day. It is vital to track how often you provide treats for your rabbit to prevent overfeeding it.
So, can rabbits eat apples? Sure, they can! However, it must be given in small amounts and moderation. Introducing apples to their diet must be gradual.
It is essential to be mindful in feeding them some apples. Stems, cores, and seeds must be removed as these parts contain cyanogenic glycosides.