Pet Consider

Can Rabbits Eat Cilantro?

Can Rabbits Have Cilantro?

When most Americans describe what was served at their dinner party last week, the term ‘rabbit food’ is generally not a compliment. When we think of rabbit food, we think of something that is bland, leafy, dry, and bound to get stuck in your teeth. For those of us who raise bunnies as companions, the term ‘rabbit food’ shifts from something funny to something tragic—how are our poor pets supposed to enjoy their lives if they are stuck eating the same old hay day-in and day-out? What can we possibly do to make their diets more interesting without endangering their health?

Naturally, we look to more flavorful vegetables, and one of our favorites is cilantro. Many of us enjoy cilantro in a wide variety of foods, so it seems like the perfect way to spice up your rabbits’ diets. Is it safe, though?
 
Can you give your rabbit cilantro?

The answer is yes, rabbits can eat cilantro in moderation. Though some of our favorite flavorful veggies are poisonous to rabbits, and others have to be fed in very limited quantities, cilantro appears to be a safe option to feed to your bun fairly regularly. While it should not make up the majority of their diet, rabbits can enjoy cilantro as a safe, relatively harmless side dish.

Health Benefits of Feeding Your Rabbit Cilantro

cilantroEven better: cilantro can be healthy for your rabbit, too! This flavorful herb is not just a safe treat, but a powerful dietary supplement. Most herbs are chock full of antioxidants. Many different substances act as antioxidants, but they all serve to help the body in the same basic way: they fight against nature’s supervillains, free radicals.

So long as the heart is beating, there is no escaping free radicals—they come from environmental toxins, unhealthy foods, exercise, and even normal functions like digestion and breathing. So, what’s the big deal with free radicals? Many of them are highly charged particles, which means that they will react with many of the other particles they come into contact with; this includes the particles that make up your bun’s body cells. Free radicals cause damage to cells and DNA, which results in genetic mutations that can lead to disease over time.

Free radicals are thought by many to be one of the primary causes of the physical and psychological decline associated with aging. There is no way to completely eliminate free radical damage, but consuming foods containing antioxidants can help minimize it. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body. So, the more antioxidants you and your bun consume, the fewer free radicals will damage your body cells.

Important: it appears that the natural antioxidants found in whole plant foods are beneficial to the body, whereas synthetic ones are ineffective or even detrimental. Do not give your rabbit pills containing synthetic antioxidants! Adding healthful foods like cilantro into their diet is enough.

Cilantro has a couple other tricks up its sleeve, too. This high fiber, low calorie food fits perfectly into the rabbit diet—the fiber content will help keep food flowing properly through the cecum and intestines, and the low caloric content will help prevent weight gain, which can lead to obesity. This herb has also been used to help treat gas and bloating, which may be helpful to bunnies who are prone to excess gas after eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage.

Cilantro even seems to have some antimicrobial benefits, which can reduce your rabbit’s risk of infection. Some research even suggests that this food can fight against Salmonella—but, if you suspect that your rabbit has salmonellosis, take them to the vet! Cilantro is a helpful preventative measure, but it cannot treat foodborne illnesses.

Things to Consider

When feeding cilantro, make sure that the leaves are fresh and thoroughly washed (this herb goes rancid quickly once the leaves have been removed). Also remember that this food, like most leafy greens, should be given to rabbits in moderation. Even though cilantro has many health benefits for bunnies, most of their diets should consist of hay and grasses. It is also important to vary the greens you give your bunny every day—variety will keep them healthy and happy and minimize their risk of developing digestive problems or nutritional imbalances. If your rabbit consistently leaves cilantro sitting in their dish until it wilts, it’s probably time to try a new herb.

Final Thoughts

Overall, cilantro is an excellent addition to almost any rabbit’s diet. It is low in calories and high in fiber, which will keep your rabbit fit, trim, and regular. It is also loaded with antioxidants that can help prevent against many common diseases, including arthritis and heart disease. In moderation, antioxidant-rich foods like cilantro may even help to slow the physical decline associated with aging, prolonging your rabbit’s life (and quality of life!). Just remember that hay is the most important food for rabbits; giving them nothing but cilantro will result in digestive and nutritional problems.

 

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