Pet Consider

Can Rabbits Eat Parsley?

Can Rabbits Have Parsley?

Even among those of us who adore vegetables, different veggies serve different purposes. Many of us will gladly devour chunks of raw carrot or cauliflower by the cupful, but we would not even consider snacking on plain parsley. Vegetable-loving bunny parents, however, have learned that what’s good for us is not necessarily good for our rabbits—and vice versa. Contrary to popular belief, our furry friends cannot thrive on carrot-only diets, and so we are stuck feeding them large amounts of plants that we find far less appealing. The veggies we adore take a backseat to those we consider pretty much inedible. While we get to enjoy all the broccoli we want, our cotton-tailed companions are gorging themselves on timothy hay.

It’s got to be boring. We feel for them. We know that sweet veggies such as carrots and cauliflower are best given to our buns in small quantities, but what about the flavorful herbs and spices we use to make our salads more interesting? Herbs such as parsley are, after all, leafy greens. They seem like they would be a suitable food for creatures who need large amounts of cellulose to stay healthy. But is it a safe food? 
Can you give your rabbit parsley? 

The answer is yes, rabbits can eat parsley in small quantities. Fortunately, this flavorful herb does not contain anything that is known to be poisonous to our pets, so there is no risk of toxicity associated with feeding your rabbit parsley. Even if you give your rabbit one big meal that consists of a little too much parsley, they will probably be okay in the long term. This does not, however, mean that parsley is a suitable staple for rabbits—it isn’t! Feed fresh parsley to your rabbit as part of their daily 1-2 cups of leafy greens. Because parsley is high in calcium, it may be wise to limit it if your bun has urinary problems.

Health Benefits?

ParsleyParsley is one of the most popular herbs among humans, and it is usually well-liked by bunnies, too. This delicious herb is not only flavorful, but nutritious, too. It provides large amounts of Vitamin K and Vitamin C, as well as moderate amounts of Vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, and folate. Like other herbs, parsley is loaded with antioxidants, too.

Parsley contains flavonoids that have been shown to have powerful protective effects in various animal studies. By acting as antioxidants, they protect the body from free radicals, which are dangerous metabolic waste products that carry a high charge which causes them to ‘steal’ electrons from the particles that make up body cells.

Much of the time, free radical damage is harmless, but sometimes, it results in genetic mutations that can lead to disease. A wide range of ailments, all the way from arthritis and dementia to heart disease and cancer, have been attributed to free radical damage. Because free radicals are virtually inescapable (even a perfectly healthy body will produce them!), antioxidants are one of the best ways to protect against their negative effects. Some research suggests that, in addition to providing antioxidants, parsley may actually increase the amount of antioxidants that the blood can hold.

As miraculous as parsley’s flavonoids are, the reality is that most leafy greens offer many of these same health benefits—your bun will get plenty of antioxidants from eating kale, spinach, and other herbs, too. Parsley is not going to prevent or cure any disease, so there is no reason to try to force it into your pet’s diet! If your furry friend does not like parsley or reacts poorly to it, no sweat. If they eat a variety of leafy greens in addition to their daily dose of hay, they will be fine.

Things to Consider

After all, parsley is not without its drawbacks. When rabbits first start to eat parsley, many of them experience temporary digestive upset in the form of slightly more watery bowel movements. If your bun’s feces becomes runny after they begin eating parsley, give them a few days to recover before you try to feed it to them again. If their system does not balance out quickly, skip the parsley altogether—there are plenty of other greens that will give them the same nutrients.

If your rabbit has urinary problems, some sources recommend limiting parsley due to its high calcium content. The research behind this warning is shaky, but it may be wise to consult a veterinarian before introducing this herb into your bun’s diet if they have any diagnosed health problems.

Final Thoughts

Finally, parsley is a healthy herb to give to rabbits in moderation, but it should not make up a large part of your rabbit’s daily caloric intake. Most of the food your furry friend eats should be fresh, high-quality hay; this will meet their nutritional needs and keep their digestion running smoothly. So, feel free to let your bun snack on parsley, but don’t put them on a high-parsley diet.

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