Brussels sprouts are known as a superfood for humans, but what about for rabbits? Can you add these to your bunny’s bowl for snack time?
Fed sparingly, Brussels sprouts are a great food for rabbits. They contain lots of vitamins and minerals, and most rabbits absolutely love them. However, you must not give them to your rabbit too often, or you might cause digestive problems for your pet.
Are Brussels Sprouts Dangerous?
Any food can be problematic if it is fed in high quantities. Rabbits have quite delicate digestive systems, so you need to work hard to keep their diets balanced. Too much of any one thing can cause discomfort or even health problems.
Brussels sprouts are sometimes an issue for rabbits because they belong to the brassica family. Brassicas tend to produce gas when eaten, and this can be pretty uncomfortable for your rabbit.
A rabbit cannot release gas by farting, so air gets trapped in their digestive systems. You might notice that your rabbit seems agitated or miserable if it has eaten too many sprouts.
In extreme cases, overfeeding a rabbit on Brussels sprouts will cause digestive problems, and even something called GI stasis. This occurs when the digestive system stops processing food, and this starts to ferment in the rabbit’s guts.
This is usually accompanied by a loss of appetite and a lack of pooping. It can be fatal, so if you notice these symptoms, talk to a vet immediately.
That might sound quite alarming, but pretty much any vegetable can cause these issues if a rabbit is fed too much of it, so just familiarize yourself with the dangers.
Are Brussels Sprouts Healthy?
Yes, these sprouts are very healthy. They contain antioxidants, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin K. They also have iron in them, which supports growth and nerve function.
Another great aspect of Brussels sprouts is that they are fibrous. Rabbits need fiber in order to digest their food properly and keep their droppings a good consistency. Without fiber, their digestive tracts struggle – which can sometimes lead to GI stasis.
Overall, sprouts are healthy for rabbits, just as they are for people.
How Many Sprouts Can My Rabbit Have?
The answer to this depends a bit on the size of your bunny and the other foods that you give to it. If your rabbit eats a lot of brassica family members (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnip, etc.), it should have fewer sprouts, because all of these foods cause gas.
You should use your rabbit’s size as a guide – all the treats it gets in a day should not have a greater area than the size of the rabbit’s head. Remember, treats count as anything that is not hay or pellets.
For an approximate rule of thumb, your rabbit should get around 85 percent of its food intake from hay. That means it should be eating hay almost all of the time.
About five percent of the diet can be got from pellets, but the remaining ten percent should be got from treats such as greens. Each day, you should prepare a bowl of suitable fruits and vegetables for your rabbits.
Add a couple of chopped Brussels sprouts to this bowl, but only on days that you do not offer any other brassicas. Mix in other treats too so it is only eating one or two sprouts.
You should leave at least a day in between feeding your rabbit any brassicas. If it has cauliflower one day, do not give it sprouts the following day. Having a break between them ensures that the digestive system has time to process these foods properly.
This reduces the risk of a gas buildup and keeps your rabbit’s tummy more comfortable.
Should I Cook Brussels Sprouts?
No, it is best not to cook sprouts or give your rabbit sprouts that you cooked for yourself. It is thought that cooked Brussels sprouts could result in more gas buildup than raw sprouts, so this should be avoided.
Brussels sprouts that have been cooked in salted water are even more firmly on the “no” list. Do not give your rabbit any salted foods; it does not need additional salt in its diet, and this could be dangerous.
Feed your rabbit raw Brussels sprouts instead. Canned, frozen, and cooked are best avoided.
Do I Need To Wash Brussels Sprouts?
Yes, it’s a good idea to wash Brussels sprouts before giving them to your rabbit. If you can, purchase organic Brussels sprouts, as these will be free from pesticides. If not, thoroughly wash them to remove as much chemical residue as possible from the surface of the sprouts.
Once you have done this, make sure the sprouts are clean, and then cut them in half and add them to your rabbit’s bowl.
What If Brussels Sprouts Make My Rabbit Sick?
Some rabbits have more delicate digestive systems than others. If your rabbit seems uncomfortable after eating Brussels sprouts, you should simply stop giving them to it.
It is possible that your rabbit is struggling to digest the sprouts properly, and the easiest solution is to take them out of its diet, along with other brassicas. Rabbits do not have to eat brassicas to be healthy.
If you don’t want to remove them, try feeding them in reduced quantities and less frequently. This should help your bunny’s digestive system to keep up and process the sprouts properly. It will also keep the gas levels in your rabbit’s stomach down, making it more comfortable.
If you think that Brussels sprouts are having a serious impact on your rabbit’s digestion – causing diarrhea or constipation – then make sure you stop offering them.
Brussels sprouts should be added to your rabbit’s diet with caution, and you should always think about brassicas as an overall food group, rather than individual vegetables. Reduce the quantities you feed to your rabbit in accordance with the other treats that you give.
Remember, variety is great. Even healthy food like Brussels sprouts should be limited, and a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is best!