People like to say that everything that tastes good is bad for you, to which I respond…what about cranberries?
These juicy little red jewels are packed full of sweet, fruity flavor, and they’re also practically exploding with nutritious goodies. It’s not just me that thinks so, but my rabbit too!
That’s right, my friends, not many people realize it, but rabbits can eat cranberries.
In captivity, rabbits can get bored very easily, especially if you’re feeding them the same bland greens and grains day in day out. Foraging is in their DNA, and In the wild, they would eat all kinds of things from strawberries to wildflowers…anything the landscape offers up.
So, it’s no surprise that they absolutely love it when we add some color to their dinner, and cranberries are a great way to do so.
How Often Can You Feed Your Rabbit Cranberries?
Despite their amazing nutrition content, cranberries should be kept as more of an every-now-and-again treat than a daily meal. The reason being, they have quite a high sugar content, which is, of course, why they taste so dang good, but it’s also bad for big bunny teeth and can upset their stomach.
Even in the wild, rabbits will offset their berry consumption with lots of savory grass and hay, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. If they gobble a strawberry, they’ll instinctively chew on some grass to even things out.
In captivity, a rabbit isn’t likely to develop the same sort of dietary discernment. If it’s colorful, sweet, and exciting, they’ll eat whatever’s given to them, whenever they’re given it.
If you want to integrate cranberries into your fluffy friend’s diet, I recommend keeping it to once or twice a week, but make sure you leave at least a couple of days between each cranberry serving.
How Many Cranberries Can You Feed Your Rabbit?
In regard to portion size, you can give medium-sized breeds that weigh between 6 and 10lbs one or two tablespoons at a time. Larger breeds that weigh between 9 and 12lbs can have between two and three tablespoons per serving.
However, you should start with much smaller portions than this in order to give their fluffy tums a moment to adjust to the dietary change. Piling heaps of cranberries on their dinner all at once will only cause gastrointestinal distress.
What Are the Health Benefits of Feeding Cranberries to Your Rabbit?
They call cranberries a superfood for nothing, folks! These little red berries contain more antioxidants than any other fruit besides blueberries, which means they help your adorable, fluffy family member stave off illness and live a long, happy life by your side — hurray!
They’re especially good for maintaining heart health, so a spoonful every now and again will keep your bunny’s ticker in tip-top shape.
Cranberries also contain trace amounts of copper that bunnies use to combat microcytic hypochromic anemia, dermatosis, and problems with bone marrow.
Pantothenic acid is another fantastic substance found in cranberries that can help our rabbits live a healthy lifestyle. It’s instrumental in breaking down fats and transferring food into energy, ensuring they can hop, hop, hop all day long.
Then, of course, there’s the potassium content to mention too. Along with sodium, potassium helps to balance and regulate fluids on a cellular level and enables nerve signals to communicate with the body as a whole.
Rabbits, and, well…most living beings utilize amino acids to form proteins, but to do so, they need manganese, yet another substance found in cranberries.
They’re also stuffed full of myricetin and ursolic acid, two substances that are known to have anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.
When Shouldn’t You Feed Your Rabbits Cranberries?
You should never feed any rabbits below the age of 7 months cranberries. Their digestive systems won’t have fully developed, and the sugar content can be damaging to their health.
Rabbits that are already obese will also have to abstain from eating cranberries, as the sugar can exacerbate their weight gain. Once they’re back in shape after a short bunny diet, it’s fine to feed them the usual amount.
One last thing to bear in mind is that as rabbits move into their golden years (around six years old), their dietary requirements change, and cranberries may no longer be a suitable treat. At this juncture, it’s best to consult a vet for professional guidance.
Should You Feed Your Rabbit Fresh or Dry Cranberries?
Rabbits enjoy eating both fresh and dry cranberries, which is great, as unless you’ve got your own little vegetable or fruit growing patch, fresh cranberries can be pretty hard to come across. They’re always either juiced, jellied, or cooked into bread, which is great for us humans, but not so much for rabbits.
So, go ahead and use dry cranberries if that’s all you have access to, but always check the nutritional values on the package. Some brands add tons of extra sugar to their dried cranberries in order to make them super sweet and moreish. Rabbits do have a sweet tooth, but the additional sugar is excessive for such small critters, so it’s best to try and find a pack with cranberries and only cranberries.
It’s also important to remember to give them a good rinse before serving them up to your rabbit friend, or even if you’re snacking on them yourself.
You can also buy cranberry-based snacks such as these Oxbow baked treats that have been mixed with hay to offset the sugar content.
That’s all there is to it, friends. Rabbits can enjoy a healthy smattering of cranberries once or twice a week, as long as the servings are spread out by a couple of days. They help to zhuzh up dinner time and keep it exciting for your bunny.
They have numerous health benefits, but due to the sugar content, they’re more of a treat than an everyday sort of snack, and portion sizes can range from 1-3 tablespoons depending on the breed and size of your rabbit.
The only times you need to completely omit cranberries from your rabbit’s diet is if they’re younger than 7 months old, overweight, or a little long in the tooth. Otherwise, they’re a wonderful treat that will keep your fluffy friend hopping and happy.