Garlic. Perfect for adding extra flavor to different dishes and hailed for its many health benefits. This subspecies of the bulbous flowering plant in the onion genus Allium has been used worldwide for thousands of years due to its medicinal purposes.
It has been found that garlic contains different antioxidants that are effective at killing bacteria as well as free radicals in the blood. In turn, this can protect and strengthen the immune system.
So, while most humans can easily eat garlic (some are allergic to it), is it safe for rabbits to consume? Just because it is deemed safe for humans to eat, it doesn’t always mean that it is safe for other animals to enjoy, including rabbits.
Many rabbit owners agree that garlic is bad for rabbits. And this is true. If large quantities of garlic are fed to a rabbit, it can become toxic, as most bulbs are. This can lead to illnesses and in severe cases, fatalities. However, experts and veterinarians suggest that small doses of this herb can actually be beneficial to a rabbit’s health.
In today’s article, we are going to find out if rabbits can eat garlic and whether it is safe. We will discuss the effects it can have on your furry, big-eared friends and if there are any actual benefits from feeding a little dose of garlic to them every now and again.
Is it safe for rabbits to eat garlic?
It is generally agreed that you should not feed garlic to any rabbits. Whether they are bulbs or green garlic, subspecies, varieties, groups, or even wild garlic, they should all be avoided. This herb can have an immunosuppressive effect which can trigger anaphylactic reactions. This is a life-threatening reaction that can occur when garlic is taken in large amounts.
Garlic also contains disulfides and thiosulphates. While these are just organosulfur compounds that are safe in small quantities, too much can cause hemolytic anemia. This is characterized by the destruction of the red blood cells and the presence of hemoglobin in a rabbit’s urine.
Feeding garlic to a rabbit can actually be toxic. Any bulbs, tubers, and seeds (these include onions, garlic, lentil, peas, potatoes, etc) are never recommended for a rabbit’s diet. Most experts and vets suggest that all vegetables and food items such as these are either toxic or contain high levels of starch.
Garlic and onions are similar. Garlic (Allium sativum) is a close relative of onions, chives, Chinese onions, shallots, and leeks. It is a perennial flower (lives for several years without needing to be planted annually) and is native to central Asia and northern areas of Iran.
Onions are known to have an immunosuppressive effect on rabbits. Being a close relative of onions, this is a good enough reason not to feed them to rabbits.
Even if you try to feed a bunny garlic, they will usually turn their noses up at it. Of course, all rabbits are different so some may enjoy the distinct spicy flavor they offer. However, unless it is for medical reasons and you have been given the all-clear by your vet, the safest option is to never feed your rabbit garlic.
You should never give your rabbit any garlic tablets either unless your vet has told you otherwise. On some occasions, garlic is given to rabbits who have parasites or atherosclerosis but this is usually in very small doses.
Let’s take a look at some of the medicinal properties of garlic and any potential benefits when giving the herb to a rabbit.
Over thousands of years, garlic has been used by humans to treat internal and external illnesses. This is mainly down to its antibacterial properties. Interestingly, it can have similar effects on rabbits. As well as other medicinal properties, garlic is known to:
- Help skin eliminate harmful toxins
- Lower serum cholesterol levels in rabbits that experience high-fat diets
- Help a rabbit’s respiratory system by removing excess mucus
- Relax a rabbit’s stomach and reduce the amount of gas in its digestive tract
- Be very beneficial due to its antifungal properties
- Combat free radicals in a rabbit’s body
When used therapeutically and in small quantities, garlic can be beneficial, as long as a veterinarian guides you on the correct dosage.
Because garlic has vitamins B6 and C, iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and pantothenic acid, it has great antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
It may also have an anti-hyperglycemic effect in rabbits. This means it can help to reduce high blood sugar levels. One study that looked at garlic as a substitute medicine to control diabetes Mellitus found that it contains a “beneficial anti-hyperglycemic effect in alloxan-induced rabbits.”
Another study found that supplementation of garlic oil at 0.5 g/kg of a diet can have a positive impact on HDL, immunoglobin’s G (an antibody type), testosterone hormones, and the antioxidant status. A supplementation of garlic powder at 0.25% could also increase crude protein as well as crude fiber.
Garlic may also help to improve fertility in bucks when taken in lower doses according to one study. High doses can have the opposite effect.
It has also been found that small amounts of dried onion and/or dried garlic can have a positive influence on a rabbit’s digestion.
A study on Detoxification of Dietary Lead by Methionine and Garlic in Rabbits discovered that, just by adding 0.08% methionine more than 2% of fresh garlic or the optimum requirement to a growing rabbit’s diet has been found to be a safe and practical way of minimizing lead toxicity in a rabbit’s diet.
Garlic, or Allium sativum, has a range of benefits for rabbits. However, this is only in small doses that are in line with a veterinarian’s guidance. Large quantities of garlic will cause more harm than good.
Remember, rabbits do not generally like garlic anyway so, unless a veterinarian suggests it or allows it, you should try to avoid feeding any garlic to them at all times.