Oats and oatmeal may have long been revered as a wholesome, nutritious breakfast. Recently, the addition of oats has been incorporated into a variety of pet foods as a nutritious whole grain. However, do the benefits of eating oats and oatmeal translate to all our little furry friends? The answer for rabbits is complicated.
When it comes to rabbits, a steaming bowl of oatmeal is better left on your kitchen table than in your bunny’s food dish. Although oats or oatmeal won’t cause your rabbit serious harm, it may take the place of much healthier options.
Read on to learn the shortcomings of oats and oatmeal in your rabbit’s diet. We’ll also cover when oats and oatmeal can benefit your rabbit, as well as better food selections to provide your rabbit at mealtime.
Oats and Oatmeal Have a Good Reputation
If you thought oats and oatmeal might be good to give your rabbit, you’re not entirely wrong. Oats and oatmeal are non-toxic to rabbits. If you’ve been adding a few loose flakes to your rabbit’s food, you don’t have to worry about the long-term implications.
Oats have been touted as heart-healthy with complex carbohydrates, plenty of nutrients, a source of protein, and as having a high fiber content. Unfortunately, all that goodness doesn’t rank it any higher on a rabbit’s list of nutritious foods.
How Oats and Oatmeal Can Help an Underweight, Sickly Rabbit
The same reasons that you shouldn’t feed your healthy rabbit oats and oatmeal are the exact factors that help an underweight rabbit. While your healthy rabbit would only load up on the empty high calories in oats, causing possible obesity, an underweight rabbit needs the complex carbohydrates and fiber for energy, as well as the protein for muscle gain. Oats are easy for a sickly rabbit to digest.
Healthy Rabbits Should Pass on the Oats
Oats are a starchy food with no nutritional value to rabbits. The only impact that the oats will have on your healthy rabbit is unnecessary weight gain and possible stomach upset. You’ll want to prevent your rabbit from becoming obese or overweight because it can lead to heart or lung problems, diabetes, or fatty liver disease. Worse, feeding your rabbit oats takes the place of healthier choices. Your rabbit may miss out on gaining their daily allowance of nutrition, which could lead to deficiencies.
What’s Better Than Oats and Oatmeal for Your Rabbit?
Since oats and oatmeal do nothing to boost your rabbit’s nutritious diet, you’re better off giving your rabbit plenty of Timothy hay, dark leafy greens, and fresh water. Timothy hay is perfect for managing your rabbit’s weight, and it’s easy for your rabbit to digest because it’s high in fiber and low in protein and fat. Plus, unlike oats, timothy hay helps wear down your bunny’s teeth. Dark leafy greens provide essential nutrients and water keeps your rabbit hydrated.
Oats and oatmeal may be a healthy choice for humans, as well as a helpful ingredient in many animal foods, but for rabbits, you’re better off skipping this food. Oats and oatmeal offer no nutritional value to bunnies unless you’re nursing a sickly, underweight rabbit back to health.