Whilst onions may seem like a natural, healthy choice for your rabbit, unfortunately, rabbits cannot have onions. In fact, Rabbits cannot have any allium veg at all. Allium vegetables are toxic to rabbits.
There are plenty of other vegetables your rabbit can eat, even fruit. But if you plan to introduce onion to your rabbit’s diet, be aware that you will do them serious harm if you give them any onion at all.
The following guide will explain why onions are toxic for rabbits, what you should do if your rabbit accidentally consumes onion, and healthy alternatives that your rabbit can eat.
What is an Allium Vegetable?
Allium is a group of vegetables that are wholly natural and used in everyday cooking. They include onions, garlic, shallots, chives, leeks, and scallions.
Allium vegetables are great for the human diet. They are packed full of goodness and make any dish taste great, that is why they have been a popular ingredient of choice for thousands of years.
Even though onions are a tasty and nutritious treat for us humans, they should be kept well away from your rabbit’s food bowl!
Why Are Onions Toxic For Rabbits?
Onions and other allium vegetables are toxic to rabbits because their systems are not adapted to processing them and onions can cause them to lose red blood cells, clinically known as hemolytic anemia.
However, onions are great for humans. They contain organosulfur compounds that lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Research suggests that they can even safeguard against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
What Happens If My Rabbit Eats Onion?
Rabbits can suffer the blood abnormality known as hemolytic anemia, which results in the loss of red blood cells. Side effects include:
- Yellowish eye and skin pigment
If left untreated for long enough hemolytic anemia can cause death. So if your rabbit has ingested onion and is displaying any of these symptoms, consult with your vet immediately.
Hemolytic anemia is not the only risk that your rabbit faces if it ingests onion.
Onions are also an immunosuppressant that can cause your rabbit’s immune system to weaken.
Some rabbits are very allergic to onions and can go into anaphylactic shock, so make sure to keep onions and other Allium vegetables well out of reach of your furry friend.
What About Red and Green Onions?
Green onions are just immature onions that have not yet fully ripened. Whilst they may be milder than regular onions, they still contain toxins that will be harmful to your rabbit.
Red onions are also the same as regular white onions. They taste slightly different because they contain a different chemical balance than white onions, but their genetic makeup is still the same.
So, red onions are just as dangerous to rabbits and should be avoided at all times.
What Alternatives Are Safe For My Rabbit?
Whilst onions should always remain off the menu for your rabbit, there are safe herbs available that your rabbit can enjoy. Here are a few foods that your rabbit can safely eat:
Rabbits absolutely love basil and it is a healthy treat that you can safely offer to your pawed-pal.
However, like most things in life, too much can be dangerous. Basil is best left as an occasional treat that you give your rabbit only once or twice a week.
Dill plants are very good for your rabbit. They are full of nutrients that compliment your rabbits’ digestive system and are easy for them to eat.
Dill comes in two forms, baby dill, and dill flowers. Dill is actually better for your rabbit than non-leafy greens like carrots and fruits.
Sage is a safe snack for your rabbit, but it isn’t recommended to give sage to your rabbit while it is an infant.
Sage is safe for rabbits weighing over 2lbs and should be part of a balanced diet that contains no more than 6 leafy greens a day.
Watercress is a great healthy treat for your rabbit. It is packed full of vitamin C and K as well as calcium and magnesium.
Watercress is part of the leafy green family and should be the staple of a healthy rabbits diet.
Parsely is a good source of nutrition for your rabbit, but it is strong so only feed your rabbit a little at a time.
You can feed your rabbit a larger portion of parsley, limit it to 2 or 3 servings per week.
Lavender isn’t just great for aromatherapy, it’s great for rabbits too!
Lavender is a very safe and convenient treat for your rabbit as they can eat it fresh or dried.
Rabbits really enjoy the taste and smell of lavender, so hiding some around the garden or house for them to find is a fun way to give your rabbit a tasty treat!