Can Rabbits Eat Garlic or Is It Toxic?

Garlic is one of the spices hailed for its many health benefits. Can your rabbits eat it, or is this spice unsafe? Just because a particular spice, herb, vegetable, or fruit is healthy to us doesn’t mean it is to your pets, including your bunnies.

Garlic (Allium sativum), a close relative of onions, Chinese onions, chives, shallots, and leeks, is a perennial flower plant known for seasoning foods worldwide with the history of its use going thousands of years ago. It is native to central Asia and northern parts of Iran, and it is valued for its bulb that has several cloves.

Garlic safety to rabbits
Garlic safety to rabbits

There are two subspecies, A. sativum var. ophioscorodon (hard-necked subspecies that has porcelain, rocambole, purple stripe garlics) and A. sativum var. sativum or soft necked that has artichoke, creole, silverskin garlics.  Besides the subspecies, there are about ten main groups and hundreds of Allium sativum varieties.

Can rabbits eat garlic?

No. Rabbits shouldn’t take it garlic (bulb or greens), including all its subspecies, groups, variety, or even wild garlic. This spice has an immunosuppressive effect and may trigger an anaphylactic reaction (a life-threatening allergic reaction) that can be fatal if ingested in large amounts.

Also, it has disulfides and thiosulphates, which are nothing other than organosulfur compounds, which in high quantities, may cause hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia is characterized by the destruction of red blood cells and the presence of hemoglobin in urine.

Benefits of garlic to rabbits

However, if used therapeutically in small quantities, with the guidance of your vet, it does have several health benefits to rabbits that include the following:

  1. It has vitamins B6 and C, calcium, iron, manganese selenium, phosphorus, and pantothenic acid, among other nutrients.  It also has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties as well as being potent antioxidants
  2. It may have an anti-hyperglycemic (reduce high blood sugar levels) effect. A study on garlic as an alternative medicine to control diabetes mellitus concluded that “it possesses a beneficial anti-hyperglycemic effect in alloxan-induced rabbits.” (1)
  3. A supplementation of “garlic oil at 0.5 g/kg of diet has a positive effect on HDL, immunoglobulin’s G (a type of antibody), antioxidant status and testosterone hormone in addition to its antibacterial effect”, reveals a study on Blood Biochemical and Immunological Responses to Garlic Oil Administration in Growing Rabbits Diet.
  4. Supplementing garlic powder at 0.25% may increase crude protein and crude fiber, something that will make rabbit production more economical. (2)
  5. Also, a study revealed that  adding “dried onion or/and dried garlic had a positive influence on most of the digestibility coefficients and nutritive values of tested diets as well as showed healthy caecum activity of NZ W rabbits.” This conclusion is evidence that it does improve digestion.
  6. It may help deplete cholesterol, as supported by findings of a study which concluded that cholesterol is consumed from experimentally induces atherosclerosis by garlic administration.” (3)
  7. May help improve fertility in bucks at lower doses. However, at high dosages, it will cause problems. (4)
  8. Adding “0.08% methionine more than the optimum requirement or 2 % fresh garlic to growing rabbit diet was a safe and practical method to minimize the lead toxicity in rabbit diet,” concludes a study on Detoxification of Dietary Lead by Methionine and Garlic in Rabbits

There is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other studies show the potential benefits of this spice.

Finally, to humans, it may help fight the common cold, reduce blood pressure, lower risks of heart diseases, increase longevity, detoxify heavy metals, and improve bone health, among other benefits.

Do bunnies like garlic?

No bunnies don’t like garlic odor. It is one of the commonly used ways to repel these animals together with others like deer, mice, and moles. Applying a solution that has this spice is enough to deter damage.

Even while in the wild, these animals don’t eat garlic, onion, leeks, chives, Chinese onion, scallions, or shallots.  Anything in the genus Allium is a deterrent.

Conclusion

Allium sativum has many benefits to rabbits when given minimal amounts. However, in large quantities, it will cause more harm than help. Only use it if your veterinarian allows you to do so and follow the instruction he will give you.

See also

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