Safe and Healthy Treats for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and Small Pets
Rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and other small animals can’t live by hay alone (although it should be 85%+ of their diet!) – that’s why, if you see them in the wild, they’ll be foraging for tasty herbs and flowers to complete their dietary needs. Like humans, rabbits love treats – they would gladly eat them all day instead of their hay! For this reason, it’s important that pet owners ensure their pets are getting a balanced diet to keep them happy and healthy.
When we think of treats, we might think of sweets, chocolate etc... Supermarkets and pet shops might sell ‘rabbit chocolate drops’ and similar treats – this is purely intended to appeal to humans and their wallets! These “treats” are bad for your pets and are full of sugar. Instead, we should be treating our pets with safe, natural treats such as herbs and flowers.
Herbs are a healthy way to bring variety and balance into your rabbit, guinea pig or other small animal’s diet. Simply eating pellets from a bowl is neither natural or enriching. Herbs give your pet a variety of flavours to try every day, acting as a great enrichment tool while enhancing their health through natural nutrients and medicinal properties.
Flowers and roots provide additional vitamins and minerals that rabbit pellets do not contain. They also do not need to be rationed the way sugary treats do (such as carrots or bananas) so you don’t have to worry about upsetting your pets digestion. In fact, there are many herbs that can help your rabbit, guinea pig or small pet have better digestive health.
GI Stasis (or gastrointestinal stasis) is a common health issue among rabbits affecting their digestive system. Causes can include dehydration, lack of activity, stress and an inappropriate diet  (Remember: your rabbits diet should consist of 85-90% hay). This condition can often be prevented with an appropriate diet, the right environment, and enough exercise. Flower petals and leaves are great for maintaining a healthy digestive tract and the ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties.
Disclaimer: While herbs have mild medicinal properties, should your pet become ill you should never try to treat the illness using only herbs. Please consult with a veterinarian as soon as your pet shows any symptoms of an illness.
Giving your pets different options is also great for their emotional wellbeing. The aroma alone will naturally get your pet excited for their food! They even tend to root through piles of grass or hay to find specific pieces that they prefer.
Humans forage for food by visiting the supermarket and picking their favourite food and treats. Rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals don’t have the same opportunity. Adding a handful of herbs to their hay and even giving them a chance to search for it themselves is a great way to mimic foraging in your home and prevent boredom or frustration!
5 Edible Herbs
1. Chamomile Flowers
Chamomile is a common flower herb known for many different medicinal properties. It supports healthy gut function, maintains good levels of gut mobility and is a natural anti-inflammatory. Rabbits and guinea pigs tend to love the taste and texture of small morsels of chamomile flowers making them even more appealing. Chamomile also has renowned calming properties, which will help your furry friend if they’re stressed or anxious.
Cornflowers act as a whole body tonic with a gentle, cleansing effect on the digestive system. They also maintain the health of your little one’s circulatory system, liver and gall bladder.
3. Pot Marigold Flowers
Not only is it tasty, but it provides a triple action boost for their stomachs – its high in fibre, it’s a digestive calmer, and it helps to stimulate their appetite. Mairgold’s natural properties support your little one’s general health and endocrine system, keeping them happy and healthy.
4. Rose Petals
Rose petals are incredibly fragrant making them very appealing to rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals. They are delicious and appetising for your pet but very low in calories so they make a great, healthy treat you can sprinkle liberally around their cage. They’re also the perfect vitamin and health booster to compliment their diet. They contain Vitamin C, high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin K, and are high in polyphenols and antioxidants.
5. Whole Hibiscus Flowers
Hibiscus flowers are very high in antioxidants which supports their immune system, and they support optimal liver function. They’re also great for supporting metabolic health (which is especially useful if your furry friend is on the chubby side!) and promote a serene feeling of general well-being. Hibiscus contains anti-inflammatory, astringent, and anti-bacterial properties. Its low in calories but delicious for small pets and have a satisfying, pleasant crunch for your pet to enjoy.
Nibble & Gnaw Herbs & Treats
When in the wild, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and other small animals would forage for a variety of different foods to benefit from a good nutritional mix. Keep things interesting for your furry friend by mixing and matching natural herbs as a safe and healthy treat. At Nibble & Gnaw, we’re delighted to launch our collection of Herbs and Treats including five brand new products. Simply add a handful of each to their feed as a foraging treat and rotate with the other herbs in our range to meet all their dietary needs!