Owners of small pets generally know that canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix - just pumpkin) is fine to offer bunnies, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and the like, and many of these pets enjoy dried pumpkin treats. Pumpkin is quite nutritious! Pumpkin is full of antioxidants, including the all-important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids which is converted to vitamin A in the body and thereby provides many healthy benefits, including reducing the likelihood of your pet developing cancer. Pumpkin also contains a significant amount of potassium and iron, and the oils in the pumpkins' flesh and seeds provide positive benefits for the urinary system. The seeds are also high in essential fatty acids (good for the skin and fur).
Pumpkin is loaded with dietary fiber, so important for bunnies and other small pets, and will help regulate the digestive system. Pureed pumpkin (not the pie filling!) can be used as a base for mixing in Critical Care for a poorly bunny, and many bunnies find this quite palatable (meaning, no syringe feeding necessary).
Granted, you will be hard pressed to find pumpkins in the groceries at this time of year, but a few farm markets may have a pumpkin or two and - bonus! - people are now getting rid of perfectly good, uncarved pumpkins in order to put up their Christmas and Hanukkah decorations. Set out curbside, these 'road pumpkins' are full of seeds that can be roasted (or dehydrated, which is even easier). Approximately 13 medium pumpkins will fit in the trunk of a 2002 Honda Civic. While waiting to be turned into puree and seed, these pumpkins provide great entertainment and nourishment for the house rabbit (see the slideshow) - all for free!
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