One of the quirky things we do around here for our rabbits is give them a bit of Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother) in their water every day.
Early on in raising rabbits we read that this additive is healthy for rabbits and incorporated it into our daily routine but today I decided to research exactly how and why it might be useful to rabbits!
We typically use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother) for our rabbits because A) that’s what’s stocked in our local stores and B) we like that it’s organic. We add about 1 Tablespoon per 1 Gallon of water and give it daily. The Bragg’s website says that research worldwide supports and commends what Hippocrates (the father of medicine) found and treated his patients with in 400 B.C: He discovered that natural, undistilled Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV) is a powerful cleansing and healing elixir, “a naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria” for a healthier life.
The use of ACV has a long history. It has been traced to Egyptian urns as far back as 3000 B.C. The Babylonians used it as a condiment and preservative, while Julius Caesar’s army used ACV tonic to stay healthy and fight off disease. The Greeks and Romans kept vinegar vessels for healing and flavoring. It was used in Biblical times as an antiseptic and a healing agent and is mentioned in the Bible. In Paris during the Middle Ages, it was sold from barrels by street vendors as a body deodorant, healing tonic and a health vinegar drink. Christopher Columbus and his crew on his voyage to discover America in 1492 had their vinegar barrels for prevention of scurvy as did the soldiers in the American Civil War. For centuries in Japan, the feared Samurai warriors drank it for strength and power. ACV has been used for thousands of years not only for health reasons, but also as a cleansing agent to remove bacteria, germs, odors, and even stains and spots.
All of that is lovely to know and might help you out in a game of Jeopardy! someday, but what is Apple Cider Vinegar and who the heck is it’s “Mother”?!
ACV is an undistilled vinegar containing a potent combination of vitamins and minerals- including potassium, copper and iron, as well as magnesium and phosphorous. Potassium is key for growth, building muscles, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity etc. ACV contains natural organic fluorine, silicon, trace minerals and pectin. It is rich in malic acid which gives ACV its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. ACV may help improve bowel irregularity and help to remove toxins from the body at a faster rate. Additionally, a few lab studies have found that ACV may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth (in humans).
Ultimately, there is nothing harmful in ACV so it can not hurt your rabbit – I like to think of it as a daily, natural multi-vitamin for our furry friends!
If you decide to use ACV, take care in your selection. It’s important you don’t simply get plain ‘ol Apple Cider Vinegar. Go for broke and get ACV with The Mother.
No, this isn’t a Jewish-inspired guilt trip. You aren’t paying homage to the one who birthed you with your vinegar purchase.
Apple Cider Vinegar that includes “The Mother” contains raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria that promote healing. Vinegars containing “the Mother” will not be as clean in appearance as other vinegar options, but don’t be scared about this; natural ACV should be rich, brownish color and if held to the light you could see tiny “cobweb-like” substances. That is the “mother.” Usually “mother” will show in the bottom of the ACV bottle the more it ages. Seeing it is a good thing! Another tidbit of note is that ACV never needs refrigeration and should therefore never spoil on you.
Apple cider vinegar has many benefits for the domestic rabbit. Here are a few we’ve observed personally and also read about from other people’s experiences:
- ACV helps reduce the ammonia smell of rabbit urine.
- Prevents urinary tract problems like bladder sludge (from excess calcium), reducing infections because the organisms can not live in acidic urine.
- Keeps the body pH regulated, clearing up any skin infections or weepy eyes.
- Increases the nutrient absorption capabilities of the G.I. tract as well as helping the whole digestive process.
- Boosts fertility rates and may result in more female kits in a litter.
- Makes the does more willing to breed.
- Makes rabbits unattractive to fleas and mites by making the rabbit”smell” off, making it a great repellent.
- Extensive historical use and veterinary studies indicate that apple cider vinegar added to feed or water can cure a mastitis infection and reduce the transmission rates of the bacteria.
- One part vinegar and one part water can be sprayed on [any pet’s] fur and rubbed in generously to the skin. Saturate the entire coat, and continue every day for a few days to a week; any flea infestation will disappear.
- Can be used as a cleaner for cages and crocks as well as keeping the green algae from growing in water bottles in the summer.
- Known for keeping fur softer and shinier.
- If bringing your rabbit to a show or transporting them, ACV water will taste the same as the water from home no matter what tap you use.
- Rabbits like the taste of ACV and drink more water, resulting in better hydrated rabbits.
- It’s safe to give to pregnant does, great for rabbits at any life stage.
- Adding ACV to water changes the pH level of the water, lowering the freezing point of water (a handy benefit when you live in the mountains at 8,000 ft. elevation!).
Are you convinced yet? Give it a try! A tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother) per gallon is a good starting point. Some people use as much as two Tablespoons per gallon over time. At this point we really don’t measure anymore, just splash it into our gallon jugs, add water, and head out to refill crocks! We add it to the water on a daily basis; some people go on a three-month on/three-months off rotation.
Truthfully, apple cider vinegar is one of those things that some people discount and some people swear by. I was not able to locate any scientific studies regarding ACV and rabbits, but there is a lot of testimonial evidence that it has useful health benefits. At the very least, it will not harm a rabbit, which might make it worth the experiment for you.
Are you using ACV with your rabbits? I’d love to hear about your experience!
These were a few websites I found helpful while researching this topic:
Apple Cider Vinegar for Rabbits (Rise and Shine Rabbitry)
Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother)