Using herbs for rabbits is still very new but natural remedies are so helpful.
After having a rabbitry for 17 years you learn a few things. There are several health issues that can come up in rabbits and cause them to go down hard and fast.
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And let’s be realistic unless you want to spend a lot of money taking them to the vet you have to find other options.
I started learning about herbs in early 2010. It never ceases to amazing me the natural medicines most of us have right in our own backyards.
Scroll to the bottom of the post to find out more about each herb mentioned in the post.
Use Herbs For Rabbits As A Preventative
Always be thinking ahead and try to prevent issues rather than having to fix a problem. Giving herbs like lavender and comfrey to rabbits before going to events will help keep them calm and their immune system up. If they are going to be around other rabbits or animals in situations that are going to cause stress. Then Using a preventative is a wise desition.
Herbs for Bloat
Though bloat can be an issue at any age it is most common in young rabbits. Whether they are going to a new home, out for the day at a show, or they were a little stressed by a life change.
My top two herbs for issues like this are rosemary and lavender. They help keep the animal calm as well as aiding in digestion and keeping them moving internally. To read more about those herbs click the links above to read about each one.
If I know that there will be a change for them I start feeding the herbs ahead of time. There is rarely a case of bloat that cannot be helped with these herbs.
Another common cause of bloat is feeding bad hay even if it does not look bad. Read this post to find out why I don’t feed hay to my rabbits.
This is not something that is easy or fun to deal with but an abscess must be lanced. Then apply an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory applied to the affected area.
When removing the infection you will be much better off making the hole larger to get the infection out quicker. Rather than making a small incision and working on the affected area little bits at a time. For rabbits, the puss is the consistency of very thick toothpaste when the cap has been left off for a day. So forcing a large chunk through a small hole will also cause the rabbit more pain then if you just made the incision a little bigger.
The numbing spray below is hands down THE BEST thing to help you numb the area to help you work. If they are not squirming you will be able to work faster and get the infection out. I use it to help anytime I need to work on a sour or to tattoo ID numbers on the animals so they do not feel anything.
Click the image to check it out on Amazon.
This is more for the cases when the rabbit has a weepy eye or moisture has stayed under the dewlap and caused a skin infection. For this, I turn to essential oils. However, you could still make a tea out over almost any herb that has anti-bacterial properties with just as much success.
Don’t forget your bottle of Numbing Spray!
You don’t need to have a ton of herbs on hand for rabbits. These are the top ones I would pick if I had to choose. Click the herb link to read the use of each herb recommended.
- Lavender is my go-to herb.
These are just a few of the issues that we might face while raising rabbits. Do you have an issue you are struggling to find a cure?
Lavender For Rabbits
Lavender is an herb that everyone has at least heard of right! It is the go-to herb for most problems you will have whether it is for humans or animals. This herb is AMAZING in what it can do. I will be just scratching the surface with this post on this awesome herb.
At A Glance
There is not much Lavender won’t do. Lavender is a great disinfectant of wounds, bites, rashes, skin infections, and small cuts. Its anti-inflammatory properties make the injuries less painful.
It is recommended for calming animals that are going through emotional trauma as well as behavioral training that might cause some stress to the animal. In these cases, dried herb fed to the animal on its feed is best. However, if the animal will not eat the dried herb make the Lavender into a tea and add it to their water before trying the Lavender essential oil. In emergencies such as the animal is acting out and could cause harm to itself or others using the essential oil is advised. Rub the oil on your hands and try to rub some on the animal’s nose and cheekbones to help the animal inhale the sent of the oil.
How To Use Lavender
Depending on what you want to do with it depends on the form you should use. For issues like rashes, bug bites, minor injuries, diluted essential oil or salve would work the best. If you want the calming effect taking Lavender as a tea or for herbivores the dried herb is also a great choice.
Risk warnings – Avoid using undiluted oils on animals with kidney problems.
If you want to learn more about lavender and how I use it in the rabbitry read this post.
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Chamomile is a very well known plant that people only think of as calming. It is so much more than that. The herb is definitely a must when it comes to having affordable herbs on hand for the care of your animals.
- Digestive Aid
- Mild Warmer
- Mild Sedative
Common Uses For Chamomile
It is often overlooked as a pain relief agent. Its sedative properties are mild, but this makes it a good choice for long car rides that might cause animals to get restless. As a tea, this herb is good for calming upset stomach and vomiting brought on by nervousness and hyper-excitability.
Chamomile has a very high component of anti-inflammatory which is often overlooked. It would be very beneficial to salves and sprays for calming rashes.
The plant is a very effective digestive aid and is safe for young animals. Though it should be avoided by animals with high allergies to ragweed. Its anti-inflammatory properties are helpful in reducing inflammation caused by fleabites and rashes from contact with substance the animal is allergic to.
Though it is a slow warmer chamomile does work and should not be overlooked. It is safer than the other fast acting wormers and it can help counteract the effects that the parasites have had on the animal.
Chamomile works as an eyewash, make it a little stronger then you want to drink and strain the substance through a coffee filter. Syringe into the eye.
At A Glance
This herb is very easy to grow and will sometimes take over if not controlled. It can grow in great soil or hard clay-filled soil.
Risk warnings – Chamomile is safe but should be limited in pregnant animals because it can cause re-absorption in some animals and inhibit fetus growth.
Comfrey In The Rabbitry
This herb is extremely useful and will help any animal owner out there. Personally, I have had a wonderful experience adding Comfrey with lavender to the feed when going someplace like showing at a fair. It kept my rabbits on their feed and eating normally!
At a Glance
- Heals Wounds
- Lubricates and soothes mucous membranes.
Comfrey – Will help speed healing, aiding in bone formation if made into a poultice. Feed dried or fresh herb to give ill animals a pick-me-up. Works well for stressed and weak rabbits. Try comfrey with rabbits that are off their feed. The herb also has a slight calming effect on rabbits works as a digestive aid and helps with wool block. Comfrey can be applied to bruises and sprained areas as a paste or poultice.
For burns, abrasions, lacerations, flea or other insect bites comfrey should be one of the first herbs to try. Comfrey can be made into a paste or you can use the extract.
If using comfrey on an open wound in an extract or poultice an antibacterial herb should always be combined added. This herb has been known to heal up a wound so quickly that it can close an infection inside the body at the injury site. Adding herbs such as thyme, oregon grape, saint johns wort or lavender is recommended.
Risk warnings: Fresh plant use is not recommended for internal use over a long period (several months). Due to the levels of PAs which is known to cause liver damage if enough is ingested. However, the dried herb has almost no evidence of the toxic PA. In extreme doses, comfrey can cause diarrhea. Hence it is best to feed dried herb to herbivores that are susceptible to runny stool.
Calendula is a wonderful herb, it should be one of the first herbs to go to when you find minor injuries on your animals. The herb is also extremely helpful for humans as well. I used it for my family as well as livestock.
At a glance
- Heals Wounds
- Liver stimulant
Uses – A calendula salve with at least 5% herb content will prove to be helpful to any medicine cabinet. The herb can be used on rashes, insect bites, and abrasions. The salve will also help heal minor injuries and surgical incisions. An external application will drastically help reduce swelling and pain from injury.
A warm water infusion will help soothe skin from many different forms of dermatitis caused by flea bites, eczema, and poison ivy. A cool Calendula would help speed healing and bring relief to burns as well.
Risk Warnings – Calendula is one of the safest herbs to use. However, it has been shown to cause abortion-causing activities in rodents and other small animals. This herb should be avoided during pregnancy for small animals. External use of calendula should be fine on animals larger than 5 pounds. The herb also contains salicylic acid and is potentially toxic to cats.
I will for the most part stick with herb uses for animals but if I find an herb that will be beneficial for humans I will post my findings as well.
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Oregano In Your Rabbitry
Oregano is a great herb for any level of herbalist. It is easy to grow and has strong healing proprieties.
How To Use Oregano With Your Animals
Oregano has high amounts of antibacterial properties which would be extremely helpful in emergencies. The herb can be given internally, dried, or fresh. I like to keep some fresh and dry what is left in the fall to have some through the winter.
It can also be made into a poultice or tea at the first sign of infection which works great if you are trying to heal a wound. But for rabbits you will see the best results and have the easiest time trying to feed it to them fresh.
Oregano has antispasmodic properties that aid in calming animals who have a fear of something such as car rides or other objects. It would also be helpful to calm a coughing spasm. However, I do like lavender for this type of issue instead.
The herb also expels internal parasites and is a natural insect repellent.
You can use the oils but be sure to dilute the oil before using it.
Make sure you don’t put the herb into hot of water or in any other preparation you are making. The extreme heat will take out most of the beneficial properties.
Oregano is a perennial and VERY easy to grow so make sure you want it where to plant it. Even a small sprig of roots will come back into a plant if given the chance. Oregano does well in all light settings and grows like a ground cover. Meaning it will grow up and once it hits 12″ or so it will fall over and start to root itself from that fallen sprout.
Risk Warnings: Should be used with caution in pregnant animals.
Where To Buy Oregano
You can buy the dried herb for a reasonable price on Amazon if you don’t want to grow it yourself. If you keep the herb in an airtight container it will keep for at least a year.
If you want to learn more about this herb read this post about oregano in the rabbitry.
Rosemary is an herb that I highly recommend you have on hand if at all possible. It is not an expensive herb and is massively helpful in emergencies. It is a great help for me to get my rabbits to eat gain if something has caused them to go off feed. Comfrey is just as good for this and I often give a blend of both herbs to jumpstart their appetite.
At A Glance
- Expels intestinal gas
- Promotes menstrual discharge
- Insect Repellent.
I can not say enough in favor of this herb. It is extremely useful in animals that are prone to nervousness, excitability, and irritability. Give rosemary to animals that are recovering from a fearful, traumatic experience or shock. It also does wonders for animals who are prone to bloat. If livestock such as rabbits, goats, and sheep are going to a new home it is defiantly worth feeding rosemary for a few days before the animal goes to its new home.
Give 1/8 Teaspoon of tincture orally for every 20 pounds of the animal’s body weight up to three times daily. Herbivores can be given 1 tablespoon for every 5 pounds of body weight. Or about 5 inches of the fresh plant for every five pounds up to three times per day.
Not recommended for pregnant animals. It could cause a miscarriage.
To learn more about rosemary and how I use it in the rabbitry read this post.
Start Slow With Herbs
Herbs can do great things for your rabbitry. They have gotten my rabbits out of the woods far quicker then I would have been able to take them to a veterinarian. They have also saved me a lot of money in the process.
It might feel overwhelming at first to learn all of these herbs but start with just a few, learn how they work and if you find the need to at more then do so. But you really don’t need to have a ton of herbs. Many of them do the same thing just in different degrees.