Safe Herbs for Rabbits and Their Medicinal Properties

Have you ever wondered if certain herbs can benefit your rabbit’s health? Many common herbs actually have medicinal properties that can help treat and prevent illness in rabbits. Herbs like parsley, mint, basil and dandelion are not only safe for bunnies, but offer a variety of wellness advantages. Certain herbs act as natural anti-inflammatories while others have antimicrobial effects to fight infection. Specific herbs can even ease digestive upset, arthritis pain, anxiety and respiratory issues in rabbits. In this article, you’ll discover 20 amazing herbs that can support your rabbit’s health in incredible ways. We’ll explore the key medicinal uses of each herb, proper dosing, and where to find high-quality herbs for your bunny. Get ready to unlock the healing potential of herbs for your precious rabbit!

Medical disclaimer

Before giving any herbs or natural remedies to your rabbit, it's important to consult with an experienced rabbit veterinarian. Every rabbit is different and may react differently to various herbs and natural remedies. Some herbs that are safe for humans can be toxic to rabbits. Only give your rabbit herbs that are known to be safe for rabbits, and always start with very small amounts to monitor your rabbit's reaction. The information in this article is for general education only and not intended as medical advice. Please consult with your vet before using any of the herbs discussed here.

1. Basil

Basil is an aromatic herb in the mint family that is popular for its use in cooking. Both the leaves and essential oil of basil have been studied for their medicinal benefits. Some key uses of basil for rabbits include:

  • Digestive aid – Basil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the stomach and improve digestion. The essential oil of basil may help with gut motility issues in rabbits suffering from GI stasis. Give a small sprig or two of fresh basil leaves or add a drop of diluted basil essential oil to your rabbit's water.

  • Antibacterial – Research shows the essential oil of basil has antibacterial properties and may help fight certain bacteria strains. Can be used topically for minor wounds when diluted properly.

  • Mosquito repellant – The smell of basil can help deter mosquitos and insects. Rub a bit of crushed basil leaf on your rabbit’s coat or grow basil plants around your rabbit’s housing.

  • Reduce anxiety – Basil has a calming scent that may help reduce anxiety in some rabbits. Place a fresh sprig of basil in your rabbit’s environment.

Always monitor your rabbit closely when introducing new herbs. Start with a small amount of basil and watch for any adverse reactions. Consult your vet for proper dosing based on your rabbit's size and needs.

2. Cilantro

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an herb commonly used in cooking and also has some medicinal properties that can benefit rabbits. Some potential uses include:

  • Improves digestion – Cilantro has been shown to help stimulate digestive juices and improve gut health and motility. The aroma itself can trigger the digestive system. Give your rabbit a few sprigs of cilantro to munch on to aid digestion.

  • Detoxification – Some research indicates cilantro may have a mild diuretic effect and help the body detoxify and flush out toxins. The greens are high in vitamins and minerals that support liver health as well.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Compounds in cilantro leaves and seeds have anti-inflammatory effects that may aid inflammatory conditions. Can be used both internally and topically.

  • Mosquito repellant – The strong scent of cilantro can help deter mosquitos and insects. Rub crushed cilantro leaves on your rabbit's coat or grow cilantro plants around your rabbit's housing area. Monitor closely for any adverse reactions.

Cilantro is considered safe for rabbits in moderation. Introduce slowly and watch for diarrhea or upset stomach as cilantro can cause gas in some sensitive rabbits. Consult your vet on proper dosing and benefits.

3. Chamomile

Chamomile is a flowering herb commonly made into a soothing tea for humans. The dried flowers and essential oil have medicinal properties that can also benefit rabbits. Some key uses include:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety – Chamomile has natural sedative properties that can help calm and relax anxious or stressed rabbits. Give your rabbit a few sprigs of fresh chamomile flowers or add a drop of diluted chamomile essential oil to their environment.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Both German chamomile and Roman chamomile have natural compounds that reduce inflammation. Can be used for gastrointestinal inflammation or skin irritation when diluted properly in a carrier oil.

  • Treats conjunctivitis – The anti-inflammatory compounds in chamomile can help soothe irritated, infected eyes. Use a diluted chamomile eyewash to treat minor conjunctivitis.

  • Heals skin conditions – Topical chamomile preparations can help heal minor wounds, hot spots, irritations, or infections on the skin. Apply diluted essential oil or cooled chamomile tea compresses.

Chamomile is generally safe for rabbits if given in moderation. Introduce new herbs slowly and monitor your rabbit for any negative reaction. Consult your exotic vet on proper dosage and administration.

4. Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are the long, leafy parts of the dandelion plant that are packed full of nutrients. Dandelion greens are considered safe for rabbits and offer benefits like:

  • Source of fiber – The greens provide a healthy dose of fiber to promote good digestion and bowel movements. The fiber also helps move hair through the digestive tract to prevent blockages. Introduce gradually and feed 1-2 leaves daily.

  • Rich in Vitamin A – Dandelion greens have high levels of beta-carotene which gets converted to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for eye health, skin health, and supporting the immune system in rabbits.

  • Diuretic effect – Dandelion greens have a very mild diuretic effect to help flush out excess water and toxins from the body. This helps reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Some research shows dandelion greens may help reduce inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis or gastrointestinal issues. More research is still needed.

Dandelion greens are best harvested young when the leaves are still small and tender. Introduce them slowly to monitor for soft stools or diarrhea. Avoid picking greens sprayed with chemicals or near roadsides.

5. Echinacea

Echinacea is a flowering herb that is well-known for its ability to support immune health. For rabbits, potential benefits include:

  • Immune booster – Compounds in Echinacea, including polysaccharides, have immunomodulating effects to strengthen the immune response against viruses and infections. May help prevent common illnesses in rabbits.

  • Wound healing – Applied topically, Echinacea extracts can help speed up healing and reduce risk of infection in minor scrapes, wounds or abscesses. Contains antibacterial compounds.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Echinacea has natural anti-inflammatory properties to help with conditions like respiratory infections or arthritis. Can reduce inflammation in the GI tract to aid digestion issues.

  • Respiratory infections – Some rabbits may experience mild relief from upper respiratory symptoms when given Echinacea. More research is still needed.

Due to its effect on the immune system, Echinacea should only be given short term in 10-14 day intervals. Look for alcohol-free extracts designed for pets and administer according to your vet’s directions.

6. Fennel

Fennel is a licorice-flavored herb that can provide digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits for rabbits when given in moderation. Potential uses include:

  • Relieves gas – The compounds in fennel seed have carminative effects to help break up gas bubbles and relieve bloating, flatulence, and abdominal pain related to gas. Useful for mild gastrointestinal upset.

  • Boosts appetite – The aroma and taste of fennel act as a digestive stimulant, encouraging eating. Try giving a small amount of fennel after surgery or an illness when appetite is reduced.

  • Reduces inflammation – Fennel has anti-inflammatory properties, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. Can provide relief for sore guts caused by inflammation.

  • Increases milk production – For mother rabbits, fennel may help boost milk production for nursing baby bunnies. Try adding it to the dam’s diet.

Use fennel carefully as the oils can be potent. Give 1-2 strands of the plant or bulb at a time and watch closely for any adverse reactions. Consult your exotic vet for proper use.

7. Mint

Mint makes a refreshing and beneficial herb for rabbits for uses such as:

  • Settles digestive upset – Mint can ease stomach aches, gas pains, cramping, and diarrhea when given in small amounts. The oils have a soothing effect on the gut. Give a sprig or two at a time.

  • Encourages eating – The strong scent and flavor of mint will coax reluctant rabbits into eating. Rub a bit of mint on your rabbit's nose or give them a mint leaf.

  • Clears nasal passages – Menthol in mint clears nasal congestion associated with respiratory infections. Place a small amount in your rabbit's environment.

  • Repels insects – The powerful aroma of mint helps repel mosquitoes, flies and other pests. Grow mint or rub crushed mint leaves into your rabbit's fur.

  • Soothes skin irritation – Cooling mint can provide relief from itchy or irritated skin. Make a diluted mint water spritz to spray on affected areas. Keep mint away from eyes and nose.

Mint is safe for rabbits in small quantities but can cause upset stomach in excess. Observe your rabbit closely when first introducing mint. Use sparingly.

8. Goldenseal

Goldenseal is an herbal remedy often used for its antimicrobial benefits. It may help rabbits by:

  • Treating respiratory and eye infections – Goldenseal contains berberine which fights bacterial and viral eye infections like conjunctivitis. It also reduces congestion and aids upper respiratory infections. Consult your vet on proper dosage.

  • Boosting immunity – Compounds in goldenseal called alkaloids are thought to increase immune activity to better fight illness. Short term use may enhance disease resistance.

  • Aiding digestion – Goldenseal increases bile production and digestive enzymes to relieve indigestion, gas, and inflammation of the stomach lining. May also combat diarrhea.

  • Healing wounds – The berberine in goldenseal keeps wounds clean to prevent infection and encourage faster healing when applied topically in a diluted form.

Do not give goldenseal long term or in high doses, as it can cause adverse effects. Look for alcohol-free pet goldenseal extracts and administer only as directed by your veterinarian.

9. Kava

Kava root contains compounds called kavalactones which provide medicinal effects. Potential uses for rabbits include:

  • Reduces anxiety – Kava has a calming effect on the nervous system and can help relieve anxiety or fearfulness in rabbits, especially during stressful events. Give about 30 minutes before a car ride.

  • Analgesic – Kava has mild pain-relieving properties and may provide discomfort relief from conditions like arthritis or dental disease. Consult your vet on proper dosing.

  • Anticonvulsant – Some research shows kava may help reduce the frequency of seizures in epileptic rabbits, but more studies are needed.

  • Muscle relaxant – The kavalactones induce muscle relaxation without sedation. May help relieve muscle spasms or tension.

Kava should not be given long-term. Look for pet-safe kava supplements and follow your vet’s dosage instructions to avoid potential liver toxicity. Introduce slowly and monitor your rabbit for any adverse reaction.

10. Oregano

Oregano is an herb commonly used for its antimicrobial effects. Some potential benefits for rabbits include:

  • Treats respiratory infections – Oregano is effective against bacteria that cause upper respiratory infections in rabbits. The carvacrol can help relieve congestion and sinus issues.

  • Fights dental disease – Oregano has strong antibacterial properties that combat oral bacteria and tooth root infections. Use topically or add dried herb to diet.

  • Stops diarrhea – Diarrhea caused by bacteria like E. coli or Clostridia can be treated by giving oregano for its antibiotic effects. Consult your vet for proper dosage.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Oregano contains thymol and rosmarinic acid that have anti-inflammatory actions, especially in the intestinal tract. May help colitis.

  • Mosquito repellant – The strong scent helps repel mosquitos and insects. Place dried oregano in your rabbit's housing or rub a bit of oil topically as repellant.

Oregano essential oil is very concentrated and can be toxic if not diluted properly. Always consult your exotic vet before using oregano medicinally for your rabbit.

11. Lavender

Lavender is a fragrant herb best known for its calming, soothing properties. For rabbits, lavender can:

  • Ease anxiety and stress – The scent of lavender triggers the brain to release relaxing compounds like serotonin. Use aromatherapy or a lavender-scented toy to calm anxious rabbits.

  • Improve sleep – Lavender’s sedative properties promote better sleep. Use dried lavender in bedding or spritz lavender water in your rabbit's room before bedtime.

  • Repel insects – The potent aroma helps deter mosquitos, mites, and flies. Place dried lavender in housing or apply diluted oil to fur.

  • Heal scrapes and wounds – Applied topically, lavender oil promotes faster wound healing and prevents infection in minor scrapes or cuts on the skin.

  • Treat dry skin – Lavender’s antimicrobial actions combat the bacteria and fungus that cause some dry skin conditions in rabbits. Use diluted oil on affected areas.

Always monitor your rabbit closely for adverse effects when using lavender for the first time or switching brands/doses. Use therapeutic grade, chemical-free lavender oil.

12. Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a lemon-scented herb in the mint family. It has relaxing and antiviral properties that can benefit rabbits. Some uses include:

  • Settles digestive upset – The terpenes in lemon balm help relieve gas pains, bloating, cramping and other minor gastrointestinal issues by relaxing gut spasms. Give a small sprig or two.

  • Reduces stress/anxiety – Lemon balm incites a feeling of calmness and eases restlessness. Use aromatherapy, toys, or feed the herb to relaxed anxious buns.

  • Antiviral properties – Research shows lemon balm can disrupt the reproduction of some viruses and strengthen the immune response. May help prevent viral infections.

  • Boosts cognition – Some of the compounds in lemon balm may improve cognitive function, learning, and memory in rabbits. Though more research is still needed.

Start with small amounts of fresh lemon balm leaves or use very diluted essential oil to ensure good tolerance. Monitor your rabbit for any adverse side effects.

13. Parsley

Parsley is a nutrient-dense herb that offers rabbits benefits such as:

  • Promotes urinary health – The high vitamin C content creates an acidic urine pH to prevent UTI-causing bacteria. Parsley’s diuretic effect also helps flush the urinary tract.

  • Powerful antioxidant – Parsley is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and flavonoids that neutralize disease-causing free radicals to support overall health.

  • Freshens breath – Chewing on parsley leaves can reduce odors in the mouth associated with dental disease or gut stasis issues. Offer fresh sprigs.

  • Boosts circulation – The high iron content improves the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells to enhance circulation and provide an energy boost.

  • Aids arthritis – Parsley has anti-inflammatory properties that may alleviate joint swelling and discomfort associated with arthritis when given regularly.

Chop parsley leaves finely before giving to your rabbit to prevent choking. Introduce new herbs slowly and monitor for any diarrhea or adverse effects.

14. Plantain

Plantain is a common backyard weed with healing properties. For rabbits it can:

  • Soothe skin irritations – Plantain leaves contain mucilage that coats and protects raw, irritated skin and speeds up healing. Apply chewed leaf topically.

  • Cure minor wounds – Compounds in plantain stop bleeding, prevent infection, and promote rapid wound closure. Crush leaves and apply to cuts or scrapes.

  • Relief insect bites and stings – Plantain reduces inflammation, swelling, itching, and discomfort from bug bites thanks to the antihistamine effects.

  • Clear respiratory congestion – The mucilage in plantain also relieves coughs, congestion, and lung irritation associated with respiratory infections.

  • Treat eye infections – The antibacterial actions help fight conjunctivitis and other infectious eye conditions. Use a weak plantain tea eyewash.

Identify plantain weed properly before use as some weeds look similar. Always monitor your rabbit closely for adverse effects when giving a new herb. Start with small amounts.

15. Rose Petals

Fragrant rose petals have gentle medicinal benefits for rabbits when used properly. Benefits can include:

  • Mild sedative effect – Compounds in rose petals induce a sense of relaxation and may ease anxiety, stress, or restlessness. Scatter petals in your rabbit's environment.

  • Antidepressant – Rose petals influence serotonin levels in the brain to help lift depression. Give as aromatherapy or dried petals.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Rose contains antioxidants like vitamin C, quercetin, and catechins that reduce inflammation, especially in the GI tract. Soothes guts irritated by stasis.

  • Respiratory relief – Rose petal tea may help relieve congestion and coughing associated with minor respiratory infections.

  • Urinary tract health – The diuretic action of rose petals helps flush out the kidneys and prevent urinary tract infections.

Only use petals from roses grown pesticide-free. Introduce new herbs slowly. Stop use if diarrhea or adverse effects occur.

16. Rosemary

Rosemary is an aromatic culinary herb that has some medicinal properties for rabbits when used prudently:

  • Pain relief – Rosemary contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic compounds that can provide relief from arthritis discomfort, dental disease, or injury pain when applied topically.

17. Thyme

Thyme contains antioxidants like rosmarinic acid and flavonoids that offer rabbits medicinal benefits:

  • Antimicrobial – Thyme has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties to fight common rabbit illnesses like respiratory infections, conjunctivitis, intestinal issues, and ear infections.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Compounds in thyme reduce inflammation, especially in the GI tract. Helpful for gut stasis or diarrhea associated with irritated intestines.

  • Antispasmodic – Thyme relaxes muscle spasms and tension throughout the body. May provide relief from hiccups, muscle cramps, or other involuntary muscle contractions.

  • Insect repellant – The strong scent of thyme helps repel mosquitos, flies, and parasites when rubbed on your rabbit's fur or placed in housing areas.

Start with a small sprig of fresh thyme leaves or a pinch of dried herb to ensure tolerance. Stop use if any diarrhea or adverse reaction occurs.

18. Sage

Sage is an aromatic herb in the mint family that has some beneficial properties for rabbits:

  • Dries up milk – Sage contains compounds that stop milk production by suppressing prolactin. Helpful when weaning baby bunnies from their mother.

  • Kills bacteria – Sage has strong antibacterial effects against common rabbit illnesses like respiratory and GI infections. Contains thujone and cineole.

  • Reduces gas – The essential oil of sage can relax intestinal spasms and relieve painful gas associated with gut stasis.

  • Aids digestion – Some of sage's compounds increase bile and enzyme secretions to support healthy digestion. Helpful for gut slowdown.

  • Antioxidant protection – Sage provides anti-inflammatory antioxidants like rosmarinic acid to neutralize damaging free radicals in cells.

Use fresh or dried sage sparingly due to its potency. Avoid giving to pregnant rabbits. Monitor for reduced appetite, diarrhea, or lethargy.

19. Willow Bark

Willow bark contains a compound called salicin which offers natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits:

  • Eases arthritis – Willow bark supplements significantly reduce joint swelling, stiffness, and discomfort associated with arthritis. Must be given regularly.

  • Natural pain relief – The salicin reduces sensitivity to pain and provides gentle relief from injury, dental disease, muscle pain and more.

  • Lowers fever – Willow bark has antipyretic effects to bring down fevers associated with infections or illness. Helpful for respiratory infections.

  • Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation throughout the body, but especially helpful for sore, inflamed intestines that can cause gut stasis. Also used topically.

Look for pet-safe willow bark supplements and follow your vet's dosage directions carefully. Start with low doses to ensure tolerance.

20. Yucca

Yucca contains antioxidant compounds like resveratrol as well as saponins that offer rabbits these benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory – Yucca has steroidal effects to reduce inflammation in conditions like arthritis, respiratory disease, and intestinal irritation. Eases joint pain.

  • Helps gut motility – Saponins improve gut peristalsis to relieve constipation associated with gut stasis. Gets GI tract moving.

  • Boosts immunity – Yucca promotes antibody formation and white blood cell activity to better protect against common illnesses.

  • Antimicrobial – Some evidence indicates yucca has antibacterial and antifungal properties to fight certain infections. Needs more research.

  • Dissolves struvite crystals – The saponins may help dissolve painful struvite bladder crystals. More studies are still needed.

Use powdered yucca root or pet-safe yucca supplements only. Follow your vet’s dosing guide carefully to avoid toxicity.

Where to Find Herbs for Your Rabbit

When using herbs for your rabbit, it's important to choose high-quality herbs from reputable sources:

Fresh Herbs

  • Grow your own herbs at home in an indoor or outdoor herb garden. Choose pesticide-free plants.

  • Purchase fresh herb bunches at your local farmer's market or natural grocer. Look for organic or pesticide-free herbs.

  • Harvest safe herbs like dandelion, plantain, clover, basil or mint fresh from your yard or neighborhood (avoid roadside areas).

Dried Herbs

  • Buy dried, organic culinary herbs from the spice aisle of your grocery store or natural market.

  • Look for dried herbs packaged specifically for pets at your local pet supply shop or online herbal retailers.

  • Purchase dried herbs from an herbal apothecary that sells medicinal grade herbs.

Only give your rabbit herbs that are fresh, organic, non-sprayed and chemical free. Introduce new herbs slowly while watching for any adverse reactions. Consult your rabbit-savvy vet for dosing guidance.


Leave a Comment