Herbs are a healthy way to bring variety and balance into your rabbits diet. They give your rabbit lots of new flavors to check out every day, making them a great enrichment tool to include in your rabbit’s environment. But herbs are good for more than just their yummy flavor. They also enhance your rabbit’s health with their natural nutrients and medicinal properties.
Eating a wide variety of herbs will ensure that your rabbit gets all the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy even as they age. There are also many, many herbs that have medicinal properties and can help to prevent or alleviate conditions, such as arthritis and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Whether dried or fresh, herbs can make your rabbit’s life a little more vibrant. They don’t need to be rationed the way sugary treats need to (such as carrots and bananas), so you don’t have to worry about upsetting your rabbit’s digestion. In fact, there are many herbs that can actually help your rabbit have better digestive health. So read on to learn all about different types of herbs and how they can benefit your rabbit.
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While herbs are generally healthy, can be used to enrich your rabbit’s life, and have mild medicinal properties, you should never try to treat a rabbit’s illness using just these herbs. If you notice any symptoms of illness in your rabbit please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Where to find herbs for your rabbit
There are two ways that you can give herbs to your rabbit, fresh or dried. Both are safe and likely to be very yummy to a rabbit. When I give my rabbit fresh herbs, I include them with her leafy greens. It’s important to give rabbits a few cups of fresh leafy greens on a daily basis, and many fresh herbs count toward this amount (parsley, cilantro, etc.).
Dried herbs, on the other hand, I use as an added flavoring to make my rabbit’s hay more enticing. I will take a handful of dried herbs and sprinkle them into my rabbit’s hay pile. This encourages her to munch on some of that all-important hay while she is foraging through the pile for the pieces of dried herbs.
You can find fresh herbs anywhere that fresh foods are sold, or you can grow these yourself. If you have a garden, or even some large flower pots, you can create an herb garden for your rabbit. It doesn’t get any fresher than that! But of course, you can find many of the more common herbs at your local grocery store and farmer’s market too!
Dried herbs can be a little more tricky to find. You can, of course, grow and dry herbs yourself if that’s something you know how to do. But if you’re looking for ready-made dried herbs that you can give to your rabbit, the only place that I know of is an online store called Small Pet Select.
They have a variety of herbal blends that you can choose from, all of which are safe for your rabbit to eat. They have herbal blends for helping anxious rabbits calm down, helping manage pain in elderly rabbits, boosting a rabbit’s immune system, and more yummy options.
I also get my rabbit’s hay and toys from Small Pet Select. They have really impressed me with the quality of their products and I never hesitate to recommend this shop. I even partnered with them to get you a discount for checking them out. If you use the code BUNNYLADY during checkout, you can get 15% off of your first order!
Basil is a common herb that you can find in just about any grocery store or farmers market. It contains a high concentration of phytochemicals, giving it a strong flavor and nutritional content. Basil also contains a few chemicals (including caffeic acid and salicylic acid) that have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This makes basil a mild pain reliever and can help prevent frequent infections in rabbits. It also helps in maintaining the health of rabbit fur and skin.
Cilantro is a fragrant herb that is generally very enticing to rabbits. Many elderly rabbits who are losing their sense of taste and smell will end up gravitating toward these aromatic herbs. Cilantro is also made up of a number of phytochemicals that can help aid in digestion, prevent frequent infections, reduce stress, and help alleviate symptoms of urinary tract infections. Cilantro is also known to contain geraniol, which helps prevent tumors.
Chamomile is a common flower herb used for its many different kinds of medicinal properties. It’s known to have calming properties that can reduce stress in rabbits, and can also reduce pain, inflammation, and even fever. Rabbits that tend to have a lot of digestive issues can benefit from having some chamomile because of its ability to reduce gas and the discomfort that goes along with it. (Chamomile is a flower and should be given to rabbits in small quantities as a treat)
Dandelion greens are some of the most nutritious weeds we can feed rabbits. They have a high mineral and vitamin content that helps to strengthen the immune system and prevent frequent infections and reduce pain and inflammation in rabbits. Dandelion greens are also known to aid in digestion and help prevent heart disease. However, dandelion greens do contain a high level of oxalate acid, so it’s best to feed this type of green in moderation.
Echinacea is a well known and effective medicinal herb that is used for boosting the immune system. It is very useful for rabbits that battle frequent infections and can be used to boost the overall health and vitality of your rabbit. Echinacea does such a good job at rebalancing a rabbit’s immune system that many veterinarians will actually recommend adding it to our rabbit’s regular diet.
Every other day or so, sprinkle a little bit of Echinacea on top of your rabbit’s hay or pellets to help them maintain a healthy immune system. After doing the research for this article, I’ve decided I’m going to get some of echinacea and start feeding it to my rabbit. They sell bags of this incredibly useful herb at Small Pet Select. (and don’t forget to take 15% off your order by using the code BUNNYLADY)
Fennel is an interesting herb that some rabbits really enjoy, though the flavor tends to be hit or miss. This herb is good for aiding in rabbit digestion by reducing gas, and it can help with symptoms of respiratory illness. There have also been studies done that show fennel seed extract aids in the prevention of kidney disease.
Mint, including peppermint and spearmint, contains a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients. It helps to reduce inflammation, making it good for helping rabbits with symptoms of arthritis. It can also help with digestive disorders, reducing fever, preventing infections, and treating urinary tract infections. Mint can be a great option for elderly rabbits because of its strong flavor and ability to help alleviate painful joints.
Goldenseal is another immune boosting herb for rabbits. It’s an effective anti-inflammatory treatment for rabbits who suffer from frequent infections. Goldenseal also has properties that help in treating bladder infections by acting as a natural antibiotic.
Rabbits that are frequently stressed out and anxious can benefit from calming herbs like kava. This herb can also help with getting the more aggressive rabbits to calm down and can be used for preventing any fighting when bonding two rabbits.
Oregano has properties that act as an immune boost for rabbits. It contains geraniol and rosmarinic acid that work to protect against tumors and carcinogens. They are also anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, helping rabbits to protect against infections. Oregano can also be used to reduce the likelihood of becoming reinfected or getting a secondary bacterial infection during a recovery period.
Like cilantro, lavender has the chemical geraniol, which has anti-tumor properties. This herb also has anti-fungal and blood thinning properties also, reducing cholesterol levels in rabbits. It also has some immune enhancing effects and works as a local anesthetic when used as a topical medication. Despite this, lavender is one of those plants that rabbits usually don’t enjoy very much. They’ll often avoid eating it because of the strong, sweet scent and unappetizing flavor.
Lemon balm contains rosmaranic acid which has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it an aid in preventing many diseases and can also be used to treat symptoms of arthritis.
Parsley is a very nutrient dense food that contains many vitamins, nutrients, and minerals that are beneficial to a rabbit’s health. It can alleviate some of the pain from arthritis, reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, protect against digestive disorders and urinary tract infections, and prevent frequent infections. Parsley is also very easy to find in grocery stores and easy to grow in an herb garden.
Plantain, also known as ribwort, is good for preventing urinary tract infections. It’s also an herb that is good for a rabbit’s overall health, with qualities that aid in digestion, lower fever, and soothe inflammation. It can also be made into a topical medication that can be used as a mild antibiotic.
Roses also have some health benefits for rabbits. The petals, in particular, act as an anti-carcinogen and may help in preventing the development of cancer. The petals can also aid in preventing infections, respiratory diseases, and they can help in calming a rabbit by reducing stress and anxiety. Rose hips are also known to aid in a rabbit’s digestive health.
Rosemary is another useful herb with mild medicinal properties that can help a rabbit’s overall health. It’s good for treating arthritis, preventing heart disease, aiding digestive health, and even helping in the prevention of some tumorous cancers.
Thyme contains caffeic acid and luteolin which give it antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has blood thinning effects that can help in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Thyme can also be used to alleviate the symptoms of respiratory illnesses and reduce fever in rabbits.
Like rosemary, sage is an herb that gives rabbits an overall boost to their health. It can be used to treat mild inflammation, aid in digestive health, reduce fever, and even help prevent frequent infections.
Though not exactly an herb, willow bark makes it to this list because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Willow bark has a high level of salicylic acid, which makes it the ideal chew toy for rabbits suffering from arthritis-related symptoms. The willow bark works as a pain reliever to help soothe your rabbit’s joints.
Yucca is a very useful herb that has a lot of nutrients and phytochemicals that are excellent for rabbit health. It has been shown to reduce cholesterol, helping to prevent heart disease. Yucca also works to boost the immune system of rabbits and is a strong anti-inflammatory. It’s often used in the treatment of arthritis. Yucca also reduces the amount of ammonia in rabbit urine, and aids in the prevention of liver and kidney disease.
- Bergstrøm, Camilla. “Feeding the house rabbit 3: Fresh herbs.” MediRabbit. http://www.medirabbit.com/EN/GI_diseases/Food/Herbs/herbs_en.htm.
- Catherine J. Chu and Kathi J. Kemper, MD, MPH. “Lavender (Lavandula spp.).” The Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research. July 2001. Accessed: https://blog.vanhove.fr/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Chu_Lavender_Pediatric_Education_and_Research_2001.pdf.
- Kidd, Randy DVM. “Pet Corner: Herbal Remedies for Rabbit Illnesses.” Mother Earth Living. June 2001. https://www.motherearthliving.com/pet-health/pet-corner-herbal-remedies-for-rabbits-26.
- Moore, Lucile. Rabbit Nutrition and Nutritional Healing. 3rd ed. 2017, pp. 62-75, 129-155, 164-170, 180-183, 203, 220.