Natural Solutions for
Rabbit Health Problems
Information contributed from members of the Herbal Rabbit group. Individual acknowledgements are shown.
RABBIT WITH BLOOD IN URINE
“Last summer I was given advice to use Hydrangea on our 7-year old rabbit that had blood in the urine. It was suggested that she may be trying to pass a kidney stone. I began giving it to her and it cleared up. Since she is an older rabbit, I’ve decided to continue it as a preventative so she gets some each day on her apple. It’s nice to have a natural solution and something so simple to help her.” Ruth
CONJUNCTIVITIS/WEEPY EYES – Provided by Cheryl
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the eyeball called the conjunctiva. Key symptoms of conjunctivitis is increased sensitivity to light which will cause squinting of the rabbits eyes or frequently keeping them closed. It is also painful with soreness or swelling with discharge that may be watery or contain pus.
Agrimony (Agrimonia spp.)
Use a weak infusion for conjunctivitis
Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile & Matricaria recutita)
Dissolve 5-10 drops of tincture in warm water, use for conjunctivitis or strained eyes
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
Make an infusion and wash the eyes and add a few drops into the eyes after the wash. It is for sore and inflamed eyes so can’t say if it will work as i have never tried it. You could also try to add some of the infusion into the rabbits water.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Use a cooled and strained infusion for conjunctivitis and other eye problems
Walnut leaves (Juglans spp.)
Use a strained infusion or 5 drops of tincture in 20ml of warm water for conjunctivitis
Motherwort (Leonurus spp.)
Use a weak decoction for conjunctivitis, sore or tired eyes
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Use 5-10 drops of tincture in 20ml water or a well-strained infusion for conjunctivitis
“I have tried Echinacea and it has worked for me but only for a short time. The buck had weepy eye for quite some time though, so it was probably too late.”
“When they are constipated, cooked apple works well. Usually with the first application, rarely does it take 2 applications to see a change. I have found that the herbal remedies work effectively, and are usually on hand in my kitchen cabinet.” J.C. from Texas
DIARRHEA (scours) – Provided by Cheryl
Apple (Malus domestica)
Apple pulp is rich in pectin. That’s why apples and applesauce are a folk remedy for diarrhea. Apple pectin also helps treat constipation because it acts as a gentle stool softener. It’s an amphoteric, which means that it works in either direction, plugging up the bowels when loose or loosening them up if constipated.
Bilberry & Blueberry (Vaccinium, various species)
Dried berries (fruits) help relieve diarrhea because they are rich in tannins and pectin.
Blackberry & Raspberry (Rubus,various species)
Leaves fresh or dried are also high in tannin so are also very good for diarrhea.
Carrot (Daucus carota)
Use cooked carrots to treat diarrhea. When they’re cooked, carrots seem to soothe the digestive tract and control the diarrhea while also providing nutrients that are lost.
“I use your pet pages to help treat my rabbits with herbs. When they have bouts of diarrhea, I always use the cooked carrots and apple. Usually with the first application, rarely does it take 2 applications to see a change. I have found that the herbal remedies work effectively, and are usually on hand in my kitchen cabinet.” J.C. from Texas
“Have you tried Ginger? I suggested it to a friend who was desperate, losing weaning age bunnies by the handful, and she swears by it now. She sprinkles a couple of tablespoons of powdered ginger on their feed daily and says she hasn’t lost any since she started using it. It works well for nausea and/or diarrhea.” Dawn
“I use a mix of apple cider vinegar in olive oil. First, clean the ear with a Q-tip, removing the brown waxy build-up. Then, with a dropper, drop 6 or 7 drops in each ears, holding the ear flap closed for a few minutes after each treatment to keep bunny from shaking the oil all over you. A few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the water bottle is also supposed to act as a repellent and general tonic. Handy stuff…a basic for any bunny medicine cabinet! Dawn
“I have a book called “Everything I Ever Knew About Fleas And Was Afraid You’d Never Ask,” by Rocky. Following are some excerpts from that book: – Provided by Alice
• Certain herbs such as sage, tobacco, eucalyptus, sassafras, bay leaf and vetiver when dried and powdered and used on pets and surroundings help to repel fleas.
• Natural diatomaceous earth sprinkled on pet bedding or on the animal will kill fleas by the silicon material of the earth dehydrating them by chafing their shells which causes them to lose body fluids. You must be very careful, though, in applying it because the dust can irritate the lungs of both you and the pet.
• Quite good results have been had with feeding brewers yeast and garlic to the pet as apparently the smell comes out in the skin of the animal and repels the fleas. This method is not terribly efficacious by itself but is a help when used with other methods. And as both are healthy food additives they cannot help but be good for the animal even if they don’t work too effectively against fleas.
“I have heard that apple cider vinegar, when added to the water, will cause rabbits to be unattractive to fleas. It doesn’t actually kill them (unless you drown them in it!), but is supposed to make the rabbit “smell” wrong to the fleas. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but we add a couple of tablespoons to 32 oz of water about once a month, and haven’t had fleas on the bunnies (we also have 4 cats & 3 dogs who are often in the bunny barn, and who play with bunnies who visit the house). However, we also treat with Ivermec regularly, so who knows?” Dawn
“Mixing plain water with the essential oil “citronella” works pretty well. You need to keep shaking the spray bottle while you’re spraying to keep it mixed. I don’t know the exact proportions but I’d say 10 drops of oil to 1 cup of water would be pretty good.” Debi
Tea Tree Oil works well. We keep it mixed up in a spray bottle — about 20 drops to 1-1/2 cups. Just spritz it on whatever needs it — cuts, sores, etc. We also spray the cages after power washing/cleaning as a disinfectant — it’s antibacterial as well. — Debi
INFERTILITY – Provided by Cheryl
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
According to reports of research with animals in Saudi Arabia, Ginger significantly increased sperm count and motility of the sperm. You can buy Ginger in health food stores whole. Give in small pieces the size of a quarter (coin).
Spinach ( Spinacia oleracea)
Several studies suggest that zinc deficiencies may be tied to male infertility and poor sperm quality. Good sources of zinc include Spinach, Parsley, Collards, Brussels Sprouts, Cucumbers, String Beans, Endive, Cowpeas, Prunes and Asparagus. Feed in small quantities until they get use to it as they may cause scours; it may be a good idea to feed hay along with the greens as a preventative to scours.
Sunflower (Helianhus annuus)
Often recommended is supplementation with the amino acid arginine for low sperm count in humans – 4 grams per day. That’s the amount found in about 2 ounces of sunflower seeds. For rabbits I would cut that amount to less than a 1/4 ounce. They can get pretty fat on the seeds. Sunflower seeds are the highest for arginine at 8.2% on a dry weight basis. Other herbs rich in this nutrient include: Peanuts, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Watercress, Almonds, Broad Beans, Lentils and Fenugreek ( do not use to much of this herb as it can cause abdominal distress- 1/4 tsp.(1.25 ml) or less).
Oat (Avena sativa)
Oats have long been considered a male sexual energizer. Herbalists suggest that oats boost male fertility. You can get oats cheaply in oatmeal and at bulk food stores. 1-2 tablespoons a day for a week and then once or twice a week thereafter.
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
Raspberry leaf is usually recommended for pregnant females to calm uterine irritability, but raspberry leaves added to the males’ feed increases fertility.
INFLAMMATION OF THE EYES
“Among it’s other very well known uses, an infusion of Basil (basilcon vulgarae majus et ocimum) is really good for inflammation of the eyes, works for us as well as the rabbits. Tried and tested!” Judy
Parsley ( Petroselium crispum ) “Parsley is a diuretic that helps prevent and treat kidney stones. It is recommended to make a tea of dried root, drinking 2-3 times a day. It would have to be given orally to rabbits to help dissolve them. Use fresh as a preventative.” Cheryl
“I use Raspberry leaves for rabbits in labour. When they are ready to give birth, I give the does just a leaf or two to stimulate labour. I give raspberry leaf tea if they are late or not progressing well in their labours. I squirt the tea into their mouths if they are too exhausted to eat the leaves.” Kellie
“I want to thank you for this website. It has been most helpful for my pregnant doe. She was in labor and stopped giving birth for 15 hours. I went and bought a lavender plant and gave her a little of the flowers. Within 4 hours she had 5 babies born. Peanut Butter (the mother doe) and my whole family say Thank you!” J.H.
MILK, Drying It Up
Parsley is an herb known to dry up breast milk and can be used with rabbits also.
“When I drink a cup of Red Raspberry tea I always give the tea bag to the doe. I’ve had a few of them that miscarry in the third week and the Red Raspberry seems to help them.” Lula
“I’ve had an ongoing problem with skin mites on the ears of one of my lops and after reading about Tea Tree Oil and mites decided to give it a go. After all the flea powder and rinse had done little good. I mixed some up with plain old vegetable oil [about 1 tablespoon and 3-4 drops of oil] and smothered her ears with it. I noticed a difference within 48 hours and have done it a second time, and her ears are looking about 200% better.” Barb
PAIN – Provided by Cheryl
Willow bark contains salicin. It is an effective pain reliever for everything. For pain relief in people they recommend 1/2 tsp. of willow bark or up to as much as 5 tsp. of white willow (S.alba – which is lower in salicin concentrate – salicin varies from species to species of willow). So start with a low dose of bark tea given orally. I have given my bunnies a small branch of leaves with no problems.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Good for painful muscle conditions.
Sunflower (Helianushus annuus)
Sunflower seeds are among the best sources of Phenylaline, a chemical involved in pain control.
Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo)
Pumpkin seeds and there extracts have been shown to immobilize and aid in the expulsion of intestinal worms and other parasites. The seeds can be bought at a bulk food store hulled and the bunnies just love them.
Garlic (Allium sativum) Use garlic to treat pinworms, roundworms, giardia (an Amoeba) and other parasitic infections.
“Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated Dandelion‘s effectiveness against pneumonia, bronchitis and upper respiratory infections. Use fresh leaves, flowers and dig up root, all parts can be dried, also useful to make a tea with all parts especially the root.” Cheryl
“I want to thank you for this website. It has been most helpful for my pregnant doe. She was in labor and stopped giving birth for 15 hours. I went and bought a lavender plant and gave her a little of the flowers. Within 4 hours she had 5 babies born. Peanut Butter (the mother doe) and my whole family say THANK YOU!” J.H.
“We use vitamin C for stress. It’s a tip that an “old-timer” passed on to me. Just drop a 1000 mg tablet in the water bottle & let it dissolve. Or, try Rosehips – a naturally high source of vitamin C, which rabbits should eat happily. Our Angoras tend to be low-stress guys & gals anyway, but it certainly hasn’t hurt. There seems to be less “show molting” going on, which I associate with stress.” Dawn
Garden Thyme (Thymus) mashed and pounded with vinegar, applied to the swelling and bound with a dressing, works well for swellings.” Judy