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Rabbits/are essential oils & dried herbs safe for rabbits?

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Question
I am being asked in person and in online rabbit forums/FB groups about whether Young Living essential oil is safe for application to rabbit fur? I am inclined to be very skeptical of these as rabbits will be ingesting these essential oils while grooming, even if diluted, but wanted your expert opinion. Here's the promotional literature seen online: https://madhatterrabbits.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/using-essential-oils-on-your-bunny/ Also, I recently was asked if herbal remedies given in the form of dried herbs are safe for rabbits? Someone wanted to give the contents of herbal tea bags (containing no black or green tea leaves) with herbal/fruits blend teas like hibiscus, rose hip, peppermint, chamomille, lavender, dried blueberries/citrus/apple to their rabbit mixed into hay to induce hay eating. The questions ppl ask nowadays!

Answer
Dear Iris,

I agree with you.  I'm not into voodoo medicine for rabbits, and it's often based on what people use on humans.  They don't seem to realize that not all species metabolize chemical agents the same way.  

While chamomile extract might not be harmful, I doubt it's very effective as a soother or antiseptic.  And I would never put tea tree oil on a bunny.  It's from the melaleuca, and it contains a lot of phenolic compounds of questionable safety.  Lavendar is not dangerous in small quantities, but the reason plants make these aromatic compounds is usually to deter herbivores.  So if it's not outright toxic, it still might be unpleasant in a high concentration.

With so many good alternatives around, why would you subject your bunny to (snake) oils of questionable efficacy and safety?  Just because it comes from a plant and smells good (or is not harmful to a mammal as large as a human) doesn't mean it's safe for a rabbit.

Hope that helps!

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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