are essential oils & dried herbs safe for rabbits?
Rabbits/are essential oils & dried herbs safe for rabbits?
Expert: Dana Krempels, Ph.D. - 1/28/2016
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!
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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)
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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