If you have a pet rabbit, it’s important to give your bunny regular wellness checks to ensure good health. Signs of a Sick Rabbit: If you spot something that doesn’t seem normal, consult a veterinarian who’s experienced in rabbits as soon as possible. The following are common rabbit health issues that might indicate your bunny is sick and could need treatment.
Rabbit hairballs and intestinal blockage
Every few months, rabbits shed their hair in bouts of heavy and mild shedding. Rabbits consume a lot of hair since they are exceedingly clean and frequently groom themselves and/or their friends. This hair can accumulate over time and obstruct the stomach outlet, causing the rabbit to starve to death and give the appearance of having a large stomach. When their health is in danger, rabbits cannot pass a hairball as cats can. It goes without saying that hairballs are a significant cause of issues, and even death, in rabbits.
Loss of appetite is the initial indication of a hairball or intestinal obstruction in rabbits. The rabbit’s excrement gets smaller and frequently looks like a string of pearls, or it may contain hairs or fragments of whatever it has consumed. The rabbit will then lose weight and have a bloated tummy. The rabbit can also seem to be in discomfort. If you think you might have a hairball issue, get medical help right once.
Regular brushing and combing of your rabbit is essential to preventing obstructions. In addition, give your rabbit daily access to limitless Timothy hay. The fiber in the little compressed hay blocks is too small and ineffective to be used. Make sure your bunny exercises frequently so that any eaten hair may pass through the rabbit’s system more easily. And from time to time, give either fresh or frozen (not canned) pineapple, which has bromelain, an enzyme that aids in hair breakdown. Laxatives are often not a smart idea because they tend to dehydrate rabbits; if you’re thinking about using them, talk to your veterinarian.
Teeth malocclusion in rabbits
Rabbits regularly chew to maintain the right size of their teeth since they are always developing. However, some rabbits have teeth that are not adequately aligned and continue to elongate (maloccluded). For the rabbit to be able to feed, the teeth must be cut on a regular basis. Your veterinarian can perform this procedure or teach you how to do it yourself.
Very infrequently, a rabbit will require extraction of its front teeth due to severe malocclusion. As long as you chop their meal into little pieces, these rabbits thrive. Front teeth may be readily misaligned, but your bunny’s rear teeth may need to be examined by your veterinarian. Wetness on your bunny’s chin from drooling is one sign that the rear teeth may be problematic. Each time you brush your rabbit, make sure to look at its teeth.
Sneezing, runny nose, and runny eyes
Sneezing may, but is not usually, a warning indication of problems. You should take your rabbit to the doctor right once if sneezing is followed by runny eyes, a runny nose, or both, especially if there is also a decrease of appetite. The cause of a rabbit’s sneezing may be allergies or possibly nothing at all if the rabbit exhibits no other symptoms and is eating normally. However, keep an eye out for the emergence of any other symptoms and stay in touch with your rabbit’s veterinarian.
Bunny parasites: Fleas, mites, and internal parasites
Like other pets, rabbits can get fleas. But because rabbits are very sensitive to chemicals, be careful about the products you use on your rabbit, as well as the products you use to treat your home and yard. Always consult with your vet. If the use of chemicals is absolutely necessary, look for products that are safe for kittens. If you treat your yard, do not allow your rabbit in it for at least a week — and only after you’ve watered the yard thoroughly to wash off any residual chemicals.
Here are other common parasites that your rabbit might get:
- Skin mites live on the skin dander of rabbits and will cause your rabbit to scratch. If left untreated, they will eventually cause thick crusts to develop on the rabbit’s body. Your vet can administer a drug called ivermectin to treat this problem.
- Ear mites cause rabbits to shake their heads frequently and scratch their ears. If left untreated, a middle-ear infection could develop, which might cause a problem with the bunny’s balance. Ivermectin is also recommended for ear mites.
- Internal parasites called coccidia can infect the small intestine. Symptoms can range from a loss of appetite to chronic diarrhea and occasionally death. Testing for coccidia is as easy as taking a fecal sample to your vet.
- Some people incorrectly believe that rabbit feces carry disease that can result in toxoplasmosis from cleaning a rabbit’s litter box. Rabbits cannot carry or reproduce the spores that are harmful. Unfortunately, many rabbits are abandoned because of an unfounded fear of toxoplasmosis.
If pet rabbits you bring home are free parasites, it is unlikely that they will get them as long as they are kept inside, their home is kept clean, and they are not exposed to other animals who might carry parasites.
Red urine in rabbits
Urine from a rabbit can be clear, yellow, brown, or brilliant red in color. Unless there are accompanying symptoms, such as sitting and straining to urinate, appetite loss, or an increased fever, none of these colors should be cause for concern. Don’t freak out if you notice crimson pee; there may not necessarily be blood there. However, keep an eye out for further symptoms that can point to a problem. The crimson hue normally fades within a day or two, but it might linger for much longer. Urine containing crimson specks rather than actual blood can be seen in some cases. Avoid putting your bunny’s health at danger if you’re unsure. Ask your veterinarian to check the animal’s urine for blood.
Read More: The Complete Guide to Grooming Your Rabbit
Rabbit health emergencies
In case of an emergency that arises after business hours or on a holiday, see your rabbit veterinarian to learn the right course of action. While some vets will send you to an emergency facility, others will refer you to an on-call vet. Remember that many clinics lack exotic pet veterinarians on staff. Your rabbit will be stabilized, but you must make an appointment with your rabbit veterinarian as soon as you can.
Rabbit health conditions that require emergency care (within 24 hours) include:
- Diarrhea with listlessness
- Loss of appetite with bloat and/or abdominal gurgling
- Loss of appetite with labored breathing
- Loss of appetite with runny nose or eyes
- Head tilt or loss of coordination
- Abscesses and/or swelling
- Any sudden behavior change
- A thick nose or eye discharge
- Any sign of severe pain (loud teeth grinding, hunched posture, shallow or rapid breathing, excessive grooming, reduced activity, or facing the corner with head down)
Finally, keep in mind that the antibiotic amoxicillin, which is pink in color and has a bubblegum scent, is extremely hazardous to rabbits and should never be given to one by a veterinarian. The good bacteria in the rabbit’s intestines are destroyed by amoxicillin and other penicillin derivatives, which can also damage other organs.
Other antibiotics, like Chloromycetin, Tetracycline, and Baytril, can be administered to rabbits without risk. Sometimes a rabbit cannot take an antibiotic (signs include appetite loss and diarrhea), in which case your veterinarian may have to try a different medication. Any time a symptom appears or changes, inform your veterinarian right away.
Finally, it is our responsibility as responsible pet owners to put our beloved bunnies’ health and wellbeing first. To keep them happy and healthy, routine wellness exams are essential. Consult a veterinarian who is skilled in caring for rabbits if you observe anything unexpected or unsettling in your rabbit’s behavior or look.
Hairballs and intestinal obstructions, misaligned teeth, sneezing with wet nose and eyes, and parasitic infestations including flea, mite, and internal parasites are some frequent health problems to keep a look out for. To avoid future difficulties, each of these illnesses has to be treated effectively and promptly.
To reduce the danger of certain health issues, keep your rabbit’s living space tidy and offer them plenty of opportunity for exercise. Be cautious while using chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and make sure that rabbits can safely consume them.
Act swiftly and seek prompt veterinarian treatment if your rabbit ever has a health emergency. Learn the symptoms that need to be addressed right away, including extreme diarrhea, bloating and loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, head tilting, paralysis, incontinence, and rapid changes in behavior.
Finally, be careful when giving your rabbit antibiotics because some of them may be hazardous. Avoid using amoxicillin and other penicillin-based medications since they can harm a rabbit’s healthy gut bacteria and cause organ dysfunction. If necessary, speak with your veterinarian about safe and effective antibiotics for your rabbit.
With the right care to their health and well-being, you may have a pleasant and long-lasting relationship with your furry pet. Caring for a rabbit can be a fulfilling and gratifying experience. To maintain a long and healthy life for your cherished pet, always stay educated and let your veterinarian know about any changes in your rabbit’s health.