is very important for all rabbits to get annual health checks. Older
rabbits, compromised rabbits and those with on-going health issues
may need to see their vets more frequently.
ALL VETS are qualified to care for rabbits [considered "exotics"].
It is advisable to locate a good vet before a problem arises
so that you have an established relationship and so that you are
not frantically trying to find good vet care during an emergency
situation. . Click here for
a list of local rabbit vets. Click here
for a list of tips and questions to use when interviewing potential
cannot stress enough the importance of talking to your vet and asking
questions about your rabbit’s health. YOU are the bunny-parent.
YOU know your pet. Only you can let your vet know of any
changes in behavior or habits---any information that may help your
vet make a more clear diagnosis. Familiarity with your rabbit’s’
habits and daily routines can be a critical part of good overall
health evaluation. This is just another reason why it is so important
that all rabbits be kept as House pets.
It is important to have a rectal thermometer and to know how to
use it. The normal rabbit temperature should be 101 – 103If
your rabbit’s temperature rises above 103 or below 101 –
contact your rabbit vet immediately.
is very basic overview of some common rabbit health concerns.
IF THE GI TRACT (gut) SHUTS DOWN, bunny stops eating/drinking
and will eventually starve to death and die. G.I. stasis is
responsible for a high percentage of problems and deaths in pet
rabbits, but it can be prevented in almost all cases with a high
fiber, low fat, low protein diet
do I know if there is a problem? Rabbits normally eat frequently
throughout the day. If your rabbit does not eat for 4-6 hours -
if there is ANY change in your rabbit’s normal eating habits
- contact your vet immediately. Always check bunny droppings when
cleaning the cage or litter box. Droppings are usually of uniform
size and consistent in shape. If droppings suddenly get smaller,
misshapen, or strung together with thick strands of hair (some hair
is normal, it means it is getting through), or if there are no droppings
at all – call your rabbit vet immediately.
How can I prevent this? FIBER!! GROOMING! EXERCISE!
Learn more about your rabbit’s
diet and nutrition. Rabbits must have timothy,
oat or other grass hay available to them 24 hours a day, as well
as plenty of fresh water. Like the rabbit in the wild who eats long
dry weeds and grass, your bunny needs to chew and digest this long
form of fiber in order to help hair pass through his system [as
well as helping proper gut function]. This doesn't mean you don't
have to groom your bunny; brushing your bunny several times a week
will help eliminate all those loose hairs before she gets a chance
to ingest them (while self-grooming). Plus, bunnies need at least
3-5 hours of out-of-enclosure exercise every day
in order to keep the gut functioning properly.
about GI Stasis:
Nursing Your Rabbit Through GI Stasis,
by Alexandra Logsdon
Stasis, The Silent Killer, by Dana Krempels, Ph.D
In Pet Rabbits, by Dana Krempels, Mary Cotter and Gil Stanzione
Caution: Not all flea and mite products are safe for rabbits.
Flea or mite dips and shampoos can be fatal to rabbits and they
are not necessary. Advantage for kittens is safe for rabbits and
works well for fleas; Revolution for puppies/kittens works well
for common fur mites, as does Ivermectin (oral or injectable).
DO NOT USE FRONTLINE ON YOUR RABBIT. RABBIT DEATHS HAVE
OCCURRED FROM THIS PRODUCT
NOTE: Zooh Corner does not advise the use of ANY chemicals in yards
where rabbits are allowed to play. There are a few eco-safe, natural
products on the market which are non-toxic to pets: contact your
vet for more information.
info on mites.
This is an internal parasite which generally infects the small intestine.
Symptoms can be loss of appetite, diarrhea, bloating, loss of hair;
occasionally no symptoms. While coccidia can generally be diagnosed
by a simple fecal ‘float’ test and treated by your vet,
it is possible to get a false negative result; for this
reason, if coccidian parasite is suspected, you may need to do a
second fecal float, or, if your vet feels enough evidence is present
(and other diagnoses have been ruled out) it may be useful to treat
the rabbit anyway. Coccidia spreads quickly through oral/anal contact,
so infected rabbits must be quarantined until given the okay by
your vet, and all ‘contact rabbits’ should be treated
is generally contracted by outside rabbits from damp dirt/grass,
where bacteria and parasites tend to hide and can be prevented by
bring bunnies inside to live.
Dental Problems in Rabbits, by
Dr. Sari Kanfer
Rabbit Dental Health, by Dr. Sari
Kanfer and Alexandra Logsdon
RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS (URI’s)
Rabbits do not get “colds.” If you notice your rabbit
sneezing frequently, if s/he has discharge coming from the nose
or eyes, or if your bunny sounds like s/he is congested or having
trouble breathing, call your rabbit vet immediately.
If you notice your rabbit’s head is tilting to one side or
the other, or if your rabbit appears to be having balance problems
– or if your rabbit’s eyes are rolling and s/he cannot
gain balance, call your rabbit vet immediately or go to the
nearest emergency hospital that has someone who deals with rabbits.
Inner ear infections can be the cause of this, but there are other
things such as e. cuniculi or pasteurella(etc.) that could also
be the cause.
Varies: Generally, the entire rabbit including the ears
is examined, and blood is drawn for testing (titer, culture &
sensitivity, CBC) to determine the cause. Often the rabbit vet will
also prescribe a general rabbit antibiotic for your pet until the
tests come back and full diagnosis can be made and a treatment plan
OF ALARM – GET TO THE VET IMEDIATELY
Not eating, not drinking, not urinating, not defecating
to urinate; blood in the urine
or urinating too frequently.
eating or drinking at all
of coordination, head tilt, unable to move properly
the teeth (often accompanied by dull eyes and a tight uncomfortable
posture) is a sign that your rabbit is in great distress or pain.
of these situations warrant immediate veterinary attention! Do not
wait a few minutes; do not “wait until Monday when the regular
vet is in” – go to the vet NOW.
DO NOT ALLOW your vet to administer oral Amoxicillin
or other oral penicillins to your rabbit. It can be fatal (it is
often a bright pink liquid that smells like bubble gum). All
drugs in the oral penicillin family can be dangerous for rabbits.
They kill the good bacteria in the intestines, allowing bad bacteria
to flourish. If you are unsure of a new vet, ASK if s/he is aware
that this family of drugs can be fatal to rabbits. A good rabbit
vet will know this. There are many good, rabbit-safe antibiotics,
such as Baytril and Bactrim.
bunny gets diarrhea or stops eating on any drug or for any reason
it is cause for immediate alarm. Talk to your vet or get a second
opinion, you may have to try a different drug.
Rabbit urine can vary in color from clear to yellow to brown to
red, generally due to dietary variants.
Is There Cause For Alarm? If you are in doubt, especially
about red urine, contact your vet to have the bunny seen and/or
urine tested. Milky urine --occasionally--- is normal, but if this
occurs frequently, for long periods of time, or if urine is thick
and sludgy, vet intervention is warranted. This is generally a sign
that there is too much calcium in your rabbit’s diet, but
before making any changes it is important to consult your rabbit
A rabbit can live life just fine with many disabling problems, such
as varying degrees of arthritis, loss of an eye, kidney disease...even
as an amputee! Many partially *paralyzed rabbits live long and happy
lives due to the dedicated care and love of their people. Your rabbit
may need a little help now and then---up and down from the couch,
in/out of cage, proper grooming---but it can be preferable choice
to euthanasia. Bunnies can scoot along just fine on three legs,
and who says bunny ears must be long and/or perfectly matched?
rabbits: Not everyone has the time and/or energy to
care for the special needs of a paraplegic bunny, but it very well
may be the preferable choice to euthanasia. With certain accommodations,
it is possible for a paraplegic bunny to live out his life very
happily! You may even consider adopting an older or very calm rabbit
as a companion, for affection, mental stimulation and help grooming.
Contact Zooh Corner for more information on how to deal with this
situation. We have had a lot of experience with older, ailing, compromised
and partially paralyzed rabbits and it has been very gratifying.