How to Recognize Illness in Your Rabbit

Recognize Illness in Your Rabbit
Recognize Illness in Your Rabbit

How to Recognize Illness in Your Rabbit. The two most noticeable signs of sickness in a rabbit are lethargy and feces that are smaller than normal, very soft, very dry or nonexistent. Get to know your rabbit well so that you will also notice any sudden changes in behavior.

Things You'll Need

  • Styptic Powders
  • Baking Powder
  • Pet Nail Clippers
  • Phazyme
  • Veterinarian

Take your rabbit to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian for a well-bunny check when he first comes to live with you. Ask your vet to show you how to examine your rabbit at home.

Play with your rabbit for at least a few minutes every day. As he bonds with you, he'll let you touch him more often. He may even let you pick him up occasionally.

Do a full body check of your rabbit during your daily petting sessions. Gently check his ears, eyes, paws, legs, tummy, back and teeth, based on your veterinarian's instructions.

Observe his normal condition so that you will immediately recognize anything out of the ordinary such as lumps, sores, bruises or cuts. Note whether there's something in his ear, if his stomach seems full or tight, or if his teeth seem out of line.

Check the color of his urine daily; it can range from orange to yellow to brown. If you're not sure whether the urine looks normal, ask your vet to test a sample. Milky white or sludgy urine (containing a grainy, sandy material) means that your rabbit may be eating foods too high in calcium. The grains are calcified crystals, which can form painful bladder stones.

Check your rabbit's feces daily to get familiar with how they look when normal. If his feces are smaller than normal or oddly shaped or colored, his stomach or cecum may be blocked. Dry feces mean your rabbit may be dehydrated and needs subcutaneous fluids immediately. If his feces are too soft, he may have a virus. Bring your rabbit to the vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Take your rabbit to the veterinarian immediately if you suspect he's suffering from a blockage. Most vets will treat a blockage with medication and subcutaneous fluids.

Take a lethargic rabbit to the vet immediately. House rabbits are generally very active, unless they are napping. If your rabbit's usual activity level lessens, try to tempt him with his favorite vegetable, treat or toy. If he refuses his favorite treat, take him to the vet.

Keep some rabbit-safe supplies in your pet's medicine chest. If he is suffering from gas pain, ask your veterinarian for the correct dosage of Phazyme, based on your rabbit's body weight. Phazyme provides quick relief from gas pain for most rabbits. Also keep styptic powder or baking powder on hand to stop bleeding from broken toenails.

Tips & Warnings

  • Find a rabbit-savvy veterinarian as soon as you get your rabbit. Inexperienced vets do not always know which medications are safe for rabbits.
  • It's important to play with your rabbit and get him accustomed to your touch. You'll be better able to recognize signs of illness early, and your rabbit will be less likely to panic if you have to pick him up in an emergency.
  • If you want to keep updated about rabbit health, visit the listserv called Etherbun or the House Rabbit Society Web site (see the Related Sites).
  • If you are not sure whether something is wrong with your rabbit, take him to the vet. Because rabbits can't show you that they are in pain, it can be hard to tell that they're ill, even when you're a pro. Never take a chance on your rabbit's health. A sick rabbit can die within hours if not treated immediately.
  • If your rabbit is dehydrated, take him to the vet immediately for subcutaneous fluids.

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