Providing information about house rabbit care including

 diet, behavior, housing and much more!






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What's Up Doc?


Where to go when

Your Rabbit Gets Sick


With a good diet, clean living quarters and proper handling, a rabbit can avoid most illnesses and injuries.  However, just like people a rabbit can get sick or injured even if they do all the right things.  A great link for rabbit emergency supplies to have on hand can be found at this link:  Emergency Kit

Take your ill or injured rabbit to a vet since this page outlines only a few of the most common problems.  A vet can do a thorough examination and blood tests on your rabbit.  It can save their life!  Scroll down for more information.


By the way, a disabled rabbit can have a great life!  See Caring for a Disabled Rabbit.

House Rabbit Society has a list of rabbit veterinarians on their web site.

Quick Guide to Common Ailments:

Amoxicillin, this common antibiotic is extremely toxic to rabbits.

Bacterial Infections – rabbits can get a range of them including salmonella. 

Heat Stroke – rabbits need lots of fresh water and ventilation in the summer since this can be fatal.  They get over heated at 85 degrees.  See Buns in the Sun page for tips on keeping your rabbit cool!

Eating the Cecotrophes (looks like their fecal pellet, but has mucus covering it) is normal and healthy.  Okay, it’s disgusting for us humans to watch, but cecotrophes have high level of vitamins and are redigested with more important nutrients.  See suggestion for a litter box for a rabbit recovering from surgery at Scoop on Litter.

Dental –  Malocclusion.  This is when rabbits teeth are overgrown.  Rabbit teeth grow throughout their lives and on a yearly basis they can grow 4 to 5 inches.  So the long fibers of hay are important for the grinding action to keep their teeth worn down.  However, some rabbits may not have a normal wearing action when they chew and develop a malocclusion.  It can be severe enough to keep them from eating and so the teeth will need to be trimmed as needed.  In severe case the teeth are removed.  By the way, do not try clipping the teeth yourself, they require special scissors so the teeth do not crack.

Ear Mites – get the rabbit to a vet for treatment  You will see crusty, inflamed inner ears.  This condition is easily treated and even severe cases can clear up with proper treatment.  

GI Stasis - this is a killer, my first rabbit, Groucho, passed away from this so I have firsthand experience.  It is a blockage or slowing of the digestive process so food is not passing properly.  Please see the following link for an excellent article by Dana Krempels, GI Stasis, The Silent Killer

Hairballs – this is especially dangerous for rabbits because unlike a cat, rabbits cannot vomit.  Long-haired breeds are particularly susceptible.  A constant supply of timothy hay is the most important food for rabbits to help with proper digestion.  Timothy hay is available at farm and feed stores by the bale or in smaller amounts from pet stores.

High Blood Calcium – thick chalky urine is one sign of hypercalciuria.  It can become painful and cause kidney stones so it is important to have a vet examine the rabbit. The color of your rabbit’s urine is related to its diet so don’t be alarmed if it is red after a lot of carrots.  

Obesity – this can lead to other complications.  Skip the pellets and give your rabbit a constant free supply of timothy hay and feed them leafy greens low in calcium.  Alfalfa hay and alfalfa pellets are very rich and can put on the pounds. Timothy hay, timothy hay cubes and timothy hay based pellets are available in pet stores and online at several suppliers.

Lead poisoning – be sure they aren’t chewing on painted objects or molding.  

Paralysis  - a rabbit has a very fragile backbone.  If the rabbit is not handled properly it can leap out of your arms and break it's back.  It can also break a leg by making contact with a hard surface when it is struggling.  If the rabbit injures its back, it can suffer paralysis in one or both back legs.  See a vet about this.  A rabbit can have a good life even as a disabled bunny and cart that are made for dogs can be outfitted for rabbits.  Euthanasia doesn't have to be your last resort  in this case.  

Snuffles – Pasteurella - looks like they have a cold. and is treatable with antibiotics.  Take your rabbit to a vet immediately especially if you have more than one rabbit.  If you do, take them all since it is highly contagious.

Sore Hocks – usually caused from wire flooring in a cage or wet bedding or flooring.  Rabbits don’t have food pads like dogs and cats.  Be sure the cage has a solid floor with hay or a towel over the floor to give it a cushion.  If your rabbit has a medical problem and is urinating on it's hind legs and they are wet.... wash the urine off.  I have heard of bunny owners rubbing bag balm on the areas to keep the wet urine off the skin.  I used this on Groucho and it healed the urine scald sores and sore hocks on another rescued rabbit.  However, if a rabbit is wetting his hind legs it means there maybe another more serious medical problem so take him to the vet!

Spay or Neuter your rabbit before 2 years of age and preferably when they show signs of become reproductive maturity.  Most rabbit breeds are sexually mature at 4 to 6 months. This will avoid medical problems later on and other behavior such as spraying urine, territorial marking with feces and aggressiveness.  See Too Many Rabbits page for information on how to sex a rabbit and why to have them spayed and neutered.




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