Is your rabbit ill?

Look out for these symptoms

When deciphering if your rabbit is sick, always remember that rabbits lie at the bottom of food chains, and in the wild, the weakest are the first ones to be preyed upon. Resultantly, rabbits innately tend to hide illnesses and injuries. While this may seem like a good survival tactic in the wild, for the domesticated ones, hiding symptoms only misleads caretakers, preventing prompt medical attention.

‘Normal’ behaviour in rabbits, however, cannot be specified. In general, rabbits mellow a bit with age. A three-month-old bunny might seem hyperactive compared to a more sedate five-year-old rabbit – different activity level, yet both considered normal.

Therefore, people who keep rabbits need to be particularly attentive to changes, subtle or blatant. We encourage you to observe your rabbit’s behaviour, activity level and droppings daily. Also, be sure to have good veterinarian contacts before your rabbit has the misfortune to fall ill. Quick help is of the essence, and ‘shopping’ for a vet isn’t practical.

Adapted from Pet Lovers Centre Magazine – Issue 11


Tooth Grinding

Loud grinding of teeth is a sign of pain. Do note that this is different from less-loud tooth purring, which you may hear when snuggling your rabbit!

Body Heat

Rabbit will regulate body temperature using their ears. Hence, very cold or very hot ears could indicate a fever or drop in body temperature. When coupled with other warming signs, a trip to the vet is imminent.

Loss of Balance or A Head Tilt

Often called wry neck, this is typically an inner ear infection, which can come on suddenly. Although treatment is potentially lengthy, a head tilt can be cured if treatment is begun early.

Wet Chin or Drooling

A sign of tooth problems or malocclusion. Also noticeable would be a decrease in appetite nand the ability to eat solid food like a whole carrot. See the vet immediately. Left untreated, such problems can lead to jaw bone infection, which is very difficult to treat. Depending on the rabbit's misalignment severity, its teeth may need to be trimmed regularly, or in severe cases, pulled.

Runny Eyes or Nose, Labored Breathing or Chronic Sneezing

These could be an indicator of allergies, upper respiratory infections, a blocked tear duct or other issues. See the vet.

Loss of Appetite or Lethargy

If your rabbit refuses its usual fresh food or any of its special treats for more than a day, and seems particularly lethargic, you should seek the vet immediately.

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