As good a bunny parent as you are there will inevitably be times when your bunny is not at her best. Here’s the lowdown on some common rabbit illnesses and what to watch out for.
Before we start it’s important to point out that not all vets can provide specialist rabbit care. As soon as you get your new pet it is imperative you find a suitable veterinarian then. Don’t wait until your rabbit is ill before you try to find one. Ask friends or club members for recommendations (the House Rabbit Society is a good place to start) or try asking in online forums for vets in your area.
Rabbits are very susceptible to heat, and it does not even need to be excessive to cause heat exhaustion. Symptoms are excessive lethergy, panting, floppiness and raised body temperature (normal is between 101 and 102 degrees F) This can be fatal for your rabbit and it is very important not to waste time if you are the slightest bit concerned he may be affected. Get to a vet immediately.
Diarrhea is not a disease but a symptom of something troubling your rabbit inside. It could be a change in diet or something more serious depending on the level of diarrhea. This one needs vet attention too
Also known as wry neck, head tilt is a neurological problem that needs immediate attention. You will notice your bunny’s head tilting to the side. Head tilt can be caused by a number of reasons – inner or middle ear infection, bump to the head, stroke, brain tumour or abscess and/or parasitic infection. It is curable in many cases but act fast and get to that vet immediately!
Yes, this is definitely an illness and sadly one of the more common ones. Being an overweight bunny places him at increased risk for other diseases so it is important that you take action immediately. If you’re feeding pellets and your bunny isn’t getting out and about of his cage for a minimum of two hours to run free and exercise then he could start packing on those pounds! Cut back on the pellets and increase free-feeding of hay. It is high in fibre and low in calories so great for the battle of the bulging bunny. Watch his treats too – even fruits and vegetables high in natural sugars such as apples and carrots can add to the problem if overfed.
As you know, your rabbit loves to chew, chew, chew! Nature designed rabbits to chew tough, fibrous plants to ensure they get enough roughage in their diet so it is vital their teeth stay in tip top condition. Unfortunately dental problems in pet rabbits are common and may be the result of feeding a diet of pallets and not having enough daily chewing material. If your rabbit seems reluctant to chew, or is salivating excessively it may be a sign of dental problems and it’s time to get them checked out.
A final word
Rabbits can’t tell you they are ill and will often suffer in silence. Overall rabbits are bright, curious and playful creatures so if your rabbit seems lethargic, is off her food and/or generally not her usual self she may be sick. Please seek your vet’s advice as soon as possible.