10 signs that your rabbit is under the weather
1. Not moving around, sitting hunched up
This can be a sign of several different problems with your rabbit. There may be nothing else to see, but your rabbit needs veterinary attention as many conditions are fatal if not treated urgently.
2. Loss of appetite, looking depressed, fewer or no droppings
Your rabbit may be in pain and suffering from gut slowdown. Stasis is a very serious problem and your rabbit needs to see the vet to be given appropriate treatment to get the gut moving again.
3. Blood from the nose, bottom or in the urine
Sometimes a rabbit’s urine may be red in colour but the rabbit may otherwise be absolutely fine; if this is the case, there's no need to worry as he may just have eaten something like beetroot! However blood spots in the urine, which may be associated with straining, could indicate serious urinary problems. Any bleeding from the nose or bottom must be taken very seriously as it could be potentially life threatening. It is a symptom of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease which all pet rabbits should be vaccinated against. For further information on rabbit vaccinations >
4. Sore, red and runny eyes; or eyes with swollen lids
Look out for eye problems. Watery, red eyes with a milky discharge can often be a sign of underlying teeth problems in your rabbit. Swollen eyelids could be a mild infection but it is also a symptom of Myxomatosis. This is a disease which every rabbit should be vaccinated against as it is fatal.
5. Drooling or wet around the mouth
This is usually associated with dental problems. Overgrown back teeth (which you can’t see) can cause ulceration of the soft mouth tissues. This is painful and will stop your rabbit from eating and they will lose weight if not treated quickly.
6. Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing
This is abnormal in rabbits and could indicate a respiratory infection. If untreated, rabbits can develop pneumonia which may be fatal. Rabbits do not get “common colds” like humans do!
7. Dirty bottom
You should check your rabbit’s bottom routinely on a daily basis. If it is dirty during the summer, flies will be attracted to lay their eggs there. When these hatch into maggots, they will feed on the flesh of your bunny. You may also notice a “rotten” smell. Flystrike is always an emergency. Get your rabbit to the vet without delay. For more information on Flystrike >
8. Head tilt
If your rabbit appears to have his head to one side he may be infected with a parasite called E cuniculi. This is a microscopic parasite which affects the brain and kidney. Many rabbits have it without it causing symptoms but a few unlucky ones develop a balance problem and can become unable to hop without falling over or worse, paralysed. Treatment can be successful if caught early, so don’t delay taking your rabbit to the vet.
9. Breathing through the mouth
Rabbits are nose breathers, so if they’re breathing through their mouth, they are likely to be in distress and need to see a vet immediately.
We hope you never hear your rabbit make a screaming noise as it is upsetting. However, if you do, there is a reason and your rabbit needs to be taken to the vet urgently as it is likely that they are in pain.
The key to keeping your rabbit healthy is to spend time with them. Becoming familiar with their habits and behaviour will help you notice very quickly when something is amiss.