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Health & Illness issues


Rabbits require a delicate balance of everything in their life to maintain their health. Stress and diet have a huge impact on their well being. Here is some information on common conditions to watch out for.

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Common Medical Information

Without a firm understanding of your rabbit’s diet and needs, things can go wrong very quickly. We have listed several signs and symptoms of common conditions that can generally be corrected with either diet or environment change and medical intervention if necessary.


Seek veterinary intervention immediately if any of the below symptoms or conditions are present.

All content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and cannot substitute for the advice of a licensed professional or veterinarian. A competent authority with specialized knowledge is the only one who can address the specific circumstances of your predicament. The owner of this website makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner of rabbitsavior.com will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.


Spaying and Neutering

Both sexes should to be fixed, not only behavioural reasons, but also for health benefits. Females are at an 80% risk of contracting uterine cancer which goes up to 90% with age. Males go through other health and behavioral issues that can all be avoided by getting them neutered as well. Only fixed rabbits should be placed together. If there is a rabbit that isn’t fixed, the original rabbit who is in the home can smell the hormones coming off this new rabbit and can start to become aggressive/territorial. For this reason it is best to only introduce a new rabbit into your home if the original(s) are fixed or if you’re able to separate the rabbits by different floors of your home. This way your rabbit(s) will experience the least amount of stress when bringing in a new family member. Click below for detailed information from theeducatedrabbit.com.


Dental Disease

Rabbit’s incisor teeth continuously grow throughout its lifetime. By providing your rabbit with unlimited hay, approved grasses and other high fibre foods, you will prevent overgrown teeth which lead to URI, abscesses and overall discomfort and pain.

Signs of rabbit dental disease can include:

    • Lack of appetite (note: rabbits need to eat very frequently to keep their guts moving; a rabbit that has a reduced appetite should always be seen by a vet as soon as possible).
    • Runny eyes.
    • Dropping food.
    • Wet chin or front legs.
    • Rubbing face.
    • Facial swelling.
    • Lack of grooming.
    • Feces accumulating under the tail.


At the clinic, your vet or nurse will examine the teeth, using a scope to see the cheek teeth. This is not painful and can be done conscious.

If there are problems with the cheek teeth, these need to be addressed under general anaesthetic. Overgrown teeth can be rasped to reshape them, and the soft tissues of the mouth can be more fully examined than in a conscious rabbit. Extraction of problem teeth is also a possibility.

In some cases, this will be enough, but many dental issues in rabbits are chronic and require ongoing treatment throughout the rabbit’s life.

Digestive system

Gastrointestinal problems are common in rabbits. Important conditions include coccidiosis in young rabbits, cecal dysbiosis, gastrointestinal stasis, as well as gastrointestinal obstruction and gastric dilation. Stress can also bring a bout of gastrointestinal stasis on without warning.

GI Stasis can be FATAL in rabbits if not treated immediately.  We recommend calling your vet as soon as symptoms are present. Giving Critical Care formula at the first sign of GI stasis is not recommended. If the rabbit has an obstruction in the GI tract, then adding Critical Care on top of that could cause more problems (may even cause the tract to rupture). An xray is needed in order to rule out an obstruction, in that case, Critical Care can be given. Ovol Drops, more commonly known as “Simethicone” – aka baby gas drops, can be given if you observe the following symptoms:

    • reduced/no appetite for 4-6 hours
    • smaller/no droppings.
    • hunched or bloated appearance.
    • lethargy.
    • grinding teeth or grunting.

Baby Drops can be found in the baby aisle at the grocery store. Look at the ingredients on the back of the box and make sure simethicone is the only ingredient for bloating, gas

Aggressive supportive care is often necessary to nurse a rabbit with gastrointestinal disease. Although treatment varies with the underlying cause, management frequently relies upon analgesia, fluid therapy, enteral feedings, and gastrointestinal motility agents. An appropriate diet, high in fiber and low in simple carbohydrates and concentrates, is the most important factor for maintaining normal gastrointestinal health. Proper husbandry that minimizes stress and ensures ample hydration is also crucial.

>> Visit https://www.theeducatedrabbit.com/GI-stasis-in-rabbits.html for more information on rabbit digestive issues.

URI (Upper Respiratory Infection)

The most common cause of upper respiratory disease (URD) in the rabbit is pasteurellosis. This is generally diagnosed via nasal scope or skull x-ray. Treatment of antibiotics (Baytril) usually clears this up within 4-6 weeks.

Symptoms can present themselves as a positive diagnosis due to the presence of bacteria or may simply be an irritant that is affecting your rabbit and causing similar symptoms. If a bacterial infection is not present, try using less dusty hay or misting the hay before giving it to your rabbit. Remove area rugs and use foam or rubber flooring and if that isn’t possible, vacuum frequently and install an air purifier where your rabbit spends most of its time.

    • Weepy eyes.
    • Dischargefrom the nose.
    • Sneezing/snuffles.
    • Fast breathing/difficulty breathing.
    • Wheezing/noisy breathing.
    • Low energy, being quieter than usual or hiding away.
    • Loss of appetite and weight loss.
    • Stained fur on front legs from cleaning weepy eyes and a runny nose

Ear Infection (middle, inner)

There are many underlying causes of ear infections which can be quite complicated. We suggest you research ear infections in rabbits and determine veterinary interaction if you observe the following symptoms. (Side note, lop breeds are more prone to ear infections than breeds whose ears remain erect):


    • reluctance to chew
    • shaking the head, pawing at the affected ear
    • holding the affected ear down
    • Facial nerve damage – facial asymmetry, inability to blink, discharge from eye,
    • Ipsilateral head tilt (tilting head on affected side)
    • Discharge from ears, dry eyes, throat infection.


Encephalitozoonosis (EC) is an infection caused by the parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi. It is well known in the rabbit community, and is also known to occasionally infect mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, dogs, cats, primates, and even immune compromised humans (e.g., those with HIV or cancer). In rabbits as well, most infections occur when the rabbit has an impaired immune system.

Infection typically occurs when the rabbit ingests the spores of the parasitic organism through contaminated food, after which the spores spread to all of the body organs, resulting in infection once the spores have grown to maturation. The spores may also be transferred from the pregnant female to the developing offspring. The disease process can affect various systems, and symptoms will depend on the areas that are affected. In most cases there will be no clinical symptoms of the parasite’s presence, and the infected rabbit will remain disease free until the immune system fails for some reason. Stress, old age, or illness may be causes for a weakened immune system, allowing the parasite to take on a stronger role. The liver, heart, kidneys, spleen, and spinal nerves may all be affected. A certain strain of this infection is seen more often in young rabbits and Dwarf breeds, and the nervous system is affected more in older rabbits.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms are determined mainly by the location and extent of tissue damage; signs related to eye disease and nervous system are most commonly reported. In addition, most infections are asymptomatic (without symptoms). Some common symptoms to look out for include:


    • Abscess, cataract, and hypersensitivity to light if the eyes are involved)
    • Head tilt, rolling of eyeballs, tremors, loss of balance, rolling, seizures if the neurological system is affected
    • Paresis/paralysis (partial or complete motor loss) if the vestibular system is affected
    • Lethargy, depression, anorexia, and weight loss if kidneys are affected
    • Fleas are tiny black insects, and you’ll tend to notice them around your bunny’s head or groin area.
    • Ticks are larger, round insects, and you might see them crawling in your bunny’s fur or attached to their skin.
    • Mites will look like dandruff. Also check for dark debris in your bunny’s ear, which could be a sign of ear mites.

Owning a Rabbit is a Responsibility

With getting ANY animal this should always be thought through completely and never a spur of the moment decision. You are dealing with another life that requires consistency and not to be passed around. Rabbits need to have ONE owner. All aspects of having this pet should be thought through, researched, and budgeted out.

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