Rabbits are small, sensitive animals…
There are many things that can make them sick.
But since they can be fragile when it comes to their health…
They need serious help and treatment to avoid making things worse.
Don’t wait for things to turn fatal.
Instead, learn how to treat a sick rabbit by reading:
- How to force feed a sick rabbit.
- 21 tips on how to treat a sick rabbit at home.
- When should you take your rabbit to the vet.
- Which drugs you should avoid for your rabbit.
- And much much more…
How to treat a sick rabbit at home?
You can treat a sick rabbit at home by keeping them well-fed and hydrated. This is the first aid step to do. Keep them warm and regulate their body temperature. Provide constant care and give medicine on time. Avoid stress and keep their space clean.
21 tips to treat a sick rabbit at home
#1: Identify the main cause of the sickness
Before trying different ways to treat a bunny…
You need to try identifying the root of the problem.
Sometimes… giving the wrong medicine can make things worse.
You can find out what’s wrong by checking their symptoms.
Are they making weird noises?
Do they seem paralyzed?
Is there a wound or an infection?
Did your rabbit stop eating?
Depending on the issue…
Rabbits will need careful treatment.
Once you figure out the main concern…
You can proceed to the next tips.
#2: Watch out for allergies
Bunnies can get sick from allergies.
To avoid making things worse…
It’s safe to keep them away from things that can cause a reaction.
Here are 5 common things bunnies can be allergic to:
- Dust and smoke.
- Ingredients in their food pellet.
- Cleaning products with strong odors.
- Toxic chemicals in the air like carbon dioxide.
- Bites from insects such as bees, flies, and wasps.
Like in humans…
This problem doesn’t go away on its own for bunnies.
Constant exposure to allergies… can cause more problems.
Based on research… here are 7 signs of allergy in rabbits:
- Skin irritation.
- Excessive sneezing.
- Constant scratching.
- Red, itchy, watery eyes.
- Eye and nose discharges.
- Having a hard time to breathe.
#3: Check their body temperature
Check if your rabbit has a low or high temperature.
This is one of their vital signs.
You can check it by inserting a thermometer in their anus.
Make sure it’s no deeper than 1 inch.
Research shows that…
Their normal body temperature should be around 101°F to 103°F (38.3°C to 39.4°C).
Anything below 100°F to 30°F (37°C to -1.11°C) is a sign of hypothermia.
And anything above 103°F (39°C) is a sign of fever.
“What to do in case of hypothermia”
Warm them up by using a hot water bottle.
Wrap the bottle using a soft towel.
Place it next to the bunny… but not too close to the face to avoid burning.
Observe until the temperature improves.
“What to do in case of fever”
High fever can be deadly.
If possible… taking them to the vet ASAP is a must.
If not… do first aid treatment by cooling them down.
Place a damp, cool towel next to your bunny.
You can also use cold vegetables… and place them near their belly.
Rubbing their ears with an ice cube can also help.
But make sure not to overdo it.
If it’s easier… using alcohol swabs on the ears can also do the trick.
#4: Keep them away from stress
Stress can affect your bunny in many ways.
Most of the time… it’s not very alarming.
But in times of sickness…
Rabbits need 100% comfort.
You can avoid it by knowing what causes it in the first place.
So, here are 7 things that can cause stress in rabbits:
- Loud noises.
- Feeling lonely.
- Other animals.
- Messy environment.
- Having nothing to do.
- Not having enough space.
- Hormonal changes if not spayed/neutered.
You should also know the signs…
If your rabbit is feeling stressed.
Here are 3 signs of stress in rabbits:
- Self-destructive behavior.
- Attacking others or lunging at you.
- Changes in personality and appetite.
Continue reading: 19 Alarming Signs That Your Rabbit Is Stressed + What To Do
It’s important for a sick rabbit to relax… free from any form of stress.
If you want to know more, read this article: How to reduce stress in rabbits?
#5: Don’t separate bonded pairs
If your rabbit has a partner…
It’s better to keep them together.
Bunnies are social animals…
And they feel safer with each other.
Separation can cause a lot of trouble.
It may make them feel:
They rely on their bond…
To provide each other support.
The presence of their best friend…
Gives a sick rabbit extra strength.
#6: Know which drugs are safe for rabbits
Before giving any medicine to them…
Make sure it’s safe for them first.
Some drugs are not good for their bodies.
There are a lot of medicines that can promote GI stasis in rabbits.
Since they have a sensitive system…
We should only take the safest options for them.
Safe drugs for bacteria infection, based on research:
- Injectable penicillin.
If your rabbit is in pain…
There are also limited drugs you can use to help them.
Pain relief drug
Note: Avoid aspirin if there is internal bleeding. Or if your rabbit will undergo surgery.
The drugs on this list should have specific limits.
Following the proper amount of dosage and method is a must.
To be safe…
Consult your vet for a guide.
#7: Don’t give your rabbit a bath
Don’t bathe your rabbit…
No matter how dirty they get.
This is a common mistake… especially in new rabbit owners.
Bunnies aren’t used to the water.
The shock from the water can even cause sudden death.
They don’t like getting wet.
Instead… they often wash on their own, a few times a day.
In case of paralysis in rabbits…
They’ll end up sitting in their own waste.
What you can do to clean them up is…
Use a soft, damp cloth and wipe them.
Make sure to be gentle to not shock your rabbit.
#8: Move them to a clean and comfortable room
To secure your bunny’s recovery…
Consider taking them to a different room in the meantime.
Their living area is what made them sick in the first place.
You wouldn’t want them to catch the same disease all over again…
So the best thing you can do is give them a temporary room.
It must be quiet… clean… and comfortable enough for them.
While they’re in another area…
Take this opportunity to clean the old room they use.
It will get rid of the health risks for them.
#9: Provide proper ventilation
If humans can get sick from polluted air…
Rabbits are no different.
In fact, they are more sensitive than us.
A sick bunny will need 100% fresh air.
As stated by a study…
Rabbits can get sick because of humidity…
And low room temperature.
Other than that…
Chemicals in the air can also be toxic for them.
Most of the time…
It will damage their airway system.
As a result… It can lead to a respiratory problem.
#10: Avoid contact with other animals
Other pets can make things worse for your bunny.
Sometimes… they could make each other sick.
Or your bunny got their disease from them.
The presence of predators…
Can also cause stress in your rabbit.
When bunnies are sick…
Some of them would want to be alone.
They want to feel safe and relaxed.
But of course…
Don’t forget to bring along their favorite friend.
Remember… don’t separate bonded pairs…
But keep other animals away from them.
#11: Wash your hands before and after handling the rabbit
It’s best to stay clean at all times…
Before you handle a sick rabbit.
There can be dirt or any bacteria in our hands…
Which can weaken them even more.
Washing after is also a must…
In case the rabbit is carrying a viral disease.
Most of the time…
We can’t get sick from rabbits.
But we can pass their sickness to other pets.
To avoid spreading diseases…
Consider using gloves if you have to hold them.
#12: Clean their room and bedding at least once a day
Sick bunnies might make more mess than usual…
Especially if they can’t move on their own.
So make sure to clean their bedding often…
The ideal goal is to clean it whenever possible…
Don’t let dirt stay near them for too long.
Once a bunny gets sick…
Their immune system weakens a lot…
Making them twice as sensitive than before…
Their own waste can make them worse.
Make sure the entire room is clean…
Free from dust and strong odors that can irritate their nose.
#13: Learn how to do syringe feeding
When bunnies are sick…
They might lose interest in food.
Or they might be too weak to eat on their own.
Given their small bodies…
Rabbits need as much nutrients as possible.
Unlike other pets…
Skipping meals can be fatal for a bunny.
So what you can do to help is…
To learn how you can feed them.
You can buy any syringe to use for feeding…
Choose which can feel more comfortable for your bunny.
Then, take their food… and soften it with water.
It can be a mixture of healthy pellets…
And crushed fruits or vegetables.
If it’s healthy… you can include their favorite treat too.
This ensures that they get a balanced diet in one feeding.
But… some bunnies can have a hard time eating.
So… you have to feed them throughout the day.
To make it easier…
You can also call your vet for special food formulas.
These are ready-made food for syringe feeding…
The formula contains all the nutrients your bunny needs.
“How to force feed a rabbit?”
You can force-feed a rabbit in a few ways.
First… you can try sitting on the floor.
They will feel more comfortable on the ground.
Wait for them to relax…
Then hold them close with your hand but be gentle.
Some rabbits will cooperate without a problem.
Second… you can also try to cradle them in your arms.
The same way you would bottle-feed a baby.
Make sure your hand is supporting their back and legs…
This is to avoid spinal injury.
Third… you can try to place them on a table.
You can be standing while you feed them…
This can make it easier to hold them down…
And force them to eat.
You can bring along their partner rabbit…
It will help them relax.
As an extra tip…
You can also ask for help from a friend or family to assist you.
This is a safety precaution if the rabbit is resisting.
You can watch this video on how to syringe feed a bunny:
#14: Keep a close eye on your rabbit
Sick rabbits might have a change in behavior…
Some of them might turn aggressive…
And some will try to hide from you.
The worst thing is…
Some of them can become self-destructive.
When this happens…
Your rabbit will try to hurt themselves.
They might bite their own fur out…
To the point that it irritates their skin.
Some of them won’t even eat at all.
There are also conditions that can affect their movements…
E. Cuniculi in rabbits can cause ataxia… as shown by research.
This results in abnormal movements such as running into walls…
Losing their balance… and tilting their heads.
This is why we need to keep a close eye on them…
To ensure that nothing bad happens.
If you’re a busy person…
Try to ask someone you trust to watch over them if you’re away.
#15: Be mindful of toxic chemicals that can be harmful for them
Rabbits have a great sense of smell.
What smells light to you…
Is twice stronger for them.
This makes them more sensitive to chemicals…
And a lot of times…
We forget the fact that a lot of things we use every day…
Can contain harmful chemicals in them.
Cleaning products like air fresheners…
Releases toxins in the air.
Your bunny can breathe it in…
And it will infect their lungs.
Either it will make it hard for them to breathe…
Or they can get poisoned by the air pollution.
Whichever it is…
It can make their sickness worse.
If you’re going to clean their room…
Consider moving them to a temporary room…
Let the chemicals wear off first then take them back.
#16: Stop the bleeding ASAP if there’s an open wound
Bleeding from wounds is a serious situation…
You should take them to the vet ASAP.
But as first aid treatment…
Stopping the bleeding is the first priority.
You can stop bleeding by applying pressure on the wound…
Use a clean cloth and wrap it around the injury.
Keep doing it until the bleeding stops.
Afterward… cleaning the wound is important to avoid infection.
Get a different clean towel…
Damp it with warm water…
Then use it to clean the wound.
Be as gentle as possible.
Make sure to keep them in a safe room.
#17: Avoid moving your rabbit around
As much as possible…
You have to reduce the amount of handling on your rabbit.
Too much touching and moving… can stress them out.
Especially in cases of broken bones…
Or paralyzed limbs.
Only move your rabbit… when it’s necessary.
Some people might say…
You can try to massage a rabbit.
But this can only make them worse.
A massage can only work on a nervous… or anxious bunny.
Doing this can only put them in more pain…
If they have muscle injuries… or broken bones.
#18: Don’t overfeed in case of GI stasis
If you suspect that your rabbit has GI stasis…
It’s best not to force-feed them in this situation.
GI stasis can cause a blockage in their intestines…
This condition makes it hard for them to pass food into their system.
Here are 5 signs of GI stasis in rabbits:
- Not defecating at all.
- Waste mixed with mucus.
- Abnormal sized fecal pellets.
- Loud gurgling noise in the belly.
- Lethargy and loud teeth grinding.
You can try to feed them…
But never force them to eat more until a vet takes a look.
“How to treat GI Stasis?”
Based on research… here’s 5 things to do as first aid treatment.
- Massage their belly.
- Keep them hydrated.
- Regulate their body temperature.
- Feed them with hay and grass herbs.
- Offer regular feeding, never too much.
You might also want to check out: Rabbit Poop Chart: 13 Different Types Of Bunny Poop
#19: Make sure they drink enough water
Water will help a lot even in healthy bunnies.
The average bunny should drink about 50 to 150ml (0.05kg to 0.15kg) per day.
A sick bunny may need more…
But always try to stay within the average.
If they can’t drink on their own…
You can also use a syringe to make them drink.
Be gentle in the process to avoid choking on water.
#20: Get vet advice through phone calls
In the event that you can’t go to the vet…
For example… it’s late at night…
You can try calling them instead.
Keep giving the vet updates on your bunny…
So your vet can give you helpful tips.
It can also help you feel at ease to treat your bunny.
#21: Try to stay by their side at all times to give comfort
When you’ve done everything…
All there’s left to do is stay by your bunny’s side.
Your presence itself will give them comfort.
It’s important not to leave them alone at all.
Some bunnies need mental support…
If they feel alone…
They might give up on fighting their sickness.
As much as possible…
Try not to leave your bunny’s sight.
Cheer them up with toys and talk to them.
Your bunny may be sick…
But they can still understand communication.
“When should you take your rabbit to the vet?”
It’s better to be safe than regret things later on.
If you think your bunny is in a critical state…
Take them to the vet ASAP.
There’s no room for hesitation…
When it comes to life-or-death situations.
For clear signs of a bunny in a critical state…
You can check for underlying symptoms.
Here are 5 examples:
- Abnormal breathing.
- Bleeding in the nose.
- Involuntary movements.
- Screaming and weird noises.
Warning: If there are maggots or worms on your bunny… it can be a sign of myiasis a.k.a flystrike. It’s a deadly and contagious infestation… so take them to the vet ASAP.