As heartbreaking as it is…
The cycle of life always goes on.
It’s painful… but rabbits have a shorter lifespan than ours.
We have to accept nature’s course when the right time comes.
Bunnies can be hard to read when it comes to their current conditions.
Though it doesn’t mean it’s too late… we still need to prepare for the worst.
Read on to know:
- 21 signs that your rabbit is dying.
- Factors that can make a rabbit sick.
- What you should do if your rabbit is dying.
- How to prevent your rabbit from getting sick.
- And much much more…
How do I know if my rabbit is dying?
You will know if your rabbit is dying when they stop eating and moving. Rabbits are energetic animals, so inactivity can be an indication of dying. Depending on the cause of death, bunnies may show other signs of health problems as well.
21 signs your rabbit is dying + what to do
#1: Changes in urine or feces
One of the first things you will notice in dying rabbits…
Is the changes in their urine and feces.
Most of the time…
Rabbit waste does not have any dark colors…
Or have weird odors.
Try to pay attention to your rabbit when they go to the bathroom.
A sick rabbit might show:
- Cloudy urine.
- Urine with blood.
- Clear white urine.
- Dark colored urine.
- Light yellow and reddish brown urine.
Research states that blood in a rabbit’s pee is a sign of “calculi” or “urolithiasis”.
Also known as “urinary tract stones” or “sludges”.
This condition is life-threatening for rabbits.
When it comes to feces…
A healthy rabbit should have normal-shaped and sized waste.
According to another research…
Rabbits suffering from GI stasis a.k.a Gastrointestinal Stasis…
Will show signs of dark, dry, and abnormal-sized feces.
It can also have blood and mucus…
Along with a strong, unpleasant odor.
These two conditions can lead to death.
Reading tip: 25 Most Effective Tips To Save A Rabbit From Dying
#2: Screaming and other strange noises
Even when rabbits are in pain…
They try their best to hide it by staying silent.
But… when their condition is getting worse…
They lose control of the sounds they make.
Screaming is a clear sign that your rabbit is in pain…
But they can also make other noises such as:
- Loud teeth grinding.
- Grunting and gasping.
- Sneezing and wheezing.
- Noisy breathing a.k.a snuffles.
Even if your rabbit is not sick…
They can still make these odd sounds near their final moments.
#3: Excessive drooling
Drooling is not normal for rabbits…
They may salivate a little sometimes…
But too much is alarming behavior.
Drooling can be a sign of 5 things:
- Heat stroke.
- Food poisoning.
- Dental problems.
- Respiratory diseases.
- Issues in the nervous system.
Any of the 5 things from this list…
Can turn life-threatening for your rabbit.
Neurological conditions on the other hand…
Are often related to paralysis in rabbits.
This is when they lose control of their limbs…
As a result… it leads to involuntary drooling.
Based on a study… GI stasis can also cause drooling in rabbits.
#4: Loss of balance
While some might think rabbits are only clumsy…
Losing balance at all times is an alarming behavior.
When they can’t control it…
It could be a sign of a serious injury or infection.
Here are factors that can affect balance:
- Brain and ear cancer.
- Brain and ear infections.
- Weakened body due to old age.
- Loss of strength due to diseases.
- Pain in their muscles while moving.
A common condition in rabbits that can cause this problem is E. Cuniculi.
a.k.a, “Encephalitozoon cuniculi”.
It’s a parasite that infects your rabbit’s nervous system…
Which leads to ataxia in rabbits… as stated by a study.
Ataxia is a condition that describes abnormal movements…
Such as losing balance.
#5: They stop grooming themselves
Rabbits are clean animals…
They love washing themselves.
A healthy bunny would self-groom many times a day…
So if your rabbit stops cleaning themselves…
Something is wrong.
If you’re not around to keep an eye on their grooming…
You can pay attention to their fur.
A bunny that isn’t grooming will have stained fur.
Most of the time…
Their fur gets stained by their urine, waste, or discharges.
Shaking might seem more common in rabbits…
It can happen whenever they breathe fast.
It can also be a sign of 7 things:
- Food poisoning.
- Muscle tremors.
- Physical injuries.
- Diseases like GI stasis.
- Pneumonia and infections.
No matter the reason…
Excessive shaking in rabbits is a serious concern.
Further reading: 19 Alarming Reasons Why Rabbits Shake + 13 Important Tips
When a rabbit is near their final moments…
Their muscles might make involuntary movements.
It’s the body’s way of showing that…
Things are shutting down.
Though… bunnies can also experience this because of other causes.
E. Cuniculi can cause seizures in rabbits as claimed by research.
In some cases…
Seizures can happen a few times a day before death.
Paralysis is a known enemy of rabbits…
While it’s curable…
It can make a lot of rabbits go through a life-and-death situation.
There are many factors that can cause this problem.
Here are 7 common causes of paralysis in rabbits:
- Brain cancer.
- Head trauma.
- Brain damage.
- Spine and limb injuries.
- Spondylosis in old rabbits.
- Different types of infections.
- Other issues such as kidney failure and dental diseases.
Keep in mind that paralysis means that…
They’re forced to stay still.
Some rabbits will try to move but the condition stops them.
#9: Irregular breathing
Rapid changes in breathing are common in rabbits.
But when their breathing stays abnormal…
It shows your rabbit has serious health problems.
Note: Normal respiration rate in rabbits is 30 to 60 breaths per minute. Their heart rate should be between 120 to 150 beats per minute.
If their breathing is too slow…
It’s a sign that their body is weak and shutting down.
Meanwhile… breathing too fast is also a hint of an illness.
Your bunny is trying their best to breathe…
But a condition is making it hard for them.
Dental issues can infect your rabbit’s nose… stated by a study.
It leads to lung diseases.
An example of a respiratory problem they can get…
Is “snuffles”, which is a deadly condition for rabbits.
#10: Cold body temperature
Their body temperature is one of the vital signs to check.
A low body temperature in rabbits will show that…
They might be sick or nearing their final moments.
Hypothermia can be a cause of abnormal, low body temperature in rabbits.
According to research…
A rabbit’s normal temperature should be around 101oF to 103oF (38.3oC – 39.4o C).
You can check your bunny’s body temperature in one way…
Insert a thermometer no deeper than 1 inch in the anus.
For safety… you can carry your bunny in your arms…
Make sure you know the right way to hold a bunny.
Note: Support their back and legs to avoid kicking and spinal injuries.
In case you don’t feel confident to do this method…
Then you should take your bunny to the vet.
Or you can watch this video for a guide:
#11: Hiding or avoiding you
Studies claim that rabbits try their best to hide their pain.
As prey animals…
Rabbits want to avoid becoming a target of predators.
In the wild…
Showing any sign of weakness can get taken advantage of.
It serves as a signal for their enemies to attack.
You may notice your rabbit trying to avoid you…
Or they try to find secure hiding spots.
They feel more vulnerable in their final moments…
So they feel safer when they’re alone.
This means that they might even show aggression…
If you try to approach or touch them.
Rabbits will hide to lure away predators… to protect other bunnies.
They also do this to avoid spreading their disease to the colony too.
It only shows that your rabbit cares for you…
And they don’t want you to catch their illness.
#12: Combined symptoms of different diseases
Rabbits can have different diseases at once.
They may show more than one symptom when they’re dying.
Here are common symptoms of many rabbit illnesses:
- Muscle spasms.
- Sneezing and runny nose.
- Watery, red, bulging eyes.
- Coughing and nose bleeding.
- Discharge stains on the front paw fur.
- Blue-ish tongue or changes in their color.
- Changes in the fur color, such as turning dark.
These symptoms are from different common illnesses.
The sad thing about bunnies is…
Their sensitive body can be like a domino.
One risk is all it takes to make them very sick…
As it will spread to the rest of their body.
You might also be interested in: Why do baby rabbits die suddenly?
#13: Watery eyes and discharges
Your rabbit might also have weepy eyes…
In a way, it looks like they’re crying.
But in reality… this is a serious sign of critical health concerns.
You might also notice redness and swelling around the eyes.
Dilated pupils is also another sign.
Many things can affect their sensitive eyes…
Here the common causes of watery eyes in rabbits:
- Dental issues.
- Diseases in the lungs.
- Eye injuries and infection.
These factors lead to watery eyes and discharges.
Crust might build-up around the eyes as well.
#14: Noisy breathing
Rabbits always try to be silent.
They do it to avoid letting predators detect them.
So if your rabbit is breathing too loud…
It might be a sign that they have trouble breathing.
It can happen if they are sick…
Here are conditions that can cause noisy breathing in rabbits:
- Heart conditions.
- Lung, nose, and brain cancers.
- Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus a.k.a RHDV.
A study shows that bordetella is a type of bacteria…
It lives in the lungs and nasal region the most.
Sometimes… it can also spread to their ears.
The same thing applies to pasteurellosis.
Following another research…
RHDV can also affect their lungs.
Warning: This virus can cause sudden death in rabbits. It also spreads fast. So if you suspect this in your rabbit… consult the vet right away.
#15: Constant signs of lethargy
Lethargy means that your rabbit is weaker than usual.
Though rabbits have different personalities…
A lot of them stay active at all times.
Even rabbits can feel sad sometimes…
But they still like to play or roam around.
If your rabbit’s weak state doesn’t improve in a day…
That’s the time it can be alarming.
So if your rabbit doesn’t show signs of energy…
It’s a hint that they’re sick or dying.
#16: Limp muscles or stiff muscles
A dying bunny will be weak.
It will show physical evidence.
Their body will look and feel limp…
This is more common in older rabbits with arthritis.
But it can also happen to young bunnies.
In some cases…
Rabbits that suffer from nerve injury like brain and spinal damage…
Can lose muscle control that results in stiffness.
This is why some rabbits become paralyzed.
#17: Weird movements like running into walls
Sick rabbits tend to have ataxia…
This is when rabbits lose control of their movements.
They may run in straight directions…
Until they crash against walls or objects.
There are many causes of ataxia in bunnies.
Here are a few examples:
- Brain diseases.
Any condition that affects the brain…
Will cause motor problems in a rabbit.
#18: Behavioral changes
A huge change in behavior is also expected.
When rabbits are sick or dying…
They might want to be alone.
Some of them might turn aggressive as well.
Rarely… they can also turn self-destructive.
Some rabbits might even fail to use their litter…
As a result, they end up sitting in their own waste.
If they’re too weak to even move…
They will become lethargic.
#19: Not moving all day
Rabbits are active animals.
They’re always on the move…
Curious about all things.
In the wild…
If they stay in one spot for too long…
It can be dangerous for them.
So if your bunny is not moving…
It can be due to two reasons:
- They’re paralyzed.
- They’re sick and in pain.
Whichever it is…
It’s not normal for them.
Keep an eye on your rabbit for the day to be safe.
You can also check for injuries or limp muscles in your rabbit…
This will help let you know if it might be a critical situation.
#20: Showing no reactions to anything
As prey animals…
Rabbits can be sensitive.
With their strong senses…
They often react to everything.
So… if your bunny is not responding to anything…
It can be a clear sign of dying.
Even when sick…
They still try to react most of the time.
But when there’s nothing at all…
It’s like they’ve given up for their own good.
Your bunny is getting ready to go.
#21: Appetite loss
If a bunny stops eating…
It’s not always a big concern.
It can happen if they’re being picky…
Or they don’t feel well at the moment.
But if it happens continuously…
Your rabbit could be sick or dying.
For example… they might have a dental problem.
This can make eating difficult for them.
GI stasis can also cause appetite loss.
Neurological diseases might make them stop eating too.
Learn more: Rabbit Syringe Feeding: 13 Safe Tips To Force Feed A Rabbit
5 tips on what to do if your rabbit is dying
#1: Take them to the vet
In life-or-death situations… there’s no time to think twice.
Many rabbits die because help comes late.
This is also because of the fact that they hide their pain…
So… as soon as you notice your rabbit might be dying, go to the vet asap.
#2: Provide constant care and medication
Your rabbit needs you to help them get better.
If you’ve taken them to the vet…
You should receive details on what to do.
Make sure to give your bunny their medicine.
If needed… ask help from family to watch over them.
Don’t give up on them too fast.
Some rabbits want to be with you longer.
If you can sense their will to fight…
Then give them all your care and support.
Check out this article: 17 Best & Proven Ways To Comfort A Dying Rabbit
#3: Don’t separate them from their friends
If your bunny has a partner…
It’s better to keep them together.
Keeping them apart can make things worse…
For both of them.
Without the other…
The healthy rabbit can end up sick from loneliness.
They need their best friend around.
It gives them strength…
Their bond is their moral support.
#4: Keep them in a comfortable room
Giving them care isn’t all that’s needed.
You have to make sure they’re in a clean space too.
Putting them back to their old living area…
Can expose them to the same health risks.
They could’ve gotten sick in that place right from the start.
While your rabbit is trying to recover…
Make a temporary safe room for them.
Of course, don’t forget to bring their best friend.
#5: Give them the comfort that they need
If you already tried everything…
All that’s left to do is give them all your love and comfort.
At this point…
All your rabbit needs is to be with you.
Don’t leave their side… keep them calm.
Spoil them to the fullest…
Give them the treats they want.
And make their final moments full of love.
“How to avoid getting your rabbit sick?”
You can avoid getting a rabbit sick by knowing what they’re sensitive to. Keeping their surroundings clean is a must.
Prevention is always better than cure.
If you still own other rabbits… or plan to take care of other ones…
You can help improve their lifespan in many ways.
Here are 9 tips on how to keep your bunny healthy.
- Keep their living area clean.
- Provide a healthy balanced diet.
- Understand your rabbit’s body language.
- Keep them away from chemical exposure.
- Avoid causing stress, loneliness, and depression.
- Make sure they have enough space to move around in.
- Know the signs of a sick rabbit so you can treat them asap.
- Consider spaying and neutering to avoid reproductive cancers.
- Room temperature must be around 60 to 65 Fahrenheit (15 to 18 degrees Celsius).