My rabbit has diarrhea! What do I do?
There could be a number of reasons your rabbit has diarrhea, and we’ll cover them all in this article. It’s not nice, it’s not pleasant, and it’s not something you want to ignore. Diarrhea in rabbits is life threatening, so let’s take a look at what might be happening.
Before taking a look at possible reasons a rabbit has diarrhea, we need to consider whether the issue is actually just Intermittent Soft Cecotropes.
Intermittent Soft Cecotropes (try saying that 10 times quickly) is where you’ve got both normal round, solid rabbit poop, as well as partially liquid rabbit poop. This condition is fairly common in most rabbits, at least from time to time.
I recall one of my bunnies that would often produce this type of stool – maybe once a day. While it was a bit of a pain when he did it inside and not in his toilet, it wasn’t happening often enough to force him outside!
Please read this article from rabbit.org to discern whether or not your rabbit is simply facing this issue, or whether it has a more serious case of rabbit diarrhea. Very watery and profuse diarrhea needs immediate attention from a vet. A rabbit in this situation is more than likely to pass away very quickly.
If your rabbit is still producing hard poop, it is likely the less serious soft cecotropes.
The Causes & Cures Of Rabbit Diarrhea
The first thing you should do if you determine your rabbit has diarrhea, is to see a vet. Vets can be really expensive, and your first instinct may be to hesitate in order to see if it will sort itself out. However, rabbit diarrhea is a very serious situation. Do what you’ve got to do and take your bunny to the doctor.
That being said, here are some of the possible causes of the runs in rabbits:
An unbalanced diet is one of the leading causes of diarrhea in rabbits. The majority of a bunny’s diet should consist of grass hay – around 80%. If your rabbit is not getting enough fiber, this could very well be the cause of loose bowel movements.
If your rabbit is used to eating grass hays, the first thing you should do if you are concerned about their stool is to withdraw all food except grass hay and water. If your rabbit does not typically eat grass hays and you have them on a diet of pellets and other foods, leave them with their pellets and increase the amount of hay that they are given. You might try a variety of different hays if they are not interested initially.
Common grass hays include:
- Meadow hay
- Alfalfa hay
- Timothy hay
- Oat hay
A small amount of fruit and vegetables is good in a rabbit’s diet, but too much will take a toll on their digestive tract. I just give my rabbits a small amount of apple and carrot each day, and a bit of banana every now and again. Fruit and vegetables have a high sugar content that rabbits cannot have too much of without getting an upset stomach.
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Stress can cause a rabbit to become unwell. I remember our 2 year old would constantly follow (chase) one of our rabbits around the house. She would sometimes try to hit the poor thing or pull its fur. It got to a point where we could literally see the rabbit tense up whenever she came near. This sort of thing can be highly detrimental to a rabbit’s health and well-being.
Another common danger is when a rabbit has to share the house (or outside area) with dogs and cats. Rabbits are prey animals and may feel continually threatened by these larger predatory animals, even if they pose no real threat.
Shifting house and bringing your rabbit into a new environment might be enough to set off a sensitive rabbit. It’s important to keep an eye on them – how much they are eating, what their poop is like, and so on.
If you think your bunny is suffering from stress, you will need to take whatever measures necessary to remove the problem. We quickly taught our two year old that she could not treat the rabbit the way she was inclined to do so. She learned to leave the rabbit alone and appreciate him from a distance.
There are antibiotics which are bad for rabbits. These can negatively harm a bunny’s intestinal flora by killing good bacteria (which we all have), and allowing bad bacteria into the system. Certain bad bacteria allow toxins to increase in the rabbit, which can ultimately cause a rabbit to die.
If your rabbit has been on antibiotics and has begun to have watery diarrhea, take it to a vet as soon as possible. Your rabbit needs immediate attention.
So those are a few of the possible reasons your rabbit has diarrhea.
To summarize, it’s important to determine whether or not your rabbit actually has diarrhea, or whether it simply has soft cecotropes. Your bunny can quickly come back from excessive soft cecotropes simply by changing their diet. Leaving out the fruit and vegetables for a time, in exchange for grass hays.
If your rabbit has very watery poo, you need to get your rabbit to the vet. That can’t be understated. Diarrhea in rabbits is rare, but it is serious when it occurs. Do what’s best for your bunny and take him to your local vet today.
Here are further resources for you to consider if you suspect a rabbit has diarrhea:
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